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the existence of nothing Options
sambuca
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 7:38:25 AM
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would anyone like to try to discuss the seemingly contradictary statement that nothing could possibly exist?Eh?
stendec
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 7:46:34 AM

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A real mind-bender that one !

We used to think of "nothing" as the vacuum of space - but of course we now know how full of energy and particles that vacuum really is. Extending this notion further, is it possible to build a "vessel" with a perfect vacuum, and also devoid of any other particles, which is sealed and shielded against all outside things such as cosmic rays? Could this vessel then be said to contain nothing ?

Still further, beyond the "boundary" of the universe, is there nothing? But if there is really "nothing" and the universe is expanding into nothing, then there must be "empty space" of some sort to allow the expansion. Indeed, if there wasn't empty space, then there would by definition be something else, stopping the universe expanding into it. So then again, there would NOT be nothing.

I'll stop there, as I feel a headache coming on d'oh!
jdlaw
Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:04:32 PM

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The idea of whether or not to ascribe any existence to empty space has always been a major hurdle in physics. This arrival of quantum mechanics completely changes our notion of a vacuum. All fields - in particular electromagnetic fields - have fluctuations. In other words at any given moment their actual value varies around a constant, mean value. Even a perfect vacuum at absolute zero has fluctuating fields known as "vacuum fluctuations", the mean energy of which corresponds to half the energy of a photon. Also called the Casimir Force, or Casimir Effect. Thus, there is a difference between “real” empty space and “imaginary” empty space. With all of these break throughs in quantum mechanics, we can now go back to better understand Descartes, because now we know that we can actually ascribe some existence to empty space. Can we still really even say "I think, therefore I am?"

Now from a purely metaphysical standpoint and considering that nothing and empty space really are two very different things, the post on this forum about 2+2 not equaling 4 is still very short and I suggest you go read that one. It touches directly on this concept of programmed reality opening a whole new door to non-classical (neo-classical) logic patterns.
jim
Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 11:20:08 PM

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regarding the possibility that nothing exists...

we know that the universe is not completely empty. descartes said it best, with "i think, therefore i am." however, that doesn't mean that the sum total of everything isn't nothing. two waves can theoretically completely cancel each other if they are perfectly out of phase. yet each has energy and existence. many physicists believe that the universe is a sum-zero entity inasmuch as they theorize that it came from a quantum fluctuation out of nothing. that's just a theory of course.

quantum mechanics also tells us that there is truly nothing in between the points of space separated by the planck length. and truly nothing happens between 2 jiffys (or is it spelled "jiffies"?). in assembly language, there is an instruction called a NOP (no op) which does absolutely nothing (except take up a couple machine cycles worth of time). in von neuman computers, absolutely nothing happens in between clock cycles. although, strictly speaking that isn't true - circuitry is busily cooling down during that time, so there are plenty of electrons bustling about. however, from the standpoint of the program, nothing happens. and don't even get me started on the nothingness of certain celebrities Silenced


so it seems that there are definitely examples of nothingness, both in the so-called real world, as well as in the postulated programmed reality.

fyi, the casimir effect isn't well understood and certainly not quantifiable. i read a recent article in New Scientist "How a quantum effect is gumming up nanomachines", which describes a lot of unexpected casimir effect results. it may be the next key to further understanding reality, however.
sambuca
Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 8:40:13 AM
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all of your comments and thoughts r quite provoking and interesting--i am bound by library computer restrictions as i don't own a computer and now in the summer it is really difficult to get long time intervals as all the computers r full of young people out of school on the computers--doing what--not studies but game playing---anyway yes-descartes said "i think, therefore i am!" but i have always added to it "i think, therefore i am, i think!" this puts a whole new philosophical twist on it---i will get back to respond to everyone on this subject soon as i can get more than the 15 min on this express computer Anxious
sambuca
Posted: Thursday, August 07, 2008 7:58:45 AM
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ok--hi 2 everybody---the encyclopedia gives one definition of nothing as --get this---"something that has no existence" --duhhh--WHAT??--what "something" could have no existence?---the proposition of nothing as put forth by human intellect is purely a fictitious fabrication of reverse engineering of something into nothing---there has to be something in order to have nothing--those who think the universe appeared from a state of nothingness really are thinking something had to come from something so that something must be nothing---if nothing actually existed it would be something thereby nothing/something coexist in the same domain and possibly this +/- state is responsible for matter to create itself as well as it's own space and time-- by the way--my idea that this universe is nothing more than a "timed release" vitamin pill within an enormous living organism is looking quite interesting to explore---any thoughts?----- Anxious
GodIsWearingBlack
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 2:06:53 AM
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jim wrote:


