Can we lay nothing to rest?

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Offline Bill S

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Can we lay nothing to rest?
« on: 18/11/2014 23:12:53 »
Sorry; I couldn't resist the initial question.  It's really infinity I'm after, but discussions about nothing tend to be linked.

Infinity finds its way into many threads, causes a distraction, then fades away, usually, with no semblance of resolution.  Questions about infinity are often linked to questions about time and about nothing.

I propose asking a few questions, in the form of a poll, which may help to ameliorate the situation.  Each question requires only a yes/no answer, but hopefully these would be accompanied by some thoughts.   

1.  Is infinity a number?

2.  Is eternity a length of time?

3.  Is it possible to define Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?

4.  If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   

5.  Could there be change without time?

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #1 on: 18/11/2014 23:38:49 »
1. No

2. no

3. read Cantor

4. there obviously is something now, so the question is meaningless

5. there would certainly be no notion of time without change
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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Offline jeffreyH

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #2 on: 18/11/2014 23:56:03 »
Alan's number 5 hits the nails on the head. Change never stops. We assume heat death will mean no change. What if there is no heat death of the universe? What if it is just not possible? I agree with Alan's 1 and 2. Cantor I have no knowledge of. I don't believe there was ever nothing.

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #3 on: 19/11/2014 00:33:08 »
Q1.  Is infinity a number?

A1. No.

Q2.  Is eternity a length of time?

A2. No.

Q3. Is it possible to define Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?

A3. No.

Q4. If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   

A4. Yes

Q5. Could there be change without time?

A5. No.
« Last Edit: 19/11/2014 00:35:39 by PmbPhy »

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #4 on: 19/11/2014 09:24:53 »
As for 3.

It's a very important question, and quantum mechanics defining a Planck scale seems very related to it, to me that is. Also the idea of many paths co-existing, as well as its opposite, the idea of a infinite, or at least undefined, amount of 'universes' branching at any observed outcome, only one apparent 'per observer'. They all go back to that question, and most interesting is the one about what happens under or close to that Planck scale.

5. change is 'time'', can't get one without the other. Causality is something added to that idea, giving us a commonly agreed on universe.

4. I don't know, wish I did. But, it depends on how you define it too, take 'Cantor's infinity' as a example. Or any of the other ideas above, what is the state of 'the instant' before a outcome? Does it belong to a arrow, or is it separated from it?

1. is meaningless, to me that is, and it's taken me some time to decide on that one. Alternatively, use any of the arguments above to define a 'infinity'.

2. Eternity? As ill defined as 'infinity' to me, doesn't tell me a thing. The 'instant in between' before that outcome, is that existing a 'eternity'?
=

don't get stuck on the arrows linearity for 2. Just assume opposites, a arrow, as contrasted to what is not a arrow. If you think of it from a arrow, then 'splitting eternity' from that, you just defined the arrow as the primary reason. That's not correct, both are as important and can be seen as a symmetry possibly, balancing out into a universe. Well, maybe :)

Or think of in terms of 'observer dependencies', giving both a equal 'local' importance. Then you will get both your 'infinity', as well as 'eternity' on one side, the arrow on the other. But they are meaningless to me anyway. I can't comprehend what they should mean from that side, only from 'inside' a universe.
« Last Edit: 19/11/2014 09:50:21 by yor_on »
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #5 on: 20/11/2014 12:52:27 »
Thanks for the responses, hopefully there will be more to come.  As soon as I have a few spare minutes I will come back to the thread.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #6 on: 20/11/2014 17:31:14 »
4. There can't 'be' nothing, and it can't exist. 'Nothing' is an abstract concept of negation. Colloquial language makes it appear otherwise (e.g. "there's nothing in the box"), but generally refers to absence of certain types of stuff. A box that really had nothing inside wouldn't really be a box, because its sides would be touching each other.

To make a Hackenthorpe Vacuum: Take a bottle containing an ordinary vacuum, and suck all the vacuum out...

