The Zero Point Age

In a drab little corner classroom at the UK’s University of Sussex on a frosty day in January 2001, a group of sixty scientists from ten countries had crowded together to try to work out exactly how they were going to fly 20 trillion miles into deep space.


NASA had had a few Breakthrough Propulsion Physics workshops in America and this was to be the international equivalent: one of the first independent workshops ever held on propulsion.


Indeed, it had attracted an impressive audience of physicists from the British government, a NASA marshal, various astrophysicists from the French Laboratoire D’Astrophysics Marseilles and the French Laboratory of Gravitation, Relativity and Cosmology, professors from American and European universities, and some fifteen representatives of private industry.


This was just a seed meeting, not a true scientific conference, mainly to start the ball rolling - a precursor to the international conference to be held December 2001.


Nevertheless, there was an unmistakable air of expectancy around the room, tacit acknowledgment that each person present was perched on the very frontier of scientific knowledge and might even be witness to the dawning of a new age. Graham Ennis, the conference organizer, had lured representatives from most of the major British newspapers and science magazines by dangling before them the prediction that in five years’ time we’d be building our own small rockets with WARP drives to keep satellites in their correct positions.

However distinguished the audience, the greatest deference was reserved for Dr Hal Puthoff, by now in his early sixties, a bit thinner but still with his thatch of greying hair, who’d spent nearly thirty years trying to determine whether you could harness the space between the stars. To a handful of the younger members of the audience, Hal had become something of a cult figure.


A young British government physicist called Richard Obousy had stumbled across Hal’s Zero Point Field papers during his university studies, and been thunderstruck by their implications, so much so that they’d influenced the course of his own career.1


And now he was faced with the prospect of both meeting the great man and preceding him on the podium with a small introductory talk on manipulating the vacuum - a warm-up act to the day’s main attraction.

To any outside observation, this was something more than a frivolous exercise, a batch of technocrats playing at constructing the ultimate techno-toy. It was clear to every scientist in the room that the planet had, at most, fifty years of fossil fuel left and humans were facing a climate crisis as the greenhouse effect slowly turned our world into a gas chamber.


Looking for new sources of energy wasn’t just necessary to power spaceships. It was also vital to power earth and maintain it intact for the next generation.

Experiments making use of the most outlandish of new ideas in physics had been going on covertly for thirty years. Rumors abounded about secret testing sites at places like Los Alamos with billion-dollar ‘black’ budgets that NASA or the American military continued to hotly deny. Even British Aerospace had launched its own secret program - code-named Project Greenglow - to study the possibility of turning off gravity.2

Loads of other possibilities, all resting on solid, proven physics, might provide for new methods of space-flight propulsion, said Ennis, who was presiding over the first day. You could: control inertia, so that you could move large things such as spacecraft with small forces; use one of a number of nuclear fusion techniques, which would require tremendous pressure and temperature; employ a radioactive fission reactor, as the Russians had done; use tethers, which would extract electrostatic energy; employ matter-antimatter effects, where the reaction of matter meeting its opposite number creates energy; change electromagnetic fields; or rotate superconductors.


At a NASA congress in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they’d been exploring the possibility of a spaceship creating its own wormhole, much as Carl Sagan had imagined in Contact.3


A number of private companies, including Lockheed Martin, were enthusiastic and had lent their support. This could have all sorts of practical everyday applications on earth. Imagine, for instance, if you could turn off gravity and levitate patients. You could make bedsores a thing of the past.

Or you could try something even more outlandish. You could try to extract your energy from the nothingness of space itself. The ‘ZPF’, scientists agreed, represented one of the best possible scenarios - a ‘cosmic free lunch’, as Graham Ennis liked to put it, an endless supply of something from nothing. After physicist Robert Forward of Hughes Research Laboratory in Malibu, California, wrote a paper about it, theorizing how you might conduct experiments,4 physicists were beginning to believe that it may be possible to get to it and, more importantly, get energy out of it.

During his talk the following day, Hal Puthoff explained that, in quantum mechanical terms, if you were going to attempt to extract energy from The Field, you’d have several choices.


