The Weight of the Vacuum: A Scientific History of Dark Energy

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Springer, May 21, 2014 - Science - 113 pages
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of cosmic acceleration due to dark energy, a discovery that is all the more perplexing as nobody knows what dark energy actually is. We put the modern concept of cosmological vacuum energy into historical context and show how it grew out of disparate roots in quantum mechanics (zero-point energy) and relativity theory (the cosmological constant, Einstein's “greatest blunder”). These two influences have remained strangely aloof and still co-exist in an uneasy alliance that is at the heart of the greatest crisis in theoretical physics, the cosmological-constant problem.
 

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Contents

1 Early Ideas of Space and Vacuum
1
2 The Active Ether
7
3 Plancks Second Quantum Theory
13
4 HalfQuanta and ZeroPoint Energy
19
5 Nernsts Cosmic QuantumEther
28
6 The Hamburg Connection
39
7 The Cosmological Constant
47
8 From Casimir to Zeldovich
57
9 Inflation and the False Vacuum
67
10 Variable Cosmological Constants and Quintessence
77
11 How Heavy Is the Vacuum?
88
12 The Accelerating Universe
101
Author Index
111
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About the author (2014)

Prof. James Overduin, Baltimore, MD, USA

Prof. Helge Kragh, Aarhus University, Denmark

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