Casimir effect

Cas·​i·​mir effect | \ ˈka-zə-ˌmir- \

Definition of Casimir effect

: an attractive force created by the net action of virtual photons on physical objects in close proximity Although no one has yet seen negative matter or negative energy in the wild, it has been detected in the laboratory, in the form of something called the Casimir effect. Consider two uncharged, parallel plates. Theoretically, the force between them should be zero. But if they are placed only a few atoms apart, then the space between them is not enough for some quantum fluctuations to occur. As a result, the number of quantum fluctuations in the region around the plates is greater than in the space between. This differential creates a net force that pushes the two plates together.— Michio Kaku, Discover, December 2004

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First Known Use of Casimir effect

1988, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Casimir effect

after Hendrik B.G. Casimir †2000 Dutch physicist

Note: The initial report on the effect was published by Casimir in “On the attraction between two perfectly conducting plates,” Proceedings van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, vol. B51 (1948), pp. 793-95.

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Cite this Entry

“Casimir effect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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