You’d need to decouple from gravity, reduce inertia or generate enough energy from the vacuum to overcome both. The US Air Force had first recommended that Forward do his study to measure the Casimir force, the quantum force between two metal plates caused by partially shielding the space between them from zero-point fluctuations in the vacuum and so unbalancing the zero-point energy radiations.


Forward, an expert in gravitational theory, was given the assignment by the Propulsion Directorate of the Phillips Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, which has the task of launching research into twenty-first-century space propulsion.

They had proof that vacuum fluctuations could be altered using technology.


However, Casimir forces are unimaginably small - a pressure of just one hundred-millionth of an atmosphere on plates held a thousandth of a millimeter apart.5


Bernie Haisch and Daniel Cole published a paper theorizing that if you built a vacuum engine of an enormous number of such colliding plates, each would generate heat when they finally come into contact and give you power. The problem is that each plate creates, at most, a half of a microwatt’s worth of energy - ‘not much to write home about’, said Puthoff.6


You’d need tiny systems running at a very high rate for it to work on any level.

Forward thought that it was possible to do an experiment on altering inertia by making changes in the vacuum. He recommended four such experiments to be carried out to test this concept.7


Scientists working in quantum electrodynamics had already shown that these vacuum fluctuations could be controlled once you manipulated the spontaneous emission rates of atoms. It was Puthoff ’s view that electrons get their energy to whiz around the nucleus of an atom without slowing down because they are tapping quantum fluctuations of empty space. If we could manipulate that field, he said, we could destabilize atoms and extract the power from them.8

It was theoretically possible to extract energy from the Zero Point Field; even in nature scientists had conjectured that this was exactly what was happening when cosmic rays ‘power up’ or energy is released by supernovas and gamma-ray bursters.


There were other ideas, such as the spectacular conversion of sound into light waves, or sonoluminescence, where water, bombarded with intense sound waves, creates air bubbles which rapidly contract and collapse in a flash of light. The theory in some quarters was that this phenomenon was caused by zero-point energy inside the bubbles, which, once the bubbles shrank, converted into light.


But Puthoff had already tried all these ideas in turn and felt they held little promise.

The US Air Force had also been exploring the idea of cosmic rays driven by zero-point energy, where protons could be accelerated in a cryogenically cooled, collision-free vacuum trap - a chamber that had been cooled as close as possible to absolute zero. This would give you about the emptiest space possible to attempt to extract energy from vacuum fluctuations of protons once they started to go faster.


Another idea was downshifting the more energetic high-frequency parts of zero-point energy through the use of specially created antennae.

In his own laboratory, Puthoff had been playing around with a method that would involve perturbing ground states of atoms or molecules. According to his own theories, these were simply equilibrium states involving the dynamic radiation/absorption exchange with the Zero Point Field. So if you employed some sort of Casimir cavity, the atoms or molecules might undergo energy shifts that would alter excitations involving the ground states. He’d already begun experiments at a synchrotron facility, a place with a special subatomic accelerator, to try this, but had so far met with failure.9

Then Hal thought of turning the whole project inside out, following up on a notion first mooted by general relativity theorist Miguel Alcubierre of the University of Wales. Alcubierre had tried to determine whether WARP drives, as described in Star Trek, really were possible.10


Suppose you ignore quantum theory and look upon this as a problem of general relativity. Instead of invoking Niels Bohr, you invoke Albert Einstein. What if you tried modifying the space-time metric? If you use the curved space-time of Einstein, you treat the vacuum as a medium that could be polarized. You do a little ‘vacuum engineering,’ as Nobel prize laureate Tsung-Dao Lee called it.11


Under this interpretation, the bending of a light ray, say, near a massive body, is caused by a variation in the refractive index of the vacuum near that mass. The propagation of light defines the space-time metric. What you might be able to do is decrease the refractive index of the Zero Point Field, which would then increase the speed of light. If you modify space-time to an extreme degree, the speed of light is greatly increased.


Mass then decreases and energy-bond strength increases - features that theoretically would make interstellar travel possible.

What you do is to distort and expand space-time behind the spaceship, contract space-time in front of it, and then surf along on it faster than the speed of light. In other words, you restructure general relativity as an engineer would. If you could successfully do this, you could make a spaceship travel at ten times the speed of light, which would be apparent to people on earth but not to the astronauts inside. You’d finally have yourself a Star Trek WARP drive.

