This is another of those stories this week that so many people sent along that it went directly into the "finals cut" folder, because, as one can imagine, it prompts all sorts of high octane speculations. In brief, China is experimenting with extremely high energy lasers that, it is thought, might be a technique for creating lasers capable of breaking the symmetry of the vacuum - of the fabric of space-time itself, and thereby creating particles from mere light, and thereby taking another step toward direct access of the creative energies of the vacuum:

Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart empty space

Now, if you're like me, when you read an article titled "Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart empty space", you might be thinking "What could possibly go wrong?" Ripping apart empty space is no big deal, right? After all, the last time Someone did it was... er... well, the Big Bang.  It would be a nifty capability to have lying around the workbench of your garage if, for example, you were Marduk and took it in your head to blow up a planet. How better to do that than rip apart the local latticework of space-time in which said planet is embedded with your divine lightning bolts titanium-doped sapphire pulsed lasers?

Now of course, all this is pure speculation. The reality is a bit more prosaic:

The group's ambitions don't end there. This year, Li and colleagues intend to start building a 100-PW laser known as the Station of Extreme Light (SEL). By 2023, it could be flinging pulses into a chamber 20 meters underground, subjecting targets to extremes of temperature and pressure not normally found on Earth, a boon to astrophysicists and materials scientists alike. The laser could also power demonstrations of a new way to accelerate particles for use in medicine and high-energy physics. But most alluring, Li says, would be showing that light could tear electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons, from empty space—a phenomenon known as "breaking the vacuum." It would be a striking illustration that matter and energy are interchangeable, as Albert Einstein's famous E=mc2 equation states. Although nuclear weapons attest to the conversion of matter into immense amounts of heat and light, doing the reverse is not so easy. But Li says the SEL is up to the task. "That would be very exciting," he says. "It would mean you could generate something from nothing."

Oh, wait, the creation of particles and anti-particles isn't so prosaic at all, because if one could actually collect and sustain all that anti-matter somehow, one could produce "anti-matter reactors" which might have enough energy to ... oh, say... power NASA's and DARPA warp drive plans, or perhaps to build bombs utilizing the total annihilation reaction properties of matter/anti-matter reactions. (Hmmm... seems to me that I recall the late Dr. Tom Van Flandern speculating on such reactions as one possible mechanism for blowing up planets.) Indeed, such a capability would inevitably imply the God-like ability to locally engineer the properties of the vacuum.

But, again, I am speculating of course. How has the Chinese laser's extremely high energy been achieved?

To get to higher powers, scientists have turned to the time domain: packing the energy of a pulse into ever-shorter durations. One approach is to amplify the light in titanium-doped sapphire crystals, which produce light with a large spread of frequencies. In a mirrored laser chamber, those pulses bounce back and forth, and the individual frequency components can be made to cancel each other out over most of their pulse length, while reinforcing each other in a fleeting pulse just a few tens of femtoseconds long. Pump those pulses with a few hundred joules of energy and you get 10 PW of peak power. That's how the SULF and other sapphire-based lasers can break power records with equipment that fits in a large room and costs just tens of millions of dollars, whereas NIF costs $3.5 billion and needs a building 10 stories high that covers the area of three U.S. football fields. (Emphasis added)

(Oh wait, you mean, this really will fit into my garage?)

Not to worry, we're still along way from ripping apart the vacuum and achieving any sort of sustained anti-matter containment:

Once the laser builders summon the power, another challenge will loom: bringing the beams to a singularly tight focus. Many scientists care more about intensity—the power per unit area—than the total number of petawatts. Achieve a sharper focus, and the intensity goes up. If a 100-PW pulse can be focused to a spot measuring just 3 micrometers across, as Li is planning for the SEL, the intensity in that tiny area will be an astonishing 1024 watts per square centimeter (W/cm2)—some 25 orders of magnitude, or 10 trillion trillion times, more intense than the sunlight striking Earth.

Those intensities will open the possibility of breaking the vacuum. According to the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), which describes how electromagnetic fields interact with matter, the vacuum is not as empty as classical physics would have us believe. Over extremely short time scales, pairs of electrons and positrons, their antimatter counterparts, flicker into existence, born of quantum mechanical uncertainty. Because of their mutual attraction, they annihilate each another almost as soon as they form.

