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Offline Europan Ocean

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How does a scientist define nothing?
« on: 04/07/2013 09:52:37 »
We have heard the new idea that the universe came from nothing, according to quantum mechanics. I think S Hawking popularized the idea. Does this mean there were no quantum mechanics as well?

How does a scientist define "nothing"?

From my understanding of the dictionary and science, I go from the absence of light and matter, to no dimensions, and no nature, no universe with a nature, or anything at all. No god, or higher power.


 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #1 on: 04/07/2013 13:13:43 »
We have heard the new idea that the universe came from nothing, ..
No we didn't. I believe that you heard wrong. If someone makes a claim about where the universe came from then its speculation only. There is the idea that the universe "tunneled" into existance though.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #2 on: 04/07/2013 20:33:45 »
I am just about to start reading L W Krauss's "a universe from nothing".   This sort of book title probably contributes to what E O is hearing.  however, until I reach the end of the book I choose to make no assumptions about what Krauss might actually be saying. 

 
 

Offline niebieskieucho

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #3 on: 06/07/2013 00:00:54 »
We have heard the new idea that the universe came from nothing, according to quantum mechanics. I think S Hawking popularized the idea. Does this mean there were no quantum mechanics as well?
Nothing comes from nothing. The universe has no time point of its existence in contrast to matter (around 14 billion years).
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How does a scientist define "nothing"?
I don't know how scientists define nothing, but one meaning of nothing I can define as lack of space. Lack of space "starts" where the (finite) universe ends.
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From my understanding of the dictionary and science, I go from the absence of light and matter, to no dimensions, and no nature, no universe with a nature, or anything at all. No god, or higher power.
When we say lack of space, this is tantamount to a lack of anything.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #4 on: 06/07/2013 23:34:48 »
I suspect that one of the reasons we run into difficulties with the concept of nothing is that we cannot really visualise nothing.

  Many popular science books assure us (and rightly so) that we can't visualise a fourth dimension of space, let alone the ten, or more, dimensions required by string theory, because we have no experience upon which to base such a visualisation.  In the same way, I suspect that our life experience prevents us from forming a mental picture of nothing, because we have never experienced it, either first hand, or through someone else’s description of it.  Our nearest experience is of “empty” space, so when we try to visualise nothingness, we use empty space, as a convenient substitute.  If space has ever been a suitable substitute image for nothingness, it certainly isn't now, because, according to quantum theory it is far from empty.  Of course, there may be mystics somewhere who can visualise “nothing”.  Perhaps Fred Alan Wolf could find us a yogi who could do this.  The possibility mustn't be ruled out, but for the vast majority of us the fourth spatial dimension and “nothing”, together with the moment of creation of the Universe, will probably remain concepts we can acknowledge only intellectually, but never actually visualise.
 

Offline percepts

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #5 on: 06/07/2013 23:55:29 »
How does a scientist define nothing?

Konrad Lorenz nailed it when described scientists. He said "Every man gets a narrower and narrower field of knowledge in which he must be an expert in order to compete with other people. The specialist knows more and more about less and less and finally knows everything about nothing"
« Last Edit: 07/07/2013 00:02:02 by percepts »
 

Offline Europan Ocean

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #6 on: 08/07/2013 04:50:20 »
Yes, lack of anything, we are looking for the source, where it all came from, rather than endless links to more and more hypothetical things.

As a boy, I was taught, the big bang came from Hydrogen. Later, a multiple dimension space, 12-14 dimensions. Quantum Mechanics, seems to say something can come from nothing. But why so much?

And where does the nature of Quantum Mechanics come from, or is it self existent?
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #7 on: 08/07/2013 10:05:55 »
I suspect that one of the reasons we run into difficulties with the concept of nothing is that we cannot really visualise nothing.
We can't visualise it because there's literally nothing to visualise. If there's nothing between two points or two planes, they are touching.

It is unfortunate that 'empty' space and nothing are often used as if they are synonymous, but they clearly aren't.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #8 on: 09/07/2013 19:40:06 »
Quote from: dlorde
We can't visualise it because there's literally nothing to visualise. If there's nothing between two points or two planes, they are touching.

Agreed, but can you have two spheres with nothing between them?

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It is unfortunate that 'empty' space and nothing are often used as if they are synonymous, but they clearly aren't.

Agreed, again.  Any thoughts on infinite nothingness?  Is nothing always infinite, or just non-existent?
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #9 on: 10/07/2013 13:35:46 »
Quote from: Europan Ocean
We have heard the new idea that the universe came from nothing, according to quantum mechanics. I think S Hawking popularized the idea. Does this mean there were no quantum mechanics as well?
My guess is that you'd have to ask him, i.e. see what he says about it from his writings.

Quote from: Europan Ocean
How does a scientist define "nothing"?
We don't. My feeling is that it's one of those words that we believe everyone else as a notion of but when pressed for an exact answer they'd be unae to provide you with one.

Quote from: Europan Ocean
From my understanding of the dictionary and science, I go from the absence of light and matter, to no dimensions, and no nature, no universe with a nature, or anything at all. No god, or higher power.
My thinking is that physicists use the term to mean different things, the specific meaning therefore being determined by the context in which its used. If it were up to me I'd start out by defining it as Nothing is the absense of all matter and and time and the space in which matter is otherwise found.

But that's just me. Typically I run definitios up the proverbiall flag pole and see who salutes and then go from there.
 