What you are doing by such ‘metric engineering’, as Hal termed it, is getting space-time to push you away from the earth and toward your destination. This is possible by creating large-scale Casimir-like forces.


Another possible type of metric engineering, which also requires using Casimir forces, is traveling through wormholes - ‘cosmic subways’12, as Hal referred to them, which connect you to distant parts of the universe, as was imagined in Contact.

‘But how close were we to doing any of this?’, the audience asked.

Hal coughed to clear his throat, his characteristic tic.


It might take twenty years to do it, he replied laconically. Or it might take that same amount of time just to decide that it was not possible to get to it. You probably weren’t looking at major space travel in his lifetime, although he still held out hope of extracting energy for earthbound fuel before he died.

The first international propulsion workshop was an undoubted success, a good meeting place for physicists who’d been working away on their own at problems of energy and thrust that might take half a century to see the light of day. It was evident to everyone that they were at the beginning of an exploration that would one day, as Arthur C. Clarke had put it, make today’s current efforts at venturing beyond our atmosphere look like nineteenth-century attempts to conquer flight with a hot-air balloon.13


But in different parts of the world, many of Puthoff ’s old colleagues, also now in their sixties, were working away without fanfare on more earthbound activities that were every bit as revolutionary, all predicated on the idea that all communication in the universe exists as a pulsating frequency and The Field provides the basis for everything to communicate with everything else.

In Paris, The DigiBio team, still in its Portakabin, had by now perfected the art of capturing, copying and transferring the electromagnetic signals from cells.


Since 1997, Benveniste and his DigiBio colleagues have filed three patents on diverse applications. For Benveniste the biologist, the applications, naturally enough, were medical. He believed his discovery could open the way for an entirely new digital biology and medicine, which would replace the current clumsy hit-and-miss method of taking drugs.

It occurred to him that if you don’t need the molecule itself, but only its signal, then you don’t need to take drugs, do biopsies or test for toxic substances or pathogens such as parasites and bacteria with physical sampling. As he’d already shown in one study, you could use frequency signaling to detect the bacteria E. coli.14


It’s known that latex particles sensitized to a certain antibody will cluster in the presence of E. coli K1. By recording the signal for E. coli, another bacteria and also control substances, and then applying them to the latex particles, Benveniste found that the E. coli produced the largest clusters of any of the frequencies. Before long, his team’s record for detecting the E. coli signal became virtually perfect.

Using digital recording, we could uncover those pathogens like prions, which have no reliable means of detection, and no longer waste precious laboratory resources in determining whether antigens are present in the body and whether the body has mounted antibodies to them.


It also may mean that when we are ill, we may not need to take drugs. We could get rid of unwanted parasites or bacteria just by playing an unfriendly frequency. We could use electromagnetic means of detecting dangerous microorganisms in our agriculture or use them to find out whether foods have been genetically modified.


If we could come up with the right frequencies, we wouldn’t have to use dangerous pesticides but could just kill bugs with electromagnetic signals. You wouldn’t even have to do all this detection work in person. Virtually all the test samples could be emailed and carried out remotely.

In America, the AND Corporation, a company with offices in New York, Toronto and Copenhagen, was working away at artificial intelligence based upon the ideas of Karl Pribram and Walter Schempp about how the brain works. Its proprietary system, called Holographic Neural Technology (Hnet), for which it now has a worldwide patent, used principles of holography and wave encoding for computers to learn tens of thousands of stimulus-response memories in less than a minute and to respond to tens of thousands of these patterns in less than a second. In AND’s view, its system was an artificial replica of how the brain works.


Single neuron cells with just a few synapses were capable of learning memories instantly.

Millions of these memories could be superimposed. The model demonstrates how these cells can memorize abstraction - a concept, say, or a human face. AND had ambitious plans for its technology. It was planning to set up Strategic Business Units, in different specialties, which, if developed properly, might transform the information processing of virtually any industry.

Fritz-Albert Popp and his team of IIB scientists were beginning to test biophoton-emission detection as a means of determining whether food was fresh. His experiments and the theoretical approach behind them were gaining acceptance among the scientific community.

