Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG
HOME > MULTIMEDIA > Multimedia Detail

MULTIMEDIA

Drawn Together by the Casimir Effect

On average, an atom has no net charge. But at any moment in time, an uneven distribution of its electrons can induce it to become a dipole, with one end positive and the other negative (called a polarized state). Dipoles can then interact with other atoms, further inducing them to also become polarized. These short-range attractions are called van der Waals forces.

When many atoms and molecules interact this way, they create what's called the Casimir effect. In essence, this effect explains why two parallel objects are attracted to each other even in a vacuum. The animation interprets what happens to the electromagnetic field because of quantum effects and virtual photons, to show what results when two plates are brought close together in such an environment:



Active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist magazine subscribers can view the related article here: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2014/4/engines-powered-by-the-forces-between-atoms/.


comments powered by Disqus
 

Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed Instagram Icon

Latest Multimedia

PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

To view all multimedia content, click "Latest Multimedia."



RSS Feed Subscription

Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.


EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Subscribe to American Scientist