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #7 on: 20/11/2014 21:51:21 »
As always, wish I was perfectly sober here. Dlorde, you just make a perfectly consistent defense for a container.
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #8 on: 20/11/2014 22:34:54 »
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3. read Cantor
Alan, I accept full responsibility for the unhelpful nature of this response.  My mistake was trying to make this question amenable to a yes/no answer.  As a non-mathematician I have struggled with much of Cantor’s work, but I think I have grasped the basics; particularly, I think I have a fair understanding of his thoughts on “absolute” infinity.  What I was really looking for was the thoughts of other posters about this. 

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4. there obviously is something now, so the question is meaningless
“there obviously is something now,”  No question about that.
“so the question is meaningless”  I don’t accept that the question is meaningless.  Perhaps I need to rephrase it.
Given that there is something now, can there ever have been nothing?

There would seem to be three possible answers to this:  1. Yes   2. No and 3. Don’t know.  Any one of these would benefit from a bit embellishment.

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5. there would certainly be no notion of time without change
I would not argue with that, but it’s a “sociologist’s” response: it’s an answer, but not to the question that was asked.
Could there be change without time?

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #9 on: 21/11/2014 00:10:30 »
nope. no change no time. You measure it.
(and as always, locally)
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #10 on: 21/11/2014 13:48:58 »
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Alan's number 5 hits the nails on the head.
Jeffrey, I agree; shame it was not quite the right nail.  Can we go back to “Could there be change without time?”
I too have grave doubts about heat death.  I think it has to do with something Heisenberg said.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #11 on: 21/11/2014 16:59:36 »
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A3. No.

Pete, I appreciate clear, concise answers like this, but I would be interested to know why you say “no”.

Quote
A4. Yes

How could that be?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #12 on: 21/11/2014 18:31:24 »
Yor_on, as so often happens with your posts, I read this one and thought: I’m sure he’s saying something significant here, I’m just not certain I know what it is.  I’m going to have to read it again and give it some thought.

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Offline chiralSPO

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #13 on: 21/11/2014 19:06:55 »
Regarding time and change:

We can think of a more generalized change as the partial derivative of some characteristic of the universe (or any system) with respect to some parameter. ∂something/∂time is one of the most common meaning of change, but we could chose many other parameters, such as position, temperature, pressure, composition etc. We could discuss the fundamentality of these parameters, but then again, how fundamental is time?

Can there be time without change? Sure, even if ∂something/∂time = 0, that doesn't mean that there is no time, it's just not relevant to that "something". For instance, think of all the parameters that are conserved in Newtonian physics and thermodynamics--as far as the total momentum of the universe is concerned, time is meaningless.

Causality gives time its directionality, and entropy is the proof.
« Last Edit: 21/11/2014 19:10:14 by chiralSPO »

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #14 on: 21/11/2014 20:55:55 »
Dlorde; “Though shalt not with semantics round enmesh me……..”  With apologies to Omar Khayyam.
“There can't 'be' nothing, and it can't exist………… A box that really had nothing inside…..” No comment.

Go on! Answer the questions, in spite of yourself.   [:)]

Seriously; I would value your answers.

BTW, I agree, in general, with your definition of nothing, and would like to say more about it, but at this point it would introduce thread drift, so I will come back to it later.  Prod me if I forget. 

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #15 on: 21/11/2014 22:59:26 »
Go on! Answer the questions, in spite of yourself.   [:)]
OK, here's my take:

Q1.  Is infinity a number?

A1. No.

Q2.  Is eternity a length of time?

A2. No.

Q3. Is it possible to define Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?

A3. Not as far as I know. He's supposed to have identified it with God, but I don't know how he defined 'God', and we can't ask him because he's dead. However, it's possible he did define God and left a record somewhere.

Q4. If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   

A4. Invalid/meaningless question. There can't 'be' nothing. Redefine 'nothing' as 'empty' (zero energy) spacetime for this question, and I'd say 'yes' (e.g., I'm told that the energy of matter & radiation, etc., is balanced by the 'negative' energy of gravity, resulting in an overall zero energy for our universe).

Q5. Could there be change without time?

A5. No. Change either requires or defines time.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #16 on: 22/11/2014 03:06:34 »
Quote from: dlorde
There can't 'be' nothing. Redefine 'nothing' as 'empty' (zero energy) spacetime

Perhaps I should reword the question:

If there had ever been a complete absence of anything, definable or otherwise by us, could there be anything now?

