What's 'nothing' ???

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by KneD, Jun 17, 2001.

  1. KneD Le Penseur Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    What and where is nothing;

    You would probably say that vacuum is nothing...but light can travel through this vacuum, so there is a form of energy....(photons)
    and when there is energy, can you say that there is nothing.

    and between electrons, neutrons and protons, I'm teached there's nothing.
    But what is this nothing?

    I am gettin' a little freaked out about this, so help me pls and explain what 'nothing' exactly is.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,339
    Hi KneD,

    Nothing = absence of something (in this case energy or matter). You can regard the space between atoms or particles as spacetime not filled with matter.

    Bye!

    Crisp
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,235
    Confused!

    Hey Crisp,

    Re. your reply to KneD: Are you essentially saying that 'nothingness' is a microcosmic phenomena, but not a macrocosmic one?
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. KneD Le Penseur Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    so you don't say there is 'nothing' between atoms, do you?
    Is there a place somewhere in universe where is nothing?
     
  8. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,339
    Microscopic

    Hi KneD, Chagur

    Chagur: Yes I would tend to look on a microscopic scale to define "nothing", simply because on a macroscopic scale, nothingness because non-existent. You could say that an empty room has nothing inside, but there are airmolecules bouncing around (microscopic). Even in space, there are a few atoms in every cubic meter (and then we're not speaking about the trillions of neutrinos and other particles that zap through). So to me personally, a "macroscopic" nothing does not exist inside the universe (you are always exposed to some sort of radiation, neutrinos or electromagnetic in type).

    On a microscopic scale, and this relates to KneD's question, things become different. If you look on a fine enough scale, I think it is possible that you're actually looking at ... nothing... empty space (however, this is probably only for a very short time since something zaps by every now and then - and this is not related to virtual particle pairs since these are not directly observable anyway).

    KneD, whether or not there's something between atoms is a tricky one. Quantummechanics makes it hard to say that the electrons are well-localized around the nucleus (because of a spread in the wavefunction). The problem here is the following: the more conventional theory of quantummechanics tells you that from the moment you look at an electron, its spread on the wavefunction becomes zero (the electron is well defined in space, also referred to as the collapse of the wavefunction). If you look at a very small area near the nucleus, you have a certain probability of finding the electron in that area. If you would do two measurements, you could find the electron in that area, while making the exact same measurement again (*) could yield the opposite result.

    (*) This is under the reservation that an experiment is 100% repeatable. The problem is that measuring a system influences it, so I assume here that the system can be brought back in its initial state, before the first measurement.

    Now this makes it difficult to speak of "nothing". It would seem logical to define "nothing is in that area of space" as "whatever measurement I make, I would find absolutely nothing there". So in the case of electrons bound to a nucleus, I'd say there's "something" there (which is in contrast to my previous post - I hadn't thought it over that well

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ). Some people will say that the electron is spread out, although I have some difficulties grasping that concept.

    Now essentially this leads to another problem: quantummechanically speaking, every wavefunction is spread out over the entire universe (with ofcourse a very very very very very (x10) small chance of finding an elektron in the Andromeda galaxy if you'd measure it here on earth). So technically speaking, even where you'd expect to measure nothing, there would be some wavefunction of an unmeasured particle somewhere in that space. Hrmmm..... Let me think that one over...

    (Perhaps this is a possible explanation for the "virtual" particle pairs, you just measure particles that are actually in the Andromeda galaxy but because they have a tiny probably of emerging here - and because there are a lot (understatement) of particles in the universe, some turn up every now and then

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    = Let me think that one over aswel).

    Bye!

    Crisp
     
  9. KneD Le Penseur Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    206
    Phew..

    well, I think I got your point crisp....

    THANK YOU for your point view, you made a lot clear to me.

    (ik kan waarschijnlijk ook gewoon dankjewel zeggen)
     
  10. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,339
    Indeed

    Hi KneD,

    Inderdaad

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    .

    Bye!

    Crisp.
     
