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I'm quite happy to delete this question if it is felt to be rubbish or if someone can say "nothing original".

I have an idea about how humans might explore the universe and obtain ridiculously huge amounts of power from (literally) nothing.

Isn't one of Dirac's theories that vacuum is in fact an ocean of feverish activity (the Dirac sea), where matter and antimatter are constantly and spontaneously coming into being and cancelling one another out?

So... what about the idea of harnessing this and using the resultant tanks of matter and antimatter to power a spacecraft? ... applying an acceleration of 9.81 ms2 constantly...?

If you could do that, I don't know how much time it would take (as perceived by those on board) to reach several of our nearest star systems... but it'd be pretty quick because you'd quickly get to 99% or closer to the speed of light... obviously the idea would be to accelerate to the mid-point and then decelerate from thereon.

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    $\begingroup$ "Isn't one of Dirac's theories that vacuum is in fact an ocean of feverish activity (the Dirac sea), where matter and antimatter are constantly and spontaneously coming into being and cancelling one another out?" No, the Dirac sea ( which does not exist) was a theoretical model of the vacuum as an infinite sea of particles with negative energy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_sea $\endgroup$ – user184990 Feb 16 '18 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ In fact that phrase in the brackets was added by Qmechanic... which isn't to say I would have known any better. $\endgroup$ – mike rodent Feb 17 '18 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ Well, neither would I, TBH. I searched for it on Google using quotes, but nada......maybe it's the basis for another question? Regards $\endgroup$ – user184990 Feb 17 '18 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if you feel like trusting Wikip it's there at least: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_sea ... this isn't specifically what I meant... I had heard about the theory that matter and antimatter were constantly coming into being and cancelling one another out... and that Dirac's equation first posited the idea of antimatter (I think!)... that's about it! $\endgroup$ – mike rodent Feb 17 '18 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ I had this article recommended to me, and I like it, cause I sure ain't no Qmechanic, but I have seen comments here saying it's not 100 percent accurate.....I hope it's helpful to you profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/… $\endgroup$ – user184990 Feb 17 '18 at 12:00
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That's a twist on the ol' vacuum thruster idea that I hadn't heard before — to try to make an antimatter rocket using antimatter captured from quantum vacuum fluctuations. But given our current understanding of physics, the answer is no, because it's not possible to get energy out of the vacuum. This other question and its answers are good reading on that front.

Of course, this is edging into the realm of physics where we can't really say that we understand what's going on. We define the vacuum to be the lowest energy state, and we have some evidence that it's "real", but maybe there are some subtleties about its interaction with gravity that we don't get, for example. So if you're writing sci-fi and want an antimatter vacuum rocket, go for it.

[Incidentally, I'm no historian, but I don't know why Dirac would be particularly associated with that idea; certainly Heisenberg is the name you hear most in association with vacuum fluctuations because of his uncertainty principle.]

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