quantum mechanics also tells us that there is truly nothing in between the points of space separated by the planck length. and truly nothing happens between 2 jiffys (or is it spelled "jiffies"?). in assembly language, there is an instruction called a NOP (no op) which does absolutely nothing (except take up a couple machine cycles worth of time). in von neuman computers, absolutely nothing happens in between clock cycles. although, strictly speaking that isn't true - circuitry is busily cooling down during that time, so there are plenty of electrons bustling about. however, from the standpoint of the program, nothing happens. and don't even get me started on the nothingness of certain celebrities Silenced


I can't really comment on QM with any athority at all, as i don't know enough about it, but isn't it possible that the Planck is only a limit of our own understanding, much like atoms were, then sub-particles, then as we delved deeper we came up with the idea of an even smaller scale of String Theory, etc? So is it possible that the space between Planck lengths isn't empty at all?

As for computer programs, again, i'm no expert, so bear with me, but even if you give a NOP command, wouldn't it be true that the program would have to test for the time period it's inactive for? Wouldn't it be a WHILE argument, as in WHILE (T < t+5) {NOP}. Where T is global time, t is the time at the beginning of the command. 5 being the measurement of time you want to pause for.

There are so many possibilities about "nothingness", if we don't have to fit them inside a box of our current understanding, or laws of physics, quantum physics, etc. For example what's to say that our existence itself isn't random moments split by long times of nothingness, but seeming like a flowing timeline because the nothingness isn't experienced.
Much like when someone wakes up from a coma, say after 10 years, still thinking they are the age they were at the time of their accident. In their experience no time has passed, they are unaware of anything that happened outside of their reality.
We could be living in bursts of time, 5 seconds here, 3 hours there, all of the bits in between being filled with nothingness. Within the programmed reality idea, this nothingness could be where the "architect" writes the next bit of code. Like where you play The Sims for two hours, then go to bed, and when you load the game again in the morning, it's at the place where you left it.
sambuca
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:32:58 AM
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welcome to the forum giwb---interesting and provacative thoughts---i have sometimes entertained the hypothesis that actually every event in this universe is taking place one frame at a time as in showing a film strip and we and our universe and every thing that happens is frozen from one instant to the next and strung out in sequence and is playing like a movie --if this were true it would redefine the concept of time and measurement and be quite interesting as to forward and reverse progress as we think we know it to be------Think
jim
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 10:49:18 PM

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sambuca wrote:
i have sometimes entertained the hypothesis that actually every event in this universe is taking place one frame at a time as in showing a film strip and we and our universe and every thing that happens is frozen from one instant to the next and strung out in sequence and is playing like a movie --if this were true it would redefine the concept of time and measurement and be quite interesting as to forward and reverse progress as we think we know it to be------Think


check out "the end of time" by julian barbour. his book described exactly your point of view - the the universe is just a sequence of states. the sequence itself is the illusion of time. nothing happens between each state. fits in perfectly with programmed reality and the idea that there is nothing between jiffys nor between Planck lengths.

GodIsWearingBlack wrote:
I can't really comment on QM with any athority at all, as i don't know enough about it, but isn't it possible that the Planck is only a limit of our own understanding, much like atoms were, then sub-particles, then as we delved deeper we came up with the idea of an even smaller scale of String Theory, etc? So is it possible that the space between Planck lengths isn't empty at all?