But a very intense laser could, in principle, separate the particles before they collide.... "This will be completely new physics," Sergeev says. He adds that the gamma ray photons would be energetic enough to push atomic nuclei into excited states, ushering in a new branch of physics known as "nuclear photonics"—the use of intense light to control nuclear processes.(Emphasis added)

So...hmmm... the very thing used to create particle/anti-particle pairs could conceivably be used to sustain their separation... and as a remote possibility, collect a bunch of them and (crawling way out onto the end of the twig of speculation), conceivably create whole molecules of "anti-elements"? Not to worry, that's centuries away, if even possible at all. After all, particle/anti-particle theory has been around mere decades and ... uhm... here we are talking about ripping the vacuum symmetry apart with powerful lasers only a few decades later.

Well... there you are. I started out trying to convince myself that there was nothing to worry about here. It's only a few particles, after all. All the other stuff is just wild and woolly end-of-the-twig speculation. Nothing-to-see-here, move along. But I'm curiously and massively uneasy about this, and cannot escape the image I have in my head of a National Enquirer headline: Scientists Admit Experiment Went Wrong: Alternative Universe Created... and Growing..."

There's always the "oops factor", folks.

See you on the flip side...


Posted in

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. Pierre on January 31, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    He didnt say in his book where he got his ideas from, but it was a good alternative physics read. Walter Russell The Secret Of Light.
    all is one and one for all… unless the Chinese beat us to it.

  2. BlueWren on January 29, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I did a search for “National Enquirer headline: Scientists Admit Experiment Went Wrong: Alternative Universe Created… and Growing” . Does anyone have it? National Enquirer gave me a search error message.

  3. goshawks on January 29, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    From the referenced article:
    “At intensities around 1024 W/cm2, the field would be strong enough to start to break the mutual attraction between some of the electron-positron pairs… The laser field would then shake the particles, causing them to emit electromagnetic waves – in this case, gamma rays. The gamma rays would, in turn, generate new electron-positron pairs, and so on, resulting in an avalanche of particles and radiation that could be detected.”

    This is far from the “rip apart empty space” hysteria. It is simple conservation of energy. The “avalanche of particles and radiation” produced is ultimately just a conversion of the input laser energy. No gain, no loss.

    However, since we know so little about the vacuum (the ‘floor’ energy state), there should be caution. Who knows if there is ‘runaway’ (positive feedback) potential? Fermi’s Paradox may be rooted in vacuum energy experiments…

    • Westcoaster on February 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Yes indeed, aren’t we sorta kinda like Apes playing catch with Nitroglycerin? One of these days they’ll succeed in actually changing physics (Dies the fire) and perhaps the end of electricity and life as we know it.

  4. paraschtick on January 29, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Talk about using a hammer to smash a peanut. I often think that they have to use these enormous lasers or machines like at CERN because the particle scientists don’t really have a clue what they are doing.

    Tesla was doing amazing stuff without massive lasers, huge machines, and vast mountains of money because he knew what he was doing.

    I believe that a lot of what these people are trying to achieve will be able to be done in much simpler ways.

    We need another Tesla to show the “big boys” what they are doing wrong. That way we will be able to manipulate space-time in ways that these jumped up tinkerers haven’t even dreamed of yet … maybe.

    • DanaThomas on January 30, 2018 at 2:42 am

      Good point paraschtick

      • paraschtick on January 30, 2018 at 5:47 pm

        Thank you.

        … and another thing … I studied electromagnetism at the University of Edinburgh, and did my laboratory work in the James Clerk Maxwell Building there. It was only many years later did I hear about the way that Maxwell’s equations had been simplified, and that was through Dr Farrell. That really blew my mind. I am now re-reading physics. I want to be able to try to figure out what we are really missing vis a vis electromagnetism. The maths may be hard (the original “quaternions” used in Maxwell’s work are apparently rather difficult to manipulate) … but blimey, somebody should!! (laugh out loud). We have computers to deal with hard stuff now. Why somebody hasn’t yet, I really don’t know why.
        It is my thought that all of Tesla’s ideas stem from the missing bits of Maxwell’s simplified equations. I think that was one of the most stupid scientific idiocies in history. We could have gained so much just sticking with the original equations as written (sorry … bit ranty … still a bit angry over all this, I think :D) …

        • goshawks on January 30, 2018 at 7:40 pm

          paraschtick, if you actually start working with Maxwell’s original “quaternions”, please keep the Gizars informed of your progress and insights. Most of us, while tech-savvy, are not electromagnetism experts. You would be a good ‘resource’ for the community. You might even apply for one of Joseph’s ‘other experts’ columns…

    • Kahlypso on January 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

      We wont have another Tesla, we had one and ignored him.. because.. Robber Barons.
      Next Tesla to come along will be sucked into the machine, because they know what to look for this time.