Dean Radin put some of his studies up on the Internet for visitors to participate in, and engaged in giant computerized experiments. Braud and Targ carried on with more studies of human intention and healing. Brenda Dunne and Bob Jahn carried on adding to their mountain of data. Roger Nelson, with his Global Project, continued to measure small tremors on the collective cosmic seismograph.

Edgar Mitchell presented the keynote address of CASYS 1999, an annual mathematical conference in Liège, Belgium, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Anticipatory Systems, which incorporated his synthesis of theories of quantum holography and human consciousness.


The discovery of the presence of quantum resonance in living things and the ability of the Zero Point Field to encode information and provide instantaneous communication represented no less than the Rosetta Stone of human consciousness, he said.15 All the different strands he’d been investigating for thirty years were finally beginning to come together.

At that same conference, he and Pribram were honored together for their exploration of outer space and inner space - Pribram for his scientific work on the holographic brain, and Mitchell for outstanding scientific work on noetic sciences.


That same year, Pribram received the Dagmar and Václav Havel prize for bringing together the sciences and humanities.

Hal Puthoff sat on the unofficial subcommittee of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Program: the Advanced Deep Space Transport (ADST) Group - a group of people, he said, who are on the ‘frontier of the frontier’.16

In his capacity as director of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hal operated as a clearinghouse for inventors or companies who think they’ve developed a gadget of any sort that taps into the Zero Point Field. Hal would put each one to the ultimate test - it must show that more energy is coming out of the gadget than going in. Thus far, every one of the thirty devices tested by him has failed. But he is still optimistic, as only a frontier scientist can be.17

In terms of the real import of their discoveries these practical uses represented only a bit of technological froth. All of them - Robert Jahn and Hal Puthoff, Fritz-Albert Popp and Karl Pribram - were philosophers as well as scientists, and on rare occasions when they weren’t busy pressing on with their experimentation, it had occurred to them that they had dug deep and come up with something profound - possibly even a new science. They had the beginnings of an answer to much of what had remained missing in quantum physics.


Peter Milonni at Los Alamos’s NASA facilities had speculated that if the fathers of quantum theory had used classical physics with the Zero Point Field, the scientific community would have been far more satisfied with the result than they were by the many unanswerables of quantum physics.18


There are those who believe quantum theory will one day be replaced by a modified classical theory which takes into account the Zero Point Field. The work of these scientists may take the word ‘quantum’ out of quantum physics and create a unified physics of the world, large and small.

Each scientist had taken his own incredible voyage of discovery.


As young scientists with promising credentials, each had begun his career holding certain tenets sacred - the ideas and received wisdom of their peers:

  • The human being is a survival machine largely powered by chemicals and genetic coding.

  • The brain is a discrete organ and the home of consciousness, which is also largely driven by chemistry - the communication of cells and the coding of DNA.

  • Man is essentially isolated from his world, and his mind is isolated from his body.

  • Time and space are finite, universal orders.

  • Nothing travels faster than the speed of light.

Each of them had chanced upon an anomaly in this thinking and had the courage and the independence to pursue that line of inquiry.


One by one, the zero point age through painstaking experiment and trial and error, each had eventually come to the position that every one of these tenets - bedrocks of physics and biology - were probably wrong:

  • The communication of the world did not occur in the visible realm of Newton, but in the subatomic world of Werner Heisenberg.

  • Cells and DNA communicated through frequencies.

  • The brain perceived and made its own record of the world in pulsating waves.

  • A substructure underpins the universe that is essentially a recording medium of everything, providing a means for everything to communicate with everything else.

  • People are indivisible from their environment. Living consciousness is not an isolated entity. It increases order in the rest of the world.

  • The consciousness of human beings has incredible powers, to heal ourselves, to heal the world - in a sense, to make it as we wish it to be.

Every day in their laboratories, these scientists caught a tiny glimmer of the possibilities suggested by their discoveries.


They’d found that we were something far more impressive than evolutionary happenstance or genetic survival machines. Their work suggested a decentralized but unified intelligence that was far grander and more exquisite than Darwin or Newton had imagined, a process that was not random or chaotic, but intelligent and purposeful. They’d discovered that in the dynamic flow of life, order triumphed.