As for computer programs, again, i'm no expert, so bear with me, but even if you give a NOP command, wouldn't it be true that the program would have to test for the time period it's inactive for? Wouldn't it be a WHILE argument, as in WHILE (T < t+5) {NOP}. Where T is global time, t is the time at the beginning of the command. 5 being the measurement of time you want to pause for.


nothingness is a complex and disturbing concept, no doubt. anything is possible, of course, but the idea that there is nothing between the Planck lengths is sort of fundamental to QM. it is theoretical, because the sizes are about 20 orders of magnitude smaller than anything that we can measure with today's technology. using moore's law, we shouldn't be able to probe those sizes until the year 2200 or so. with respect to the NOPs, no, the computer is not doing any testing during the NOP period. testing implies calculations, which implies clock cycles. a real Von Neuman computer (the kind that we are all familiar with) behaves exactly this way - nothing happening between the clock cycles. that isn't to say that there aren't other computational architectures (quantum computing, analog computing) that behave differently.
jim
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 10:50:41 PM

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sambuca wrote:
i have sometimes entertained the hypothesis that actually every event in this universe is taking place one frame at a time as in showing a film strip and we and our universe and every thing that happens is frozen from one instant to the next and strung out in sequence and is playing like a movie --if this were true it would redefine the concept of time and measurement and be quite interesting as to forward and reverse progress as we think we know it to be------Think


check out "The End of Time" by Julian Barbour. his book described exactly your point of view - the the universe is just a sequence of states. the sequence itself is the illusion of time. nothing happens between each state. fits in perfectly with programmed reality and the idea that there is nothing between jiffys nor between Planck lengths.

GodIsWearingBlack wrote:
I can't really comment on QM with any athority at all, as i don't know enough about it, but isn't it possible that the Planck is only a limit of our own understanding, much like atoms were, then sub-particles, then as we delved deeper we came up with the idea of an even smaller scale of String Theory, etc? So is it possible that the space between Planck lengths isn't empty at all?

As for computer programs, again, i'm no expert, so bear with me, but even if you give a NOP command, wouldn't it be true that the program would have to test for the time period it's inactive for? Wouldn't it be a WHILE argument, as in WHILE (T < t+5) {NOP}. Where T is global time, t is the time at the beginning of the command. 5 being the measurement of time you want to pause for.


nothingness is a complex and disturbing concept, no doubt. anything is possible, of course, but the idea that there is nothing between the Planck lengths is sort of fundamental to QM. it is theoretical, because the sizes are about 20 orders of magnitude smaller than anything that we can measure with today's technology. using moore's law, we shouldn't be able to probe those sizes until the year 2200 or so. with respect to the NOPs, no, the computer is not doing any testing during the NOP period. testing implies calculations, which implies clock cycles. a real Von Neuman computer (the kind that we are all familiar with) behaves exactly this way - nothing happening between the clock cycles. that isn't to say that there aren't other computational architectures (quantum computing, analog computing) that behave differently.
sambuca
Posted: Monday, September 15, 2008 7:35:17 AM
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thanx 4 the reference jim--will do--great discussion going on here----Applause
WhiskeyFur
Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:17:08 PM
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Just to play devil's advocate here...


As Jim said, "nothingness is a complex and disturbing concept". Some people are unable to handle it so they refuse to accept that there is nothing, and keep looking. I propose there's other, more human reasons for the theory that there is more in between the atoms (neutrons, what have you).

Imagine a bird trying to go through a TV screen. There's nothing actually behind the screen, but the bird is too stupid to realize that. What it sees is there's a forest that it can escape to through that 'window'. Therefore, it escapes it's cage and flies to the TV in it's bid for freedom, to flee to a forest that in fact does not exist. As it approaches that TV though, it seems to get bigger and bigger to the bird's view point so it tells itself that it's actually going to escape, that it's making progress. The bird is in no way prepared to handle the crash that's about to come.

The scientific community is in a way like that bird. We want to find something there. Whether or not there is, is a completely different story. As we look for what's there within an ever decreasing range, I believe it is possible, will come a point that we will truly find nothing within that range, and yet continue to try to go and look 'deeper' because the ones doing the searching can't accept that as an answer. But because we want something to be there, we will still look. And continue to hit our heads on this wall and tell ourselves we're making progress. The alternative is to rebuild our view of the world and accept that there is nothing there, not something many people are willing to do.

And so in our own delusions to find 'something', we hit our heads on the wall because few can come to terms and accept that there really is nothing there.


I only present this as an alternative view, not to encourage or discourage any particular view or belief because I believe that one should look at all the relevant facts before coming to a conclusion, including the facts you rather not see.

Beware of your own humanity when you seek the answers, otherwise you may get exactly what you want.
jim
Posted: Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:40:56 AM

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Great post, WhiskeyFur. Thanks so much for joining the forum!

