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thunderchicken
2005-Feb-25, 12:09 AM
My friend was reciting the phrase "nature abhors a vacuum" the other day, and I got to thinking. Isnít 99.99% of the universe basically a vacuum? With gravity working to attract all matter together into lumps it seems that nature adores the vacuum. Or does that phrase only apply within an atmosphere?

W.F. Tomba
2005-Feb-25, 01:04 AM
Yes, it's an old idea that isn't considered valid anymore (though it did make a good Far Side cartoon). In an atmosphere, gases do tend to expand to fill any vacuum, but that's a property of the gas, not the vacuum or Nature herself.

Maybe this idea came from the time when they thought space was full of ether.

Fortis
2005-Feb-25, 01:21 AM
And the vacuum has changed a lot since then as well. :)

Jpax2003
2005-Feb-25, 04:21 AM
Nature actually has a love-hate relationship with vacuum. We don't know if they are on talking terms or not, still waiting for zero-point energy to find out.

AGN Fuel
2005-Feb-25, 04:44 AM
I once had a flatmate abhored the vacuum. And the washing machine. And as for ironing - forget it! (Actually, he left owing me $40 too - geez, thanks for opening old wounds, guys! :( :wink: )

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-25, 10:58 AM
"Vacuum" (from Latin "empty") can be a misleading word, since the vaccum is not really empty, if we are to believe QM.
As a matter of fact, that old axiom of classical philosophy rings truer than ever, today.

Edited for spelling.

AK
2005-Feb-25, 12:34 PM
"Vaccum" (from Latin "empty") can be a misleading word, since the vaccum is not really empty, if we are to believe QM.

Whether or not we believe QM, it's still misleading, at least as far as space being a perfect vacuum. The density of the interstellar medium near the Earth is about 5 particles per cubic centimeter (and decreases by an inverse square law farther from the Sun but still remains non-zero).

swansont
2005-Feb-25, 12:53 PM
Nature actually has a love-hate relationship with vacuum. We don't know if they are on talking terms or not, still waiting for zero-point energy to find out.

And the vacuums are generally in therapy because of this. Any vacuums with an Oedipal complex, I wonder?

tlbs101
2005-Feb-25, 06:11 PM
No wonder places like the Moon and Mars are so dusty.

sorry, just had to... :lol:

Gillianren
2005-Feb-25, 11:36 PM
I abhor my vacuum. it doesn't suck, which is a bad quality for a vacuum to have.

sidmel
2005-Feb-26, 01:42 AM
I abhor my vacuum. it doesn't suck, which is a bad quality for a vacuum to have.

Drat, beat me to that one. :D

tofu
2005-Feb-26, 01:54 AM
Doesn't the saying, "nature abhors a vacuum" just mean that where there is room to grow, nature will grow into it? As in, if there is an island somewhere, eventually plants and animals will make their home there. The island is a vacuum, an empty space, and nature fills it.

Sam5
2005-Feb-26, 03:04 AM
Doesn't the saying, "nature abhors a vacuum" just mean that where there is room to grow, nature will grow into it? As in, if there is an island somewhere, eventually plants and animals will make their home there. The island is a vacuum, an empty space, and nature fills it.

This saying apparently goes back to ancient Greek times and relates to an early water pump. Create a vacuum in the top of the pump and the water rises up to fill it. Some google sites credit the saying to Aristotle.

Sam5
2005-Feb-26, 03:27 AM
Ok, here’s a Galileo joke I found in an old book:

“In illustration of this I will take as an instance the rise of water in a pump. It was matter of common experience that the suction of the piston was followed by the rise of water in the well. How was it to be accounted for? The Greeks had sense enough to see that a vacuum was created above the water, and having established in their minds a theory that “Nature abhors a vacuum,” they thought this a sufficient reason to explain the occurrence. As nature abhorred a vacuum, she testified her abhorrence by making the water fill it. Now, here there is obviously no physical cause given to account for the physical effect. It is merely an imaginary reason utterly unsupported by any mechanical proof. And yet this theory, that nature abhors a vacuum, was accepted as a sufficient explanation of every phenomenon, of a fluid, whether liquid or aeriform, rushing in to fill empty space, for more than two thousand years. At last, in the middle of the seventeenth century, when some engineers were employed by the Duke of Tuscany to sink a well near Florence of an unusual depth, it was found that the pump would not work. They applied to Galileo, then an old man living at Fiesole, to explain the reason, and he, half in jest and half in earnest, told them that he supposed that nature did not abhor a vacuum above ten metres.”

