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All One, or All Separate?

  1. Jul 3, 2006 #1
    I am wondering if all reality is one happening, or if it can be reasonably believed to be a collection of wholly separate happenings.

    To express the question another way: Do we ("We" meaning existing beings) grow out from (as grass grows out from Earth) or come in to existence (as one comes into a room, beginning from outside of the room)?

    Am I you and you me? Is one basic unit of energy every basic unit of energy, or are they all separate happenings? If all of the most basic units of existence come out of "nothingness" would that mean that "nothingness" is fundamental reality and as such we are all expressions of the one nothingness, and nothingness itself?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2006 #2


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    Welcome to PF, Wally. The question that you pose will probably be relocated to the Philosophy section; it isn't really in the realm of hard physics.
  4. Jul 4, 2006 #3
    well, I think they are distinct entities. Don't you observe that different existening entities have features that are contradictions. I mean like humans can reproduce (hence alive) but the stone can't. Now, if they were the same thing and had the same existence, then the same existence will be able to reproduce and not to reproduce at the same time. It is logical contradiction.
  5. Jul 4, 2006 #4
    Thank you for the welcome.

    I'm speaking on a level more basic than a human and a stone, I mean in the most fundamental sense, are we all made of the same "stuff"?

    I've heard in quantum mechanics things can pop in and out of existence almost instantly, would these things be separate than all of the other "stuff" in existence, or would they be the same?

    As best as I can see a stone and a human are just different forms of the same "stuff", but if there are basic units of existence that are popping in and out of existence, not form but existence itself, then perhaps we're not all the same stuff, but all of the basic little units of existence are separate, unconnected (in the most fundamental sense).
  6. Jul 4, 2006 #5


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    The basic units of existence are matter (electrons, protons, neutrons, other subatomic particles) and electromagnetic radiation. Everything in the universe is made of these two basic components (can anyone think of any exceptions?).

    These two basic elements can be converted between each other, and all matter can be converted to any other type of matter.

    In fact, it is theoretically possible to convert any of the basic components of the universe into any other.

    Yes, we humans are made of the very same protons and electrons that made up the hydrogen that emerged from the Big Bang.
  7. Jul 4, 2006 #6
    Thank you!

    What about particles that come out of (what seems) nothing and (almost) instantaneously ceasing to exist? How would they have been around in the Big Bang?
  8. Jul 4, 2006 #7
    ok..if you are talking about the most fundamental existential level, then we must look at all existenting things, including metaphyiscal entities.
    Now, don't confuse science with philosophy because they've got different subjects and can not deal with " the fundamental existence" like science can not and should not say anything regarding metaphysical world, so as a reply to DaveC426913, sorry the existence is not only matter and science does not have the right to limit the existence to matter because it doesn't have the methodology of investigating other than matter. That is if we want to talk about the most basic existential level.

    Dear Waaly, regarding Quantum mechanics, if what it says is true, I don't think it means pop in existence like creation or pop out without any left effects. I think when they say "pop out of existence", they mean that matter ( what "existence" is to scientists) diminishes and it gets converted to other forms like energy or radiation(form of energy). Thus, the bottom line is there must be compromising effect due to its pop out, otherwise the energy is not conserved, and when they pop in, they don't come out from nothing.

    Nature is not a CREATOR, it is merely a CONVERTOR which requires something already out there to work on.
  9. Jul 4, 2006 #8


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    Wally is talking about virtual particles which can indeed pop into existence from vacuum and disappear again. While those particles were not in existence duribngf hte Big Bang, the underlying vacuum energy from which the particles sprung was. Still part of the same universe.
  10. Jul 4, 2006 #9
    Thank you for the replies. That's what I'm talking about, DaveC, but would you be able to explain it a bit more, please? I don't quite understand what the energy in the vaccum is.
  11. Jul 4, 2006 #10
    I see now..then the thread should be relocated back to hard physics section. :)
  12. Jul 4, 2006 #11


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    And if we're talking physics about virtual particles be aware that there's a physics debate on whether virtual particles are real or more like variables of integration that are just part of the formulism.
  13. Jul 15, 2006 #12
    I suggest reading this book:
    Looking Glass Universe: The Emerging Science of Wholeness (Touchstone Book) by John C. Briggs and F. David Peat (Paperback - Jun 1986)

    The book is out of print but can still be obtained used or through interlibrary loans.

    The late physicist David Bohm was big on wholeness in the universe. You may want to type his name into a search engine.

    The universe as an unbroken whole can solve some riddles in quantum physics such as Bell's theorem and quantum interconnectedness. The big bang theory suggest that at one time the whole universe was compacted into a singularity much smaller than the size of a atom. Intuition should tell us if in the past the universe was connect as one it should still be connected as one.
  14. Jul 15, 2006 #13
    Is there no way this interconnectedness (entanglement?) could have been broken as the universe expanded?
  15. Jul 17, 2006 #14
    The theory of wholeness is highly speculative. It is possible that the universe as it expanded became seperate but one has to ask if "space" really consist of "nothing" or even if there is such a thing as nothing. The fact that light propagates through space makes me lean towards some sort of medium that has yet to be detected. Possibly quantum foam, virtual particles popping in and out of existence.
  16. Jul 17, 2006 #15
    Wally, these particles that create and annihilate are the same particles that were around during the big bang and are the same particles that exist now. The mechanism your talking about is thus. A particle of matter and a particle of anti-matter can create seemingly on their own in a complete vacuum. These particles then annihilate each other almost instantaneously therefore they do not violate the conservation of energy law. The elemental particles that make up the entire mass of the universe are created from seemingly nothing and can return to seemingly nothing. We've yet to figure out where these particles come from or how they are create.
  17. Jul 24, 2006 #16
    Yes, it is all one. The UNI-verse is a holograph. No things actually ever touch, yet all things are connected. The rudementary make up of the universe and this existence as mentioned above are... atoms, protons, neutrons, electron, etc... all revolving around one another... and never actually touching. Solid and individualized existence is only a matter of one beings ignorance of knowledge combined with a lack of imagination and simply only a primitive VISUAL illusion.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2006
  18. Jul 26, 2006 #17
    Thank you all for replying.

    I'd really like for you to explain this in more detail, because if someone were to say "reality is not all one" in place of your first two sentences, and dropped the final sentence, it would seem to make even more sense to me.

    I feel like I'm missing something. The middle of your paragraph seems to imply that the universe (regardless of the actual name) is a collection of separate things, rather than one. So I figure I've missed an important bit of information.
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