Just one question - if there truly is nothing at some point and we keep looking, do we not find anything or do we "find" something because he create that reality (e.g. the observer effect)? Have you checked out our Powers of 10? At what level do you think it is truly nothing?
jdlaw
Posted: Saturday, January 31, 2009 4:20:09 PM

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Read and think!

Any question you ask (like this one about - can nothing really exist?) still must relate back to what our own realities are made of. One must first contemplate the boundaries of our inteligence and then all answers to the logical questions must come from within that framework.

Therefore, like the bird and the forest analogy on tv (see the WhiskeyFur post) ... I am going to support the notion that the answer to the nothing vs. something question only lies within "narrow" fields of inteligence. Your something vs. nothing question is therefore an unanswerable question if confined to our own "realities." The "real" answer only lies within the broader field of "general" inteligence.

i.e.

From our perspective, there is an answer to a much larger and all encompassing question that envelopes your nothing vs. something question. That bigger encompassing question is simpler. it is -- What is the difference between real and imaginary?

Real is something we experience and imaginary is something we imagine or make up. Imaginary is both something and nothing at the same time.

Thus my logical conclusion to this whole - can nothing really exist? - question is that real empty space is something, imaginary empty space is really nothing, and my imagination is all that is real for me.

Yet, my imagination is all that is really unreal to you.

RedDog
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:28:59 AM

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Isn't this a question of duality versus non-duality? For nothing to exist, there must also be something and an observer? A cosmic yin/yang.
jdlaw
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:26:46 PM

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Hey RedDog,
I think Yes. You are right.
spearshaker
Posted: Sunday, October 04, 2009 9:11:48 PM

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If you restrict the definition of "something" to the ordinary material world of matter and energy, the world of "stuff," the question of the existence of "nothing" can be given a pragmatic, probable answer. Einstein concluded (and I am persuaded) that in the absence of "stuff" space and time have no operational meaning. That is, no "stuff," no stage for its interactions with other stuff: no time, no space. No space specifically means no vacuum, no geometric extent, which is perhaps as hard to visualize as extra dimensions are. Ordinary concepts of reality are, because of our innate "software" (or "wetware," if you prefer), wrongly taken to be the stage for all of nature's doings, though relativity theories have pushed the envelope out a little.

Thought, things of a spiritual nature, are not so restricted. Psi phenomena demonstrate this: they escape space and time restrictions simply because space and time are purely adjuncts of the material world, the world of contemporary physics (with emphasis here on "contemporary").
jdlaw
Posted: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 7:56:21 PM

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Hey Spearshaker,

Right you are. I believe Einstein also called this "extension" (absence of stuff only existing because of the stuff) -- like Descartes also.

Welcome!
jdlaw
Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009 5:43:39 AM

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Static Friction ("stiction")

"Place a wooden block near one end of a long wooden board. Leaving the far end of the board on the floor, lift the end with the block until the slope of the board is sufficient for the block to begin sliding downward without being pushed. Then lower the board slightly.

Placing the block again at the top, it will not begin to slide on its own. However, it will begin and continue to slide if given a small initial push. The push adds the necessary force to overcome stiction. Once the block is moving, it no longer requires the larger force." (from wikipedia)

Back in my prior years in the lab, we did both quantitative and qualitative testing of impurity concentrations in water by supercooling which is a phenomenon of the specific "latent heat" required to allow liquid to undergo phase transistion. We used an instrument called the optical pyrometer to measure the freezing point depression and the actual time between inserting energy (agitation) and ice crystal formation.

Now as I said, this is nothing new, we were doing this back in the 70s. Yet, this is just like the "stiction" that people are now playing with in their quantum effect nanomachines (as posted by Jim in this thread a while back).

Are not these phenomena also indicators of the casimir forces?
jim
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 10:58:02 PM

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I think that the coefficient of static friction is due more to the electromagnetic force and its effect between molecules of the material in question rather than the Casimir force, or the quantum effect of particles popping into and out of existence.

But in any case, I have always been interested in the idea of static friction and what exactly happens at that moment that something begins to move from a dead stop. I think about it sometimes when I accelerate from a stop light. Isn't that first instant of acceleration effectively infinite since it represents a finite increase in velocity over an infinitesimally small unit of time? Like a jiffy? OK, not quite infinite, but probably some serious g-forces for that tiny fraction of time.

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