Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How can something be the smallest

  1. Feb 12, 2004 #1
    how can something be the "smallest"

    While siting at work and doing nothing as usual a thought came to me....how can there be space in between the "smallest particles" when and if we do find them? Dosnt space need to be occupied by something no matter how small or rudimentary? What will we find, What will we find....when we find, the smallest particle. Lets say that there cannot be space in between these particles and that these particles make a cohesive sheet through out the universe, I wonder what would happen if we could knock one of these particles out of alignment what would be "behind" or what would take its place seeing that space cannot be occupied by nothing (if thats the case I dunno that it is).
    well thats as far as I got untill my phone rang. Help me on this, I bombed physics in college, but hold a Love for the abstract thought.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2004 #2
    if space cannot be empty... how do you explain a vacuum?
  4. Feb 13, 2004 #3
    how can somethin be empty if it dosnt exist
  5. Feb 13, 2004 #4
    Perhaps you shouldn't be thinking of particles as something exclusively as full...... up against empty, but rather empty against the concept of full. In other words - Two concepts which cannot be separated by any logical mechanism whatsoever but which are nevertheless different -----like the front and back of a door. Zero and one fit this bill, and a plethora of these entities can share the geometry involved. Hence a point in space can be shared by several units. I.E. A point in space can be represented briefly by one unit while another and yet another is briefly representing that same point that is no longer represented by the unit that left.

    If you break the mold - That of a physical universe in favor of a conceptual one that obeys physical laws. You could actually understand what I said above
  6. Feb 14, 2004 #5
    Which are you claiming doesn't exist... vacuum or space?
  7. Mar 2, 2004 #6
    aren't we getting a bit philosophical here?

    Is space a perfect vacuum anyway?

  8. Mar 4, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Because "vacuum" is not the same as "nothing".

    In a space where there is no matter, there is still a field that gives it its metric properties (namely, the gravitational field). If you have no metric field, then your "space" has no extension and no time intervals on it.
  9. Mar 5, 2004 #8
    if space-time is discrete then there must be a smallest piece of matter

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook