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Physics: Is Everything Nothing? July 23, 2015

Posted by anagasto in philosophy.


“Is it true that most of anything (on Earth anyway – not dark matter etc.) is made up of nothing? Even lead – is most of lead made mostly from nothing? Just Space Between Things? (things being the nuclei and electrons).

If this is true, is there an average percentage of how much of things are nothing?”

from Google group sci.physics.relativity



“If an atom were the size of a 14-story building, the nucleus would be the size of a grain of salt. It’s like the sun at the heart of the far-flung solar system. Looking inside an atom would be like looking into the night sky, with its remote planets. That’s how far apart the subatomic particles are, relative to each other. So, if you could approach any “solid” material at the atomic level, you’d find only emptiness, like the vast gulfs of the solar system.”

James A. Haught at http://www.wvinter.net/~haught/physics.html




Even a brick is made of supersonic things flying around like that! And people, too!

However, this is physics, not poetry, and these facts are NOT metaphors for anything at all.  To derive meaning from them is specious and deceptive, and is a soothsayer’s business. Remember humans are some 94% water, and knowing this does not help you at all to understand politics or an illness or what your best friend is planning now. It means nothing.



Philosopher Meditating
by Rembrandt (1606-1669) in public domain at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_038.jpg.

Notice that staircase!





1. J. R. Kerr - September 22, 2007

So what is it really? At any rate it cannot be nothing, because if it was, then what would I be doing here typing as I honestly believe I am? It does not seem to be a serious theory, much too farfetched if you ask me, just trying to get the headlines, I bet.

2. cantueso - September 24, 2007

It is not “farfetched”. Just get some kid’s physics or chemistry or science book. Everything looks pretty much like just another Milky Way inside. It is incredible. Go and look.

However, watch out: you cannot turn this into a theorem of philosophy.

3. J. R. Kerr - September 30, 2007

Okay, so let’s say it’s something, but then you’ll have to admit that in practical terms it means nothing at least for the rest of us who aren’t in that racket. Suppose there’s some truth in what you say and matter is nothing, so what the hell am I to make of it at the office where I work as an accountant? Jeee, now you tell me, there’s no answer to that.

4. cantueso - October 3, 2007

To J. R. Kerr:

I think you are right, in practical terms it does not mean anything. Everyday life can go on without that theory, but not industry, not that technology that modern life depends on at least in the West.

5. David - February 3, 2008

This is a fascinating debate. That the matter of our world is mostly empty space is often interpreted as nothingness, but it is not nothingness at all. It is dimensioned space. Apparently 10 dimensional space. Yikes. No wonder the quantum fluctuations are so bubbly, what with whole universes blinking in and out of existence.

6. David - September 22, 2008

I wish to recant my previous statement about whole universes blinking in and out of existence. Apparently I had something in my eye.

Now that the black hole generator at CERN is down for a couple of months, I think we can all count our blessings and thank God for the 3 dimensions that we know and love.

♥ ♥ ♥

7. A.S.Chartwell - September 24, 2008

Yes, we all hate that thing, and I keep forgetting its name, which is truly Freudian …. I have seen people out there (now always referred to as “folks” because of the elections) which folks thought that CERN stood for Christian something-or-other to give you an idea. And do you know how much it cost?…….. And do you know what it is for? Soon you will read that it may also be of great use in the fight against some types of cholera or heart disease.

8. cantueso - September 25, 2008

I had gone to Google to see what the blink was, and it did not say it was in your eye. It said it was New Age. I would dislike the concept as a catchy metaphor.

9. enghtj55 - September 25, 2008

It would be a real story if part of the continent or whatever were to blow up because of some little oversight in its design.That experiment was much too expensive and since it lacks all popular support and funding, the question is who finances it.

10. David - September 29, 2008

I was more alluding to that ineffable Heisenberg stuff called “quantum fluctuation” where, theoretically, these are the boundaries which lay between something and nothing.

Catchy metaphor and buzzword indeed. New Age. Oh help me please. When Nothing belches, Something is created. How’s that?

11. cantueso - September 29, 2008

I think that reality is all made of words. As soon as words are correctly strung up, a crocodile or anything else comes alive.

How does the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale?
How cheerfully he seems to grin ……

12. kwangler - July 23, 2011

How do you make those hearts?

13. cantueso - July 24, 2011

I saw them in message #6 and took their code which is
& hearts ;
but written without spaces. I added the spaces because otherwise, instead of the code, you’d simply see yet another heart.

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