  11. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,402
    It's filled with ether. If not, then what is nothing if it is not filled with something. It's not yet it is? Yoinks!
     
  12. Porfiry Nomad Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Is there a difference in 'nothingness' between an empty void in the middle of the universe and whatever it is that lies beyond the boundaries of the universe? Is the 'nothing' inside the universe more substantive than the 'nothing' outside?


    This recalls the one problem that my mind can never reason about -- that everything (the universe) is distinctly finite. How can everything be finite!? It may seem simple and trivial at first glance, but I've found that any attempt to grok this leads to failure. It's rather interesting to have found a statement that I cannot intuitively understand -- and never will. I suspect the problem lies more with the definition of "everything" than with "finite".
     
  13. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,339
    Where science fails and philosphy steps in...

    Hi Dave,

    I would say there's a difference between empty space (whether wavefunctions from particles somewhere are non-zero there, see previous post) and whatever it is "beyond" our universe. A particle can exist in empty space if put there, it cannot exist beyond the boundaries of the universe; as per definition, the universe is ... everything, the whole spacetime fabric with all its extra dimensions (if we are to believe stringtheory), all the matter and energy.

    I would just like to add that it's quite difficult to speak in an exact scientific way of what is beyond the universe, there are no verified theories or experiments on this. I think it's also impossible to go beyond the boundaries of the universe to do an observation there.
    • First of all, how would you define the boundary of the universe ? Surely no problem in a mathematical way, the universe can be described as a 4 dimensional sphere or surface (depending on whether you allow big crunches or not

      Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

      ). Physically speaking, there's ofcourse no sign saying "you're now leaving the known universe".
    • Secondly, from a mathematical point of view we live on that multidimensional sphere/surface, so the boundary of the universe is at every point of spacetime. However, what mechanism would one use to step "outside" ?
    • ...

    I think you have a good point that the problems arise with the definition of "everything". Do we just count the matter and energy as everything ? Or do we include empty spacetime aswel ? Do we include higher dimensions if they exist ? Et cetera...

    On your note on how everything can be finite: it depends on the point of view on the universe. From our 3 or 4 dimensional point of view, space is infinite, either as a surface (we can never reach the border because it would be moving away faster than we can travel, hence infinite), or as a sphere (you can keep on driving circles on the earth, you'll never reach a boundary - well no boundary of earth anyway, we're not talking about some customs fellow stopping you when entering Zimbabwe

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ). If you look in a higher-dimensional world, spacetime would be finite. You can compare this with a circle: in a 1 dimensional world, somebody moving on the edge of a circle would think his world is infinite: he can keep on running, without ever reaching a boundary. If you look at it from a 2 dimensional point of view, you suddenly get a shape with a certain circumfere (2*Pi*R).

    But this leads to the higher dimensional/boundary issue again

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Bye!

    Crisp
     
  14. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,402
  15. cozmicbird Registered Member

    Messages:
    6
    PERHAPS IN THE BEGINNING EVERTHING CAME OUT OF NOTHING. THIS WOULD MEAN THAT NOTHING IS EVERYTHING.
     
  16. Ankit The Angel Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    40
    The beginning...

    Ofcourse, the grandaddy of all mystries is what was there before the universe (i.e. existence). Personally, this fascinates me as a valid topic. However, I must comment that it is in the very nature of human minds to question what and why; we continue to search for something and when there is no mystery, we continue to create them. For example, Einstein, the genius of geniuses, created a cosmological constant, and later admitted it a folly

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    .

    Before the universe, there must have been nothing, the human mind reasons...wrong

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    . Perhaps there was never a time when the universe was not created, no time when he universe was not created, because if photons and particles moved at c (the speed of light), they pretty much defy time, so either a loop or eternity is the answer.

    And ofcourse, there is the debate of what is there outside the universe. Hmm...seen Men In Black? At the end, there is a riveting sequence in which it is implies that our universe is just contained in another universe, which is contained in another...etc. How visionary!
     
