As something is made from nothing a 70-year-old quantum prediction is realized.

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As something is made from nothing a 70-year-old quantum prediction is realized. It’s obvious the person who declared “You can’t get something from nothing” has never studied quantum physics. Simply manipulating empty space—the pinnacle of physical nothingness—in the correct way will surely result in something emerging. Sometimes more particle-antiparticle pairs appear when two particles collide in the void.

Try to separate the quark from the antiquark in a meson, and new particle-antiparticle pairs will emerge from the void between them. And in theory, even in the absence of any beginning particles or antiparticles, a powerful enough electromagnetic field can rip particles and antiparticles out of the vacuum itself.

It was previously believed that the highest particle energies possible—those only found in high-energy particle physics experiments or in the harshest astrophysical environments—would be required to create these effects.

However, high enough electric fields were generated in a straightforward laboratory setup using the special qualities of graphene in early 2022, allowing the spontaneous generation of particle-antiparticle pairs from nothing at all. The idea that this should be feasible was first proposed 70 years ago by Julian Schwinger, one of the pioneers of quantum field theory. Now that the Schwinger effect has been shown, we can better understand how the universe actually creates anything out of nothing.

It is genuinely impossible to produce “nothing” in any satisfying manner in the universe we live in. Everything that exists can be broken down into discrete, nonreducible units called quanta at the most fundamental level. Quarks, electrons, muons, taus, neutrinos, and all of their antimatter counterparts are among these elementary particles, along with photons, gluons, and the heavy bosons W+, W-, Z0, and the Higgs. However, even if you remove them all, the “empty space” that is left isn’t completely empty.

It is genuinely impossible to produce “nothing” in any satisfying manner in the universe we live in. Everything that exists can be broken down into discrete, nonreducible units called quanta at the most fundamental level.

Quarks, electrons, muons, taus, neutrinos, and all of their antimatter counterparts are among these elementary particles, along with photons, gluons, and the heavy bosons W+, W-, Z0, and the Higgs. However, even if you remove them all, the “empty space” that is left isn’t completely empty.

For starters, quantum fields continue to exist even in the absence of particles. The quantum forces that permeate the Universe cannot be removed, just as the laws of physics cannot be removed from it.

Another is that gravitation and electromagnetism are two long-range forces whose effects will last no matter how far we transport any sources of matter. Space cannot be “completely empty” in this context, although we can devise sophisticated arrangements that guarantee that the strength of the electromagnetic field in a region is zero.

There are numerous ways to study the universe, and quantum analog systems are some of the most effective tools we have for researching exotic physics. In these systems, the same mathematics that defines a physically inaccessible regime also applies to a system that can be constructed and examined in a lab.

The Schwinger effect arose for the first time in any form, in this particular quantum system, despite the fact that it is extremely difficult to predict how it could be tested in its pure form. This is due to graphene’s extreme properties, including its capacity to withstand astronomically large electric fields and currents. According to coauthor Dr. Roshan Krishna Kumar:

When we initially noticed the remarkable qualities of our superlattice devices, we speculated that it might be a brand-new form of superconductivity. We quickly discovered that the perplexing behavior was not superconductivity but rather something from the fields of astrophysics and particle physics, even though the response closely mimics those frequently observed in superconductors. The similarities between such different disciplines are intriguing.

The creation of electrons and positrons (or “holes”) from nothing at all by electric forces just ripping them out of the quantum vacuum is another example of how the universe proves the seemingly impossible: we can actually create something from nothing!