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Author Topic: How does a scientist define nothing?  (Read 6269 times)

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #25 on: 25/07/2013 18:00:31 »
Quote from: dlorde
you could equally well say that there is nothing between every atom in that single, solid something; but does that really help?

It would certainly not help unless you defined nothing, which, it seems scientists do not do.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #26 on: 25/07/2013 18:19:58 »
Quote from: Pmb
I'd like to point out that physicists don't make attempts to define things like "nothing." It serves no useful purpose.

An interesting comment, Pete.
Apart, perhaps, from "infinity" what else is "like" nothing?
If defining nothing serves no useful purpose, why is it so commonly used, especially in popular science? 
 

Offline percepts

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #27 on: 26/07/2013 13:04:23 »
Nothing is it's own definition. It means you are wasting your time looking for or trying to define nothing. By definition, nothing is exactly that, nothing.

The problem is you are asking the wrong question based on your probably correct assumption that there is something there but at the same time your incorrect assumption that it's called nothing when it should be called "something else unknown". Just calling the unknown and/or undefined "nothing" has confused you and apparently many others too.
 

Offline JP

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #28 on: 26/07/2013 15:21:28 »
Quote from: Pmb
I'd like to point out that physicists don't make attempts to define things like "nothing." It serves no useful purpose.

An interesting comment, Pete.
Apart, perhaps, from "infinity" what else is "like" nothing?
If defining nothing serves no useful purpose, why is it so commonly used, especially in popular science? 

Scientists worry about defining terms when those terms, precisely defined, yield something useful in terms of physical models or theories.  The problem with the concept of "nothing" as an absolute is that it doesn't help with our theories in any way.  We can talk about the absence of things or the absence of certain properties in a precise way, and that can be useful: for example, a region of space without matter or energy is meaningful and useful, but that is hardly "absolute nothingness."

This is different from the concept of infnity.  Infinity, unlike "nothing" is a useful concept.  We can and do use infinity in our models.  We don't use "nothing" in our models.  (This is setting aside the question the physical meaning of infinity, which we've discussed at length elsewhere.)
 

Offline njskywalker

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #29 on: 26/07/2013 17:48:43 »
Nothing is it's own definition. It means you are wasting your time looking for or trying to define nothing. By definition, nothing is exactly that, nothing.

The problem is you are asking the wrong question based on your probably correct assumption that there is something there but at the same time your incorrect assumption that it's called nothing when it should be called "something else unknown". Just calling the unknown and/or undefined "nothing" has confused you and apparently many others too.


Even nothing is something.
 

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Re: How does a scientist define nothing?
« Reply #29 on: 26/07/2013 17:48:43 »

 

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