There has been a hugely significant development - perhaps - in the field of physics at the University of Konstanz in Germany, according to this article from our friends at Phys.Org, and shared by P.O.L. Briefly put, scientists there are claiming in a recent paper to have detected the very small electrical fluctuations of vacuum space called the "zero point energy" (or sometimes, the quantum vacuum flux):
As the article itself points out, the zero point energy has, until now, been a theoretical construct, i.e., it is predicted by quantum mechanics, but so far, no one has been able to detect it:
Theoretical physicists believe that empty space is not empty at all, instead it is filled with quantum particles that pop in and out of existence creating what are known as electric-field vacuum fluctuations. Prior research has led to efforts that have measured such fluctuations indirectly, but no one, until now, has claimed to be able to measure them directly.
The experiment conducted by the team in Germany involved using a long pulse of light to study a shorter pulse of light by firing both through a crystal at the same time. The long pulse had a horizontal polarization while the shorter pulse had a vertical polarization. In such an arrangement, properties of the crystal are dependent on the electric field that exists inside of it, which in turn causes a change in the polarization of the beams that are fired into it and then emerge on the other side. The researchers adjusted the timing of the light pulses to map out fluctuations in the electric field. To offset vacuum fluctuations related to their own existence, they put in just the probe pulse—nothing else. When repeated many times, the researchers found the polarization varied slightly, which the researchers attributed to vacuum fluctuations. To be able to actually see what was going on, the team varied the width and duration of the pulses but not the number of photons in a given beam. They noted that the shot noise should have stayed constant as the pulse grew in size, but it did not, which the team claims was due to electric-field vacuum fluctuations.