These are discoveries that may change the lives of future generations in many practical ways, in fuel-less travel and instant levitation; but in terms of understanding the furthest reaches of human potential, their work suggested something far more profound. In the past, individuals had accidentally evidenced some ability - a premonition, a ‘past life’, a clairvoyant image, a gift for healing - which quickly was dismissed as a freak of nature or a confidence trick.


The work of these scientists suggested that this was a capacity neither abnormal nor rare, but present in every human being. Their work hinted at human abilities beyond what we’d ever dreamed possible.


We were far more than we realized. If we could understand this potential scientifically, we might then learn how to systematically tap into it. This would vastly improve every area of our lives, from communication and self-knowledge to our interaction with our material world. Science would no longer reduce us to our lowest common denominator.


It would help us take a final evolutionary step in our own history by at last understanding ourselves in all of our potential.

These experiments had helped to validate alternative medicine, which has been shown to work empirically but has never been understood. If we could finally work out the science of medicine that treats human energy levels and the exact nature of the ‘energy’ that was being treated, the possibilities for improved health were unimaginable.

These were also discoveries which scientifically verified the ancient wisdom and folklore of traditional cultures. Their theories offered scientific validation of many of the myths and religions humans have believed in since the beginning of time, but have hitherto only had faith to rely on. All they’d done was to provide a scientific framework for what the wisest among us already knew.

Traditional Australian Aborigines believe, as do many other ‘primitive’ cultures, that rocks, stones and mountains are alive and that we ‘sing’ the world into being - that we are creating as we name things. The discoveries of Braud and Jahn showed that this was more than superstition. It was just as the Achuar and the Huaorani Indians believe. On our deepest level, we do share our dreams.

The coming scientific revolution heralded the end of dualism in every sense.


Far from destroying God, science for the first time was proving his existence - by demonstrating that a higher, collective consciousness was out there. There need no longer be two truths, the truth of science and the truth of religion. There could be one unified vision of the world.

This revolution in scientific thinking also promised to give us back a sense of optimism, something that has been stripped out of our sense of ourselves with the arid vision of twentieth-century philosophy, largely derived from the views espoused by science. We were not isolated beings living our desperate lives on a lonely planet in an indifferent universe.


We never were alone. We were always part of a larger whole. We were and always had been at the center of things. Things did not fall apart. The center did hold and it was we who were doing the holding.

We had far more power than we realized, to heal ourselves, our loved ones, even our communities. Each of us had the ability - and together a great collective power - to improve our lot in life. Our life, in every sense, was in our hands.

These were bold insights and discoveries but very few had heard them. For thirty years, these pioneers had presented their findings at small mathematical conferences or the annual meetings of tiny scientific bodies created to promote a dialogue on frontier science.


They knew and admired each other’s work and were acknowledged at these small gatherings of their peers.


Most of the scientists had been young men when they made their discoveries, and before they embarked on what turned out to be lifelong detours they had been highly respected, even revered. Now they were approaching retirement age, and among the wider scientific community most of their work still had never seen the light of day.


They were all Christopher Columbus and nobody believed what they’d returned to tell. The bulk of the scientific community ignored them, continuing to grip tightly to the notion that the earth was flat.

The space-propulsion activities had been the only acceptable face of the Zero Point Field. Despite their rigorous scientific protocols, nobody in the orthodox community was taking any other discoveries of theirs seriously.


Some, like Benveniste, had merely been marginalized. For many years, Edgar Mitchell, now 71, depended on lectures about his exploits in outer space to fund his research into consciousness. Every so often Robert Jahn would submit a paper with unimpeachable statistical evidence to an engineering journal, and they would dismiss it out of hand. Not for the science, but for its shattering implications about the current scientific world view.

Nevertheless, Jahn and Puthoff and the other scientists all knew what they had.


Each carried on with the stubborn blinkered confidence of the true inventor. The old way was simply one more hot-air balloon. Resistance was the way it had always been in science. New ideas were always considered heretical. Their evidence might well change the world forever. There were many areas to be refined, other paths to go down.


Many might turn out to be detours or even dead ends, but the first tentative inquiries had been made.


It was a start, a first step, the way all real science started.


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