I would certainly not choose to redefine 'nothing' as 'empty' (zero energy) spacetime.  I suspect you would point out that spacetime is something.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #17 on: 22/11/2014 13:15:48 »
Perhaps I should reword the question:

If there had ever been a complete absence of anything, definable or otherwise by us, could there be anything now?
Same answer as before - it's a meaningless question. There can't 'be' a complete absence of anything - time itself is meaningless without spacetime.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #18 on: 22/11/2014 15:47:42 »
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There can't 'be' a complete absence of anything

OK, Dlorde, over to you.  If absolutely everything ceased to exist, what term would you use to describe that.  This is a thought experiment, so don't point out either that that couldn't happen, or that if it did you wouldn't be around to describe it.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #19 on: 22/11/2014 16:15:01 »
If absolutely everything ceased to exist, what term would you use to describe that.
Meaningless. How would you describe it?

If an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens? Just a thought experiment, so don't point out that it couldn't happen  [;)]
« Last Edit: 22/11/2014 16:20:36 by dlorde »

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #20 on: 22/11/2014 16:23:02 »
Quote from: Bill S
1.  Is infinity a number?
No. It's not a number. It's a concept/idea.

Quote from: Bill S
2.  Is eternity a length of time?
No. Just like eternity it's a concept. Think of it as infinite amount of time.

Quote from: Bill S
3.  Is it possible to define Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?
I don't know what that is so I can't say.

Quote from: Bill S
4.  If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
Yes.

Quote from: Bill S
5.  Could there be change without time?
No, because can is defined as change.

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Offline jeffreyH

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #21 on: 22/11/2014 16:48:50 »
We have matter, lots of it. If it ceases to exist where does it go? It can't become nothing because then it would be included in the nothingness. Therefore absolute nothingness cannot exist.

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #22 on: 22/11/2014 17:24:00 »
We have matter, lots of it. If it ceases to exist where does it go? It can't become nothing because then it would be included in the nothingness. Therefore absolute nothingness cannot exist.
Agreed, and this is the very reason I disagree with the notion that nothingness lies outside our observable universe. And if nothingness does not exist beyond our present universe, the cosmos is infinite.
"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #23 on: 22/11/2014 18:38:53 »
... if nothingness does not exist beyond our present universe, the cosmos is infinite.
I don't think this is necessarily the case; the universe may be finite and closed and still be all there is.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #24 on: 22/11/2014 19:46:28 »
Dlorde, I admire your evasive subtlety.  Let's consider a more mundane example.  You and I look into a room which we agree is devoid of human occupants.  I say: "There's no one in that room."  You say: "There cannot be no one in that room, because "no one" is a negation, so it cannot "be".  Is that not tantamount to your saying that there must be someone in that room?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #25 on: 22/11/2014 19:54:49 »
Thanks Pete.

Quote from: Pete
 
Quote from: Bill S
If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
  Yes

You have still not told me how something can emerge from nothing.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #26 on: 22/11/2014 19:58:48 »
Quote from: dlorde
...the universe may be finite and closed and still be all there is.

Agreed, but what is beyond the outer boundary of the finite universe?

Let me guess; the question is meaningless.   [8D]

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #27 on: 22/11/2014 20:09:35 »
Alan, there are still a couple of unresolved points lingering in #8; I hope you will return to give us at least one more injection of down-to-earth scientific opinion before this thread meanders off into the bog of eternal nothingness.

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Offline jeffreyH

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #28 on: 22/11/2014 20:15:18 »
Alan, there are still a couple of unresolved points lingering in #8; I hope you will return to give us at least one more injection of down-to-earth scientific opinion before this thread meanders off into the bog of eternal nothingness.

The bog cannot be eternal as nothingness has nothing to do with time. Nothing would change so time would not exist. How do you measure a period of nothingness and what parameters do you use?

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #29 on: 22/11/2014 23:21:39 »
Thanks Pete.

Quote from: Pete
 
Quote from: Bill S
If there had ever been (absolutely) nothing, could there be something now?   
  Yes

You have still not told me how something can emerge from nothing.
That's because I don't know how it could happen. I only know that it can happen by which I mean that there's nothing in the laws of physics so far that prevents it. That may change in the future.

