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Thread: Is there such a thing as nothing?

  1. #1
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    Is there such a thing as nothing?

    Sounds weird, but hang in there. Could there be places in our Universe where there is absolutely nothing*, no matter, no energy, nothing. I'm no scientist so I don't know if we already know about such places if they do exist.



    *We don't need to consider things we don't know about YET. That would be another thread.

  2. #2
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    Not really if there is an empty space something will move in, the density will be low like a few particles per square cm.
    (really tempting to make political joke here>)
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    Quote Originally Posted by astrotimer View Post
    Not really if there is an empty space something will move in, the density will be low like a few particles per square cm.
    (really tempting to make political joke here>)
    What about between those particles?

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    Nature abhors a vacuum. Until you get really, really small, I guess.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    You have to consider that as a philosophical question. If a defined nothing is bounded by a something then it's a defined space. If you consider nothing as non existence then you can say nothing about it. Because non existence can only be discussed in terms of existence. But you can define a limited state like calling it no thing, where again you define the set of all things. But what about the set of non things? Is that part of everything?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Could there be places in our Universe
    It would seem to me (;-) that any place within our Universe would have at least a few rouge photos passing through it at any one time no matter how remote it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    You have to consider that as a philosophical question. If a defined nothing is bounded by a something then it's a defined space. If you consider nothing as non existence then you can say nothing about it. Because non existence can only be discussed in terms of existence. But you can define a limited state like calling it no thing, where again you define the set of all things. But what about the set of non things? Is that part of everything?
    I don't do philosophy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    It would seem to me (;-) that any place within our Universe would have at least a few rouge photos passing through it at any one time no matter how remote it is.
    Rogue photons?

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    I'm aware that we have matter in the universe. And we have lots of EM radiation as well. But are there places where we have neither? Is there a law against that or something? I'm genuinely interested in the answer here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    I don't do philosophy.
    Well you asked the question! You are at least a trainee philosopher. Asking tricky questions is a fair way to start.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    Rogue photons?
    Nono. Rouge photos.



    But seriously.

    To have no photons would mean it would register as a temp of absolute zero. There would be zero photons passing through it.


    Even hard vacuum is not nothing. It has a host of properties, over and above what particles it might contain.

    To talk about a space with nothing in it, you would have to posit why it does not have plain ol' vacuum in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Nono. Rouge photos.


    But seriously. Hard vacuum is not nothing. It has a host of properties, over and above what particles it might contain.

    To talk about a space with nothing in it, you would have to posit why it does not have plain ol' vacuum in it.
    'splain all dat?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    'splain all dat?
    "According to quantum mechanics, the vacuum state is not truly empty but instead contains fleeting electromagnetic waves and particles that detonate into and out of existence. Also, in conventional quantum physics, the origin of zero-point energy is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. How we can describe quantum vacuum without using the uncertainty principle?"
    https://www.researchgate.net/post/Wh...ties_of_vacuum

    i.e. even in an empty vacuum, virtual particles will be spontaneously created and destroyed.

    "According to modern understanding, even if all matter could be removed from a volume, it would still not be "empty" due to vacuum fluctuations, dark energy, transiting gamma rays, cosmic rays, neutrinos, and other phenomena in quantum physics. "
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum

    And it has its own properties: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_permittivity
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2017-Oct-12 at 08:03 PM.

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    Thanks. I'll ruminate on that, and probably confuse myself further in the process.

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    Oops My bad on spelling. By "rogue photon" I meant that if you are still in the same universe, that is "Our Universe" as you stated in the question, then just like the Hubble taking a several days long time exposure pic of "nothingness" in space where eventually enough photons are collected to show images of the early universe then time will tell. So for my (our?) present understanding of this universe there are at the very least photons passes through everywhere if we wait long enough to "see" them, even a rogue photon. ...sorry for the mis-spellings, and any predictable flaws in my thoughts.

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    Since every particle has only a probability of being at any given location which could be anywhere, for any given volume of space each particle that exists has a less than 100% of being in it so there's a small chance that none of them are there, right? So maybe there's somewhere with nothing in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    Oops My bad on spelling. By "rogue photon" I meant that if you are still in the same universe, that is "Our Universe" as you stated in the question, then just like the Hubble taking a several days long time exposure pic of "nothingness" in space where eventually enough photons are collected to show images of the early universe then time will tell. So for my (our?) present understanding of this universe there are at the very least photons passes through everywhere if we wait long enough to "see" them, even a rogue photon. ...sorry for the mis-spellings, and any predictable flaws in my thoughts.
    Just funning, my man. I've made horrific mistakes in official documents, a good reason to have a competent yeoman to back me up.

    It's still an intriguing idea, "there is no nothing".

