# Did Wheeler and Feynman said that vacuum zero point energy could boil the oceans?

Following on this Were Feynman diagrams motivated by the cosmological constant problem? and this Who was the first to estimate the vacuum energy discrepancy by 120 orders of magnitude? I found a recurring phrase in popular sources saying something like:

John Wheeler and Richard Feynman, famously predicted the value of the energy density of vacuum energy to be an astronomically huge number, $$10^{112}$$ ergs/cm$$^3$$. This value is so massive that Feynman and Wheeler said it would take only a teacup of this type of energy to boil the Earth’s oceans

Source: Ellie Gabel What is vacuum energy really 2022.

Note that (as pointed in the comments) the source above even provides a ridiculously high value for the vacuum energy density.

After looking for this, the closest I found was the lead of the Wikipedia article for Zero-point energy, which sources points to a The Guardian article Mark Pilkington, Zero point energy, 2003, quote:

Wheeler and Richard Feynman calculated that there is enough such energy in the vacuum inside a single light bulb to boil all the world's oceans.

Looking a bit further I found that sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his book The songs of a distant Earth (1986):

An admittedly naive calculation by Richard Feynman suggests that every cubic centimetre of vacuum contains enough energy to boil all the oceans of Earth. Another estimate by John Wheeler gives a value a mere seventy-nine orders of magnitude larger. When two of the world’s greatest physicists disagree by a little matter of seventy-nine zeros, the rest of us may be excused a certain scepticism; but it’s at least an interesting thought that the vacuum inside an ordinary light bulb contains enough energy to destroy the galaxy... and perhaps, with a little extra effort, the cosmos.

Is there a pre-1986 article by Wheeler and/or Feynman on zero point energy or on the cosmological problem? I unable to find it and this phrasing only appears in popular sources. Maybe it comes from some popular material by Feynman? or was this fabricated by Clarke?

• At ${10}^{112}$ ergs/cm$^3,$ there's hardly any realistic difference between boiling all the oceans and boiling/killing a single bacterium (factor of ${10}^{36}).$ The total sun energy released per second is $3 \times {10}^{33}$ ergs. The total sun energy released in $10$ billion years is ${10}^{51}$ ergs, which is about the same amount of energy released in a supernova (which would totally vaporize Earth at its present distance from the sun). The total energy released if every one of the $300$ billion stars in our galaxy went supernova is about $3 \times {10}^{59}$ ergs. (continued) Aug 5, 2023 at 23:44
• So using $10^{112}$ ergs to boil all the oceans is roughly like using $10^{17}$ many galaxies of $300$ billion supernovas each to boil/kill a bacterium. Aug 5, 2023 at 23:44