Regular Article

The European Physical Journal D

, 67:58

First online:

The quantum vacuum as the origin of the speed of light

  • Marcel UrbanAffiliated withLAL, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS/IN2P3
  • , François CouchotAffiliated withLAL, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS/IN2P3
  • , Xavier SarazinAffiliated withLAL, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS/IN2P3 Email author 
  • , Arache Djannati-AtaiAffiliated withAPC, Université Paris Diderot, CNRS/IN2P3

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We show that the vacuum permeability μ 0 and permittivity ε 0 may originate from the magnetization and the polarization of continuously appearing and disappearing fermion pairs. We then show that if we simply model the propagation of the photon in vacuum as a series of transient captures within these ephemeral pairs, we can derive a finite photon velocity. Requiring that this velocity is equal to the speed of light constrains our model of vacuum. Within this approach, the propagation of a photon is a statistical process at scales much larger than the Planck scale. Therefore we expect its time of flight to fluctuate. We propose an experimental test of this prediction.


Quantum Optics