Offline Europan Ocean

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #10 on: 10/07/2013 14:00:46 »
Thanks for these opinions, responses.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #11 on: 14/07/2013 13:13:12 »
... can you have two spheres with nothing between them?
If they're touching you could say there's nothing between the point of contact on each, but it's an arbitrarily small point.

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Any thoughts on infinite nothingness?  Is nothing always infinite, or just non-existent?
Just non-existent. Infinite nothingness is, presumably, a poetic evocation of infinite 'empty' space.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #12 on: 16/07/2013 02:37:50 »
Quote from: dlorde
If they're touching you could say there's nothing between the point of contact on each, but it's an arbitrarily small point.

So, in order to have two contiguous spheres you have to have "something" between all but the point of contact.  Presumably this would be space, which we cannot define as nothing?
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #13 on: 16/07/2013 23:39:49 »
So, in order to have two contiguous spheres you have to have "something" between all but the point of contact.  Presumably this would be space, which we cannot define as nothing?
That's how I see it. Nothing just isn't there...
 

Offline Europan Ocean

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #14 on: 17/07/2013 05:00:53 »
With nothing, there is no here or there.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #15 on: 17/07/2013 18:52:02 »
Quote from: EO
With nothing, there is no here or there.

The fact that you make that statement indicates that you accept that "nothing" exists, at least as a concept.

We are aware that something exists.  If something and nothing both exist, at least one must have location, relative to the other.  Relativity says this must also apply the other way round, so nothing must be here and/or there relative to something.
 

Offline flr

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #16 on: 17/07/2013 20:07:06 »
 I use to think at "nothing" as a logical negation of all that exists.

 
Quote
Any thoughts on infinite nothingness?  Is nothing always infinite, or just non-existent?

 Note that when we say "infinite" nothingness, we already assign a property to nothingness (that of being infinite) hence  it is no longer "nothing" but something.

 In my opinion Krauss might not have given sufficient thought to the concept of "nothing", or simple parse words.... For example in:
 
he said something about "real nothing" , which in my opinion is laughable at best.

 So his nothing is "real" but that makes it "something" and not "nothing".


 
 

 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #17 on: 19/07/2013 00:17:24 »
The fact that you make that statement indicates that you accept that "nothing" exists, at least as a concept.

We are aware that something exists.  If something and nothing both exist, at least one must have location, relative to the other.  Relativity says this must also apply the other way round, so nothing must be here and/or there relative to something.
Concepts don't have to have a physical location, they're abstracts. You can have a physical instance of something (some thing) but not of nothing.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #18 on: 19/07/2013 02:17:35 »
Quote from: dlorde
Concepts don't have to have a physical location, they're abstracts. You can have a physical instance of something (some thing) but not of nothing.

If you have a single, solid something, and nothing else, then nothing exists outside the something, but not inside it.  Is this not an example of the physical location of both something and nothing?
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #19 on: 20/07/2013 23:38:09 »
If you have a single, solid something, and nothing else, then nothing exists outside the something, but not inside it.  Is this not an example of the physical location of both something and nothing?

If you have a single, solid something, and nothing else, then by definition, that single, solid something is all there is. By saying there is nothing outside it, you are effectively saying it has no outside, it is effectively an entire universe. Nothing has no physical location. OTOH if you really want it to have a physical location then you could equally well say that there is nothing between every atom in that single, solid something; but does that really help?

Unless you want to equate nothing with empty space, which I don't, because it isn't... in my opinion. If people colloquially want to use 'nothing' as shorthand for 'empty space' I don't really object, but if we're going to explicitly distinguish them then lets drop the equivocation. It's not that difficult.
« Last Edit: 20/07/2013 23:46:59 by dlorde »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #20 on: 21/07/2013 03:45:54 »
I'd like to point out that physicists don't make attempts to define things like "nothing." It serves no useful purpose.
 

Offline njskywalker

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #21 on: 22/07/2013 03:53:27 »
Nothing is really super possibility of everything. Space is nothing yet infinitely dense with energy. All matter such as stars radiates into space/ nothing. thus making space a pure sea of energy . Nothing is really everything.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #22 on: 22/07/2013 04:28:19 »
Quote from: njskywalker
Space is nothing yet infinitely dense with energy.
That's quite wrong. Where did you ever get that idea from?

I'll just never understand where some of you folks get these crazy ideas from!
 

Offline Thibeinn

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #23 on: 24/07/2013 17:14:16 »
Nothing may just be something we are unable to perceive with our senses or detect with our instruments.
 
Here is a thought experiment for everyone...
 
Your dog can speak English (or whatever your native language is).  Dogs can hear sounds Humans cannot.  Your dog hears a sound which is beyond the range of Human hearing and asks, "Did you hear that?"  You reply, "I heard nothing."
 
The sound is real to your dog so it is something to him. The sound is not real to you so it is nothing to you.  Therefore, you will decide there was no sound when, in fact, there was a sound.
 
This is true with all the senses.
 
A long time ago, atoms were nothing (we didn't know they existed because we couldn't detect them) but now they are something (we know they exist because we can detect them).
 
The nothing which some state the Universe came from may just be something we cannot perceive or detect as yet. Therefore, we currently believe it is, and call it, nothingness.
 
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #24 on: 25/07/2013 15:59:11 »
A long time ago, atoms were nothing (we didn't know they existed because we couldn't detect them) but now they are something (we know they exist because we can detect them).
The unknown isn't nothing. Atoms existed before we knew of them, they were unknown, not nothing.
 

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #24 on: 25/07/2013 15:59:11 »

 

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