  17. Catalyst Registered Member

    Messages:
    5
    KneD

    KneD

    This is an interesting question. Do you have any idea how long it took the human race to understand the concept of zero? A while anyway! The way I look at it is to define nothing is to say that it simply does not exist. As with before the big bang, outside the singularity there was no empty space or lack of light as outside of it did not exist at all. There was no outside.
    A+ if you can make anything out of that paragraph of confusion.
    ha ha.


    Of all the things I've lost ... I miss my mind the most.
    Catalyst.
     
  18. amaroq Registered Member

    Messages:
    6
    i find this to be a very difficult topic to discuss because it seems that every "answer" or theory offered seems to bring up more and more questions based on that specific conclusion and then from those answers given, more quetions arise. as i read through the explanations i find myself thinking "we have defined empty space, yet who actually has a true understanding of it or feeling about it besides being able to state the phrase, lack of everything." then one begins to question what is everything?... then a person begins to explain things in terms of infinity which leads to talk of eternity. though there are certain deffinitions for the words used in context the comprehension of them by the human brain is rather vague and only leads to more questions in this vicious cycle. now that i have probably confused myself beyond the point of no return, i hope that i have just given you a little more to think about.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  19. Counterbalance Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    373
    "Nothing" = "No Thing"

    I know... I know... it's too simple. But to describe anything we have to use our languages--verbal and non-verbal.
    (Spoken and body language--'course, body language doesn't get us very far in a forum. )

    In English, some words stem from very simple concepts. What we then wish to make of those concepts is a-whole-nother ballgame.

    Still, we have to start somewhere, and that's where "nothing" starts from.

    No Thing.

    (Carry on)

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  20. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,110
    How about: an idea, the lack of intelligible information, or what lies beyond the Universe.

    Zero is the idea of nothing, but that makes it something. So, perhaps nothing is best quantified as what may or may not lie beyond the Universe and what we know of it.

    As I see it, it is impossible to know what lies beyond the universe, thus it is meaningless to ask. That sounds like a nothing.

    By definition, the universe is Everything and there can be nothing more that isn't already included in the set of Everything (and what part of everything is nothing, to continue the semantic muse).

    But for the sake of argument, let's suppose there is something outside and beyond the boundry of the Universe -- be it 'edge' or 'neighboring dimension(s)'. How would we learn about outside? Maybe a probe of some sort, passed through the boundry between the Universe and the Beyond?

    Well, the probe necessarily must be built inside the Universe, subject to all the known laws of Nature known to science.

    Then the probe -- all of its various components and systems (whatever they may be) -- must be studied in the greatest possible detail so that we can completely characterize how it will behave in all imaginable situations, so that we might know precisely what portion of any future information it provides us is new information (signal) and which is information that we already know to expect from the probe's operation (noise).

    Satisfied that we know how to substract from the information returned from the Beyond the information that tells us only of the probe itself, we send it on its mission.

    The probe passes through the 'boundry' between the Universe and beyond. Suppose then we actually receive information returned by the probe from the Beyond. Does this information have any meaning at all?

    Afterall, won't the Laws of Nature in the Beyond be different from those in the Universe? (They must or the Beyond wouldn't be the Beyond.)

    Won't the behavior of the probe be different in the Beyond than when it was inside the Universe?

    So what portion of the information being returned from the beyond is information unique to the Beyond, and which portion is information being provided about the probe itself behaving in ways we could never predict?

    Thus, there is no practical difference between being unable to make sense of any information returned from the Beyond and the Beyond being non-existant.

    Therefore, for its apparent meaninglessness, unintelligible information may be as close to nothing as we're likely to find within the Universe (to revisit the semantic argument, nothing is anything we cannot identify as something -- some part of Everything).
     
  21. Rigelsir00 Registered Member

    Messages:
    66
    Nothing is what we are seeking for understanding the universe.That "nothing" is the key for finding out why our universe is curve and what we can find in empty space.
     
  22. Bebelina kospla.com Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,036
    As soon as you try to define nothing...

    ...it becomes something, and is not nothing anymore.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  23. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,110

Share This Page