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    So, no matter where you go, at the very least the cosmic microwave background has a density of about 500 photons per cubic centimeter. That should be everywhere. There's no law against there being someplace with nothing in it, but it won't occur naturally. You could build a sealed chamber in intergalactic space, shield it from microwaves and other radiation, cool it down to as close to absolute zero as you can get it (to reduce thermal radiation), and remove the few particles that are there (in the voids between galaxy clusters, there's about one proton per 50 cubic meters or so). That would be about as close as you could get to a region with nothing at all in it. There would presumably still be some dark matter and if the vacuum has an energy density, that will still be there, too.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    So, no matter where you go, at the very least the cosmic microwave background has a density of about 500 photons per cubic centimeter. That should be everywhere. There's no law against there being someplace with nothing in it, but it won't occur naturally. You could build a sealed chamber in intergalactic space, shield it from microwaves and other radiation, cool it down to as close to absolute zero as you can get it (to reduce thermal radiation), and remove the few particles that are there (in the voids between galaxy clusters, there's about one proton per 50 cubic meters or so). That would be about as close as you could get to a region with nothing at all in it. There would presumably still be some dark matter and if the vacuum has an energy density, that will still be there, too.
    Awesome DIY project.

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    Yes.

    It's the current status of my workload.

    Which also means "nothing" money.
    Dip me in ink and toss me to the Poets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Since every particle has only a probability of being at any given location which could be anywhere, for any given volume of space each particle that exists has a less than 100% of being in it so there's a small chance that none of them are there, right? So maybe there's somewhere with nothing in it.
    You do realize this is a restatement of an Abbott and Costello routine?
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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    Hallo folks - enjoying the thread and as usual due to my lack of science education not understanding much of it.

    If I understand it aright, the Chief is asking if there is a place in the Universe where there is actually nothing - not one particle of matter, not one wave of energy.
    Pardon my ignorance, I always try to learn whenever possible, but isn't this a restatement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? I understand the law only a little; just enough to explain to my girlfriend what has happened to my apartment over the last 3 weeks.
    It just seems to me that if there IS an area of total nothingness (low entropy) it will quickly be filled in observance of the 2nd Law (higher entropy). (Scritching my noggin...) I think that's right...
    Is it?

    Thanks, friends
    Last edited by NorthernDevo; 2017-Oct-13 at 11:59 PM.
    "The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there's no difference."

    "Aikido: the art of hitting people with planets."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    You do realize this is a restatement of an Abbott and Costello routine?
    "Who's on nothing"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernDevo View Post
    Hallo folks - enjoying the thread and as usual due to my lack of science education not understanding much of it.

    If I understand it aright, the Chief is asking if there is a place in the Universe where there is actually nothing - not one particle of matter, not one wave of energy.
    Pardon my ignorance, I always try to learn whenever possible, but isn't this a restatement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? I understand the law only a little; just enough to explain to my girlfriend what has happened to my apartment over the last 3 weeks.
    It just seems to me that if there IS an area of total nothingness (low entropy) it will quickly be filled in observance of the 2nd Law (higher entropy). (Scritching my noggin...) I think that's right...
    Is it?

    Thanks, friends
    The 2nd what?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    The 2nd what?
    Basically states that disorder increases and never decreases over time. An empty spot would have a low entropy or very little disorder but as soon as the spot is created something will enter that spot and increase the disorder.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.
    You cannot run away from the truth, the world is not big enough. DI Jack Frost
    Don't Panic THGTTG
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. Einstein
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    The 2nd what?
    It's a thing that scientists use to describe the thing that does the...thing? There's a lot of cool stuff in there; most of which I don't get. There are LETTERS in the equations; and exponents. I hate exponents. I've never managed to figure out how the alphabet got into math either.

    But those 'in the know' seem to have some clue about what's going on. I like to humour them.
    "The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there's no difference."

    "Aikido: the art of hitting people with planets."

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    I have two bachelors, Psych. and Soc., and a Masters in History. Can you tell which one(s) required much math?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    I have two bachelors, Psych. and Soc., and a Masters in History. Can you tell which one(s) required much math?
    Hell, no - except to point out that since I can't even do fractions accurately ANY math is impressive as hell.

    I was just curious to see if the popular science I've picked up matched actual science. I apologize if I offended.
    "The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there's no difference."

    "Aikido: the art of hitting people with planets."

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernDevo View Post
    Hell, no - except to point out that since I can't even do fractions accurately ANY math is impressive as hell.

    I was just curious to see if the popular science I've picked up matched actual science. I apologize if I offended.
    No offense taken, just pointing out that I've resigned myself to never being able to change the batteries in a slide rule. (And yes, I watched that Youtube, didn't help.)

  30. #30
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    True "nothing" in the absolute sense is nonsensical. Lawrence Krauss likes to talk about the universe coming from nothing but his nothing still includes the laws of physics, it's not a true "nothing". Hawking also likes to tout that the universe could arise from nothing but again, his nothing still contains the laws of physics.

    If there was an infinite amount of nothing sitting on my desk how would I know? I can't see it, smell it, touch it or interact with it in any way. I can't even say it occupies space since it has no dimensions. Dimensions are something.

    To say there was once a time when there was nothing is nonsensical because if there was time then there was something. Time is a thing and it is closely linked with space.

    "Nothing" can't exist because existence is a thing.

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