The laws of physics only tell us what can happen, not why. For example, when two elementary particles collide there may result many different things. Sometimes it's only the energy and momentum of each particle that changes, the sum being constant, i.e. unchanged. If I knew whether particles A and B could change into particles C and D it doesn't imply that we could tell you why it happened. It could be that someday we'll why but today we can't. As Feynman once said regarding particle physics "If anything can happen it will happen. It's possible that it's similar here.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #30 on: 22/11/2014 23:36:21 »
Dlorde, I admire your evasive subtlety.
I'm not trying to be evasive, I'm giving the opinion that you asked for.

Quote
Let's consider a more mundane example.  You and I look into a room which we agree is devoid of human occupants.  I say: "There's no one in that room."  You say: "There cannot be no one in that room, because "no one" is a negation, so it cannot "be".  Is that not tantamount to your saying that there must be someone in that room?
No. I already mentioned the colloquial use of 'nothing' as referring to the absence of certain types of stuff. Using 'no-one' is quite reasonable. It says that in a certain context there are no objects of a certain type. If you think about it, it's a relative statement.

To talk of 'nothing at all' is meaningless because there's no context and no relativity. There's literally nothing to say about it. It doesn't and can't exist because it is the negation of all existence.

I had hoped my example of a 'box' containing 'absolutely nothing' (that isn't really a box because sides must touch each other) would enable you to visualise  the meaninglessness of the idea in physical terms.
« Last Edit: 22/11/2014 23:40:36 by dlorde »

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #31 on: 22/11/2014 23:39:10 »
Agreed, but what is beyond the outer boundary of the finite universe?
There would be no boundary. We've been through all this before. Finite and unbounded, like the surface of a sphere, but in 4 dimensions. There would be no 'outside'.

Quote
Let me guess; the question is meaningless.   [8D]
The premise is mistaken.
« Last Edit: 22/11/2014 23:41:53 by dlorde »

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #32 on: 23/11/2014 14:03:42 »
Quote from: JH
The bog cannot be eternal as nothingness has nothing to do with time. Nothing would change so time would not exist.

Thanks Jeffrey!  This is precisely the point I have been trying to make (one of them, anyway).  Eternity/infinity has nothing to do with time, so there can be no change in eternity/infinity. 

Do google “Bog of Eternal Stench” if you have and lingering doubts on the subject of eternal bogs.  [;D]

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How do you measure a period of nothingness and what parameters do you use?

You don’t.  Nothingness is a concept that is no more measurable than an “infinite” sequence.  If either “exists”, it exists in infinity and is therefore not accessible to our measurement.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #33 on: 23/11/2014 14:51:56 »
Alan, there are still a couple of unresolved points lingering in #8; I hope you will return to give us at least one more injection of down-to-earth scientific opinion before this thread meanders off into the bog of eternal nothingness.

Sitting here in my grease-stained overalls and muddy boots (it's the weekend - theatre scrubs and radioactive dust suits are for work days) here's the answer to

Quote
How do you measure a period of nothingness and what parameters do you use?

It's the smallest vector between two somethings.
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #34 on: 23/11/2014 16:18:06 »
Quote
How do you measure a period of nothingness and what parameters do you use?

It's the smallest vector between two somethings.
[8D] Yes indeed. It's meaningless without the context of things (thingness?).

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #35 on: 23/11/2014 17:25:35 »
Quote from: Pete
That's because I don't know how it could happen. I only know that it can happen by which I mean that there's nothing in the laws of physics so far that prevents it. That may change in the future.

Could it not be said that the laws of physics militate against there ever being “nothing”?

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The laws of physics only tell us what can happen, not why

“How” and “why” are vastly different questions.  When you said “I only know that it can happen” I wondered if you knew of, or theorised, some method that would facilitate it.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #36 on: 23/11/2014 17:34:49 »

Could it not be said that the laws of physics militate against there ever being “nothing”?


It could indeed be said, but like what politicians say, it's just a collection of words with no relationship to the truth. The laws of physics are discovered mathematical approximations to what actually happens. They have no power nor even an enforcing agency.

