future events

Surprises in Casimir Physics

Speaker:Ulf Leonhardt
Time:14:30 - 15:30
Location:Lidow Rosen Auditorium (323)

In 1948 Casimir discovered that the quantum vacuum may exert a force on macroscopic bodies – two mirrors attract each other in complete vacuum. Around 1960 Lifshitz, Dzyaloshinskii  and Pitaevskii generalized the theory of the Casimir effect to bodies of arbitrary shape and dielectric response. Since 1997 high-precision experiments appeared that agree with modern computational versions of Lifshitz’ theory to an accuracy only limited by the knowledge of the dielectric properties of the bodies involved. The Casimir effect is well understood. Or is it? The Casimir force between macroscopic bodies is well understood, but not the force inside bodies. One example is the Casimir stress of a sphere onto itself - a problem Schwinger and his postdocs attempted to solve about 40 years ago, but gave up. Not much progress has been made since then. The seminar discusses these problems and our steps towards their solutions. Be prepared for surprises.