The Casimir conundrum

When it comes to the Casimir force, physicists are in an embarrassing position.

“Weak intermolecular forces have a truly pervasive impact, from biology to chemistry, from physics to engineering. It may therefore come as a surprise to know that there still exist, in this well established field, unresolved problems of a fundamental character. This is indeed the case with respect to the problem of determining the Van der Waals-Casimir interaction between two metallic bodies at finite temperature. As of now, people simply don’t know how to compute it, and the numerous recent literature on this subject provides contradictory recipes, which give widely different predictions for its magnitude”

So writes Giuseppe Bimonte at the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Naples, Italy. That doesn’t sound good but Bimonte has a way out of the conundrum.

His proposal is to measure the change in Casimir pressure between two superconducting plates as their temperature is raised through their critical value so that they no longer superconduct.

Bimonte claims that the results should unambiguously distinguish between the various competing theories.

Get to it.

Ref: The Casimir Effect in a Superconducting Cavity: a New Tool to Resolve an Old Controversy

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