But if you look at my parameter of nothingness, I think you will find it entirely logical and consistent with the known properties of everything.   
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #37 on: 23/11/2014 17:36:20 »
Quote from: dlorde
No. I already mentioned the colloquial use of 'nothing' as referring to the absence of certain types of stuff. Using 'no-one' is quite reasonable. It says that in a certain context there are no objects of a certain type. If you think about it, it's a relative statement.

Surely you are not saying that turning “nothing” into “no-thing” would make a significant difference to the meaning.

Quote
To talk of 'nothing at all' is meaningless because there's no context and no relativity. There's literally nothing to say about it. It doesn't and can't exist because it is the negation of all existence.

There can never have been a complete absence of any-thing?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #38 on: 23/11/2014 17:48:53 »
Quote from: Alan
Quote from: Bill
Could it not be said that the laws of physics militate against there ever being “nothing”?
It could indeed be said, but like what politicians say, it's just a collection of words with no relationship to the truth. The laws of physics are discovered mathematical approximations to what actually happens. They have no power nor even an enforcing agency.

Considering how often, in threads of this nature, the laws of physics are cited as something akin to “the Word of God”, that’s a consoling quote to have to hand.

Quote
But if you look at my parameter of nothingness, I think you will find it entirely logical and consistent with the known properties of everything.
   

Quote
It's the smallest vector between two somethings.

In order to avoid being “something”, would it not have to be infinitely small?

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #39 on: 23/11/2014 22:44:18 »
Surely you are not saying that turning “nothing” into “no-thing” would make a significant difference to the meaning.
That's right, I'm not saying that.

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There can never have been a complete absence of any-thing?
If by 'absence of any-thing' you mean the 'absolutely nothing' we've been talking about, that's correct. I refer you to my several previous answers.

No offence, but I'm not sure whether you're being deliberately obtuse, or you're unwilling or unable to articulate the point you want to make. Repeatedly asking the same question in different ways doesn't seem very productive. What's on your mind? Can you not just describe what you find unsatisfactory about the answers given?

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #40 on: 23/11/2014 23:11:47 »
Quote from: dlorde
No offence, but I'm not sure whether you're being deliberately obtuse, or you're unwilling or unable to articulate the point you want to make.

Earlier this evening when I was tending to the "calls of domestic duty" I was thinking that I would have apologise for appearing obtuse and repetitive.  You, and others, are probably well aware that I have been involved in discussions about infinity with various people in different threads and forums for quite some time.  I have found, from experience, that it pays to be absolutely sure what other people are saying before drawing conclusions. 

If that makes little sense, blame the single malt.   [:D]

I'll come back to it tomorrow when I can think clearly.   

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #41 on: 23/11/2014 23:53:53 »

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It's the smallest vector between two somethings.

In order to avoid being “something”, would it not have to be infinitely small?


Depends how far apart the somethings are. The definition holds for all values of any dimension.
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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #42 on: 24/11/2014 23:43:11 »
Quote from: Alan
Depends how far apart the somethings are. The definition holds for all values of any dimension.

You’ve lost me there, Alan.  Could you give me an example in which (say) the somethings are 1m apart?

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #43 on: 25/11/2014 00:59:20 »
Okay, way out in deep space there are two hydrogen atoms a meter apart, with no other entities between them. Then we have a meter of nothing in at least one dimension, and quite possibly a lot more nothing elsewhere.

You might argue that photons and particles of stuff are passing through the gap in any observable part of the universe, but these transits are momentary, interspersed by periods of nothing. Which is just as well, since if there were something, the particles wouldn't be able to transit without interacting.

Which leads me to a whole new train of thought. I have just defined absolute nothing, but there is probably an infinity of relative nothings, defined as the absence of anything significant betwen two points. This is for instance a pleasant aspect of aviation, when I request a zone transit, say of a military range, on a specific course, and get "nothing known to affect": i.e. plenty of air, but no chunks of metal about to intersect my intended vector.

 
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Offline dlorde

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #44 on: 25/11/2014 14:04:42 »
Okay, way out in deep space there are two hydrogen atoms a meter apart, with no other entities between them. Then we have a meter of nothing in at least one dimension, and quite possibly a lot more nothing elsewhere.

