And, no, they’re not members of Canada’s old Natural Law Party (the one that advocated research into something called “yogic flying”). They say they can reverse the Casimir force:
The Casimir force is a consequence of quantum mechanics, the theory that describes the world of atoms and subatomic particles that is not only the most successful theory of physics but also the most baffling.
The force is due to neither electrical charge or gravity, for example, but the fluctuations in all-pervasive energy fields in the intervening empty space between the objects and is one reason atoms stick together, also explaining a “dry glue” effect that enables a gecko to walk across a ceiling.
Now, using a special lens of a kind that has already been built, Prof Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin report in the New Journal of Physics they can engineer the Casimir force to repel, rather than attact.
The result? Levitation, on the nanoscale for now–but that alone could mean frictionless parts for tiny machines. However, get this:
Though it is possible to levitate objects as big as humans, scientists are a long way off developing the technology for such feats, said Dr Philbin.
The practicalities of designing the lens to do this are daunting but not impossible and levitation “could happen over quite a distance”.
I’m getting light-headed just thinking about it…
(Via SF Scope.)