The Living Age Magazine, March 6, 1875

AstroSmurf
2005-Feb-26, 04:10 PM
Nature doesn't really abhor a vacuum. In fact, it loves it - vacuums are much less pushy than those annoying matter-filled spaces, so the nice molecules all crowd over to the vacuum where there's a bit more quiet... :oops: :wink:

Silent Knight
2005-Feb-26, 08:09 PM
Vacuum (http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/nature-abhors-a-vacuum.html)


This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.

Russ
2005-Feb-26, 09:02 PM
Nature actually has a love-hate relationship with vacuum. We don't know if they are on talking terms or not, still waiting for zero-point energy to find out.

And the vacuums are generally in therapy because of this. Any vacuums with an Oedipal complex, I wonder?

:lol: Hey Tom! How about a cartoon on this subject? I followed the link to your web and am still laughing. You have my kind of "bent" sense of humor. :lol:

Jpax2003
2005-Feb-26, 09:36 PM
Nature actually has a love-hate relationship with vacuum. We don't know if they are on talking terms or not, still waiting for zero-point energy to find out.

And the vacuums are generally in therapy because of this. Any vacuums with an Oedipal complex, I wonder?

:lol: Hey Tom! How about a cartoon on this subject? I followed the link to your web and am still laughing. You have my kind of "bent" sense of humor. :lol:Those cartoons are good. I tried my hand at cartooning in high school after meeting Dick Locher of the Chicago Tribune. He liked some of my work. I've been thinking about getting cartoon artists on a website I want to develop.

BTW, if nature can abhore a vacuum, can nature also abpimp a vacuum?

swansont
2005-Feb-26, 10:17 PM
Nature actually has a love-hate relationship with vacuum. We don't know if they are on talking terms or not, still waiting for zero-point energy to find out.

And the vacuums are generally in therapy because of this. Any vacuums with an Oedipal complex, I wonder?

:lol: Hey Tom! How about a cartoon on this subject? I followed the link to your web and am still laughing. You have my kind of "bent" sense of humor. :lol:

It went on the list of cartoon ideas right after I posted. It may be a little while, though, before I can get around to it.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-28, 03:06 PM
Vacuum (http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/nature-abhors-a-vacuum.html)

MEANING:

* This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.

ORIGIN:
International English
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Is that what they're calling Latin and Greek, these days?

Antonio Michaelangeli
2005-Jul-03, 07:26 PM
My friend was reciting the phrase "nature abhors a vacuum" the other day, and I got to thinking. Isnít 99.99% of the universe basically a vacuum? With gravity working to attract all matter together into lumps it seems that nature adores the vacuum. Or does that phrase only apply within an atmosphere?
FranÁois Rabelais, Pantagruel Book ii. Chapter vii: Questio subtilissima, utrum chimera in vacuo bombinans possit comedere secundas intentiones. ("A most subtle question: whether a chimera buzzing in a vacuum can devour second intentions." -- The English philosophical counterpart is, "If a chimera farts in a vacuum, does it make a noise?")

Jens
2005-Jul-04, 03:18 AM
Actually, though, it's an example of what's called the "pathetic fallacy," the mistaken assumption that nature or inanimate objects have feelings. Saying "abhors" makes it sound like nature has feelings. The principle is certainly true, to an extent, and in the case of space it doesn't always work because gravity counteracts it.

Argos
2005-Jul-04, 02:04 PM
Saying "abhors" makes it sound like nature has feelings. The principle is certainly true, to an extent,

Such figures of language are still used. The Cosmic Censor ("nature abhors a naked singularity") conjecture implies that nature has pudency feelings. :)