You might argue that photons and particles of stuff are passing through the gap in any observable part of the universe, but these transits are momentary, interspersed by periods of nothing. Which is just as well, since if there were something, the particles wouldn't be able to transit without interacting.
As I understand it, quantum field theory says that the gap contains continuous fields, all of overall zero energy, except the Higgs field. If this isn't enough 'something', the zero-energy fields are only zero on average - uncertainty means that they oscillate, continually generating excitations, virtual pairs of particles that quickly annihilate. However one interprets these quantum oscillations, they too are something rather than nothing. I suspect it could be said that spacetime is these oscillating fields.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #45 on: 25/11/2014 20:36:16 »
Quote from: Alan
Which leads me to a whole new train of thought. I have just defined absolute nothing, but there is probably an infinity of relative nothings, defined as the absence of anything significant betwen two points

Thanks for the explanation, Alan.  Dlorde is ahead of me with the sort of questions I would want to ask, so I'll sit back for a while to see what happens.   

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #46 on: 26/11/2014 01:40:20 »
Yor_on, I’ve been giving some consideration to your post #4 and I have some questions.

 
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Also the idea of many paths co-existing, as well as its opposite, the idea of a infinite

In what way do you consider the “many paths” to be the opposite of infinity?

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1. is meaningless, to me that is,

Is it meaningless because you need a definition of infinity before you can decide if it is a number, or not?

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2. Eternity? As ill defined as 'infinity' to me, doesn't tell me a thing. The 'instant in between' before that outcome, is that existing a 'eternity'?

Can you be equating an instant with eternity?  I’ve been down that road myself, I would be interested to know where it leads you.

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Then you will get both your 'infinity', as well as 'eternity' on one side, the arrow on the other.

I always have infinity and eternity on the same side; definitely no arrow (of time) associated with either.  How could it be any other way?

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #47 on: 26/11/2014 02:01:26 »
Quote from: Alan
Which leads me to a whole new train of thought. I have just defined absolute nothing, but there is probably an infinity of relative nothings, defined as the absence of anything significant betwen two points

Thanks for the explanation, Alan.  Dlorde is ahead of me with the sort of questions I would want to ask, so I'll sit back for a while to see what happens.
It's stuff like this that made me tired of conversations about infinity. The concept is simply to someone who's taken their first year of calculus or taken a real analysis course.

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Offline Bill S

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #48 on: 26/11/2014 14:13:12 »
Quote from: Pete
It's stuff like this that made me tired of conversations about infinity. The concept is simply to someone who's taken their first year of calculus or taken a real analysis course.

Perhaps those who find these things simple (I assume you meant simple) should post simple explanations for the benefit of lesser mortals, instead of bald statements that are presumably meant to be taken on faith.

For example, you have still not explained how you believe something can emerge from nothing. 

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Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: Can we lay nothing to rest?
« Reply #49 on: 26/11/2014 14:23:40 »
I'd like to hear about that one too Bill.

Okay, way out in deep space there are two hydrogen atoms a meter apart, with no other entities between them. Then we have a meter of nothing in at least one dimension, and quite possibly a lot more nothing elsewhere. You might argue that photons and particles of stuff are passing through the gap in any observable part of the universe, but these transits are momentary, interspersed by periods of nothing. Which is just as well, since if there were something, the particles wouldn't be able to transit without interacting.
Cough. Space isn't nothing. When a seismic wave moves through the ground, the ground waves. When an ocean wave moves through the sea, the sea waves. When a gravitational wave or an electromagnetic wave moves through space, space waves. And then you can perform pair production and make matter out of one of these waves. Don't think of matter as something and space as nothing, because matter and space aren't all that different. Have a read of Does Matter Differ from Vacuum? by Christoph Schiller.   



Which leads me to a whole new train of thought. I have just defined absolute nothing, but there is probably an infinity of relative nothings, defined as the absence of anything significant betwen two points. This is for instance a pleasant aspect of aviation, when I request a zone transit, say of a military range, on a specific course, and get "nothing known to affect": i.e. plenty of air, but no chunks of metal about to intersect my intended vector.
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