      • paraschtick on January 30, 2018 at 5:41 pm

        Yeah, I agree. A number of inventions have been sat on over the years. Water (hydrogen) powered cars, over-unity devices, a thing I saw years ago on British TV: a substance invented by a hairdresser(!) which some say could withstand the force and heat of a nuclear explosion. They showed it on tv, and they had a presenter handle it after it had been heated up with a blowtorch. It was COOL to the touch!!!! Scottish inventor Sandy Kidd put two gyroscopes together in a certain way, and discovered that things would lose mass. He started working with some overseas corporation, and his device was never heard of, again. It goes on and on and on.

        The powers that be will sit on anything that will prevent them from making money. It is said that Rockefeller took the electric trams out of New York because they weren’t using his oil/gasoline.

        They will stop anyone like Tesla ever happening again. It’s far too dangerous for them. We would get free energy, and not be so controllable. It is truly sad that people at the top are so psychopathic since we would have unbelievable things today if we had learnt and grown from what Telsa was demonstrating.

  5. DanaThomas on January 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    The ubiquitous Li clan yet again…

    • Kahlypso on January 30, 2018 at 6:01 am

      13 families

  6. marcos toledo on January 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Another day at mad scientists central this time located in China. I wonder if they really know what they are doing or care.

  7. Robert Barricklow on January 29, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Zero point energies?
    Now there’s the real gold being spun from nothing.

    Many moon ago…
    Discovered, and quashed by the petroleum-based monopoly on power. An ironic, twisted use of power
    in every sense of the word.
    J. P. Morgan Inc. , and ilk ,made sure Tesla ideas, and others like him, were deep sixed.
    Where were the heroes then?

    Today, are they buried and/or soon to be…
    in Facebook’s/Google’s disappeared digitized ink?

  8. basta on January 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    What I found most interesting about the article was that the writer was forced to acknowledge that “empty space” actually had stuff in it. Oh, like energy, or what did they call it way back when? …Oh yeah, the aether.

    And we all know where that leads… to the forbidden fruit of Maxwell and Tesla. So just obliterate them with lasers on steroids! Cool! Don’t bother thinking of the implications, just watch the light show!

  9. Baz on January 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Is this similar to the high-voltage arc-welding Philadelphia Experiment episode when objects started disappearing ?

  10. Robert Barricklow on January 29, 2018 at 11:45 am

    for GOD knows how long…
    then a…

    Oh, the suspense of it all!

    Who told Wang to go out play w/nothing?

  11. Robert Barricklow on January 29, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Zeus reborn…
    …and Cronus is getting hungry again.

  12. anakephalaiosis on January 29, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Any object can be defined by center and spin, and intersection of axis and center is “nucleus perpetuity”. “Year” is an objectified spin with a predicted center. “Country” has a objectified center with a predicted spin.

    Point is, that a morphogenetic field can be predicted to have both spin and center. Yahweh is intersection of axis and center. Pyramid & Hakenkreuz in analogue computer!

    Is not crossfire intersection? Is not planetary core a nucleus perpetuity in transfiguration? Is not “Yahweh in heart” precisely that? The road becoming the destination in pilgrimage!

    • basta on January 29, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      Is not crossfire intersection? Is not planetary core a nucleus perpetuity in transfiguration? Is not “Yahweh in heart” precisely that?

      And no, Yahweh is not that — or any of the other 500 other things you claim he is — at all.
      Yahweh is a psychopathic real estate agent: “Stick with me, sign here, and I’ll get you your promised land. Location, location, location!”

      • Baz on January 29, 2018 at 2:04 pm

        “Yahweh in heart” as metaphor for disordered devotion and the splitting of intent from providence (centre and spin)….

        • basta on January 29, 2018 at 2:09 pm

          Well, then my washing machine is a metaphor for Yahweh too, because it spins on a central axis. Do you see my point?

          • Baz on January 29, 2018 at 2:34 pm

            Speculative poetry. I applaud it.

    • goshawks on January 29, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      “ ‘Year’ is an objectified spin with a predicted center. ‘Country’ has a objectified center with a predicted spin.”

      Sounds like a way-out version of Heisenberg’s ‘complementarity’ opposites. Two properties, like position and momentum, where both cannot be measured with absolute precision at the same time. Too bad that Heisenberg is not around to bounce this off-of…

  13. LGL on January 29, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I especially liked the part where it said:

    “Once the laser builders summon the power,”.
    Couldn’t help but think of an invoking priesthood summoning” powers and principalities” commanding them to go o their bidding.
    It’s magical stuff, that high energy physics ….

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