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Is more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space?

  1. Sep 8, 2012 #1
    Because of the proportionately huge spaces between the wave-particles in the atom, we accept that 99.9% of any object is empty space. If I understand this at all, the 'empty space' to which this refers is nothing, i.e. not a thing.

    Of course we would like to describe or quantify 'empty space', but there are no qualities of nothing. Things can be described and defined. Nothing cannot be described or defined. There is in nothing no thing to describe or define. This makes it beyond human understanding.

    This predominance of empty space in the makeup of all things means that every thing is mostly beyond our mental understanding - at least as words can describe. The vast majority of any thing cannot be objectified. Perhaps we should give the empty space more attention than the comparatively tiny 'material' interspersed within the empty space. Giving nothingness more attention may develop a perceiving that is not mental. This may give rise to an understanding inexpressible in words, but nevertheless of great value.
     
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  3. Sep 8, 2012 #2
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    There is no reason to assume that nothingness is beyond human understanding. In fact, several qualities of nothing are already known:

    1) Dimensionality. Space remains 3 dimensional even when nothing is in it.
    2) Vacuum fluctuations
    3) Expansion.
    4) Refractive index = 1. Other mediums can be more or less then this.
     
  4. Sep 8, 2012 #3
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    Thank you, Algr.
    Perhaps the qualities you mention have to do more with matter as observed within the nothingness and with the observer than with nothingness. As long as there is some description, one is describing something. With no thing to describe, description is impossible.
    Perhaps human understanding of some other kind is possible, but words will only poorly express that understanding. The feeling is like 'I am That.' - the relationship of identity.
    Put down your instruments and approach nothingness with innocence. Be ready to be overtaken by awe. Don't worry about what you'll report... it will not be important.
     
  5. Sep 9, 2012 #4

    cgk

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    This is at best very misleading, and more like just wrong. Every condensed matter object we interact with in everyday life (i.e., solids, fluids) and also most atmospheric-pressured gasses, have a high electron density almost everywhere within their "macroscopic boundaries". Now no matter if you want to see the electron gas/fluid as waves or particles, it is definitely there, and anywhere in that space you are very likely to encounter electrons. Even if you insist on a point-particle definition: Classical gases also consist of small objects floating around. Would you say that a room filled with chlorine gas is empty? I'd recommend not going in to experience nothingness.
     
  6. Sep 9, 2012 #5

    mfb

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    Nothing is the absence of any objects needing description. Where is the problem?
    Even a perfect vacuum is not "nothing", so you do not get that issue anyway.


    And see cgk for solid objects and gases.
     
  7. Sep 9, 2012 #6
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    First, cgk, I thank you for your concern for my well-being. Secondly, I am honored that you considered my assertion worthy of a response.

    I did not mean to imply that the particles or waves do not exist, or that one does not 'encounter' them. One clearly encounters them when touching a diamond or steel. Gases that are not lethal make the bits less noticeable, but no less numerous or less present. It is simply true that the distances between these particles or waves in a given atom - especially between the nucleus and the electron cloud - is proportionate to the distances between the planets and the sun. That's how it is on the microscopic scale. Now for the macroscopic scale: look out into space on a clear night and notice how many points of light you see and how much blackness, and you'll see what I'm talking about first hand. Can you acknowledge there's more nothing than something? It seems to be true no matter how finely or grossly we focus our attention. This may be meaningful - but only if we stop our striving / thinking long enough to take it in.
     
  8. Sep 9, 2012 #7
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    There is no problem but what thinking makes a problem. Sorry if someone thinks nothing is a problem. I find nothing wonderful. We either get that there is more nothing than something, or we don't.
     
  9. Sep 9, 2012 #8

    mfb

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    No - this is wrong, and I think I see where the misconception comes from.

    The diameter of a nucleus is extremely small compared to the diameter of an atom (about a factor of 100,000 and comparable to the ratio of size to orbital radius for planets in the solar system) - but that does not mean that the atom is nearly empty. It is filled with the electron wave functions.

    There is more intergalactic space than stars. So what? Intergalactic space is still filled with particles, just less dense than stars.
     
  10. Sep 9, 2012 #9
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    I just noticed this thread on this forum: What % of an atom is empty?

    Notice within that thread how some can accept nothing.
    Notice in this thread how comfortable each of us is with nothing.
     
  11. Sep 9, 2012 #10
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    Why would it be nothing inside an atom? Why not a vacuum filled with electric field from electrons and protons?


    Isn't it interesting we call an atom an object, but we don't think the solar system is an object? Following this chain of thought it seems a galaxy and finally the universe is an object also.
     
  12. Sep 9, 2012 #11

    Drakkith

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    This discussion depends highly on what you think a particle is. If you think that particles are point like or near point like and that the wave functions are nothing physical, then I can see how you can say 99% of the atom is empty space, as if we were able to locate every electron in an atom at the same time most of the space within the atom would be where an electron is not located at. However, if one accepts that subatomic particles are more than just point particles, that they "occupy" a space approximately equal to their wave function size, then even though we only find them in one specific spot upon measuring their location, they would in fact occupy most of the atom, including some inside the nucleus.
     
  13. Sep 9, 2012 #12

    mfb

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    If you want to model a gas, you would consider whole atoms as objects.
    If you want to model the galaxy, you would consider the whole solar system as one object.
    If you want to model the large-scale structure of the universe, you would probably consider the whole galaxy as an object.

    The difference between the first case and the others is just that atoms and their components do not have separate names, as they are all identical (there is no "atom abc" or "3rd electron", similar to "our solar system" or "earth").


    I would say 0%.
     
  14. Sep 10, 2012 #13
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    This sounds more like a language quirk then anything about the real world. You could reverse it and say "If a description is possible, then it is not nothing." And from there we could say:

    "Nothing is nothing."
     
  15. Sep 11, 2012 #14
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    sir it is true since it has been already proved by the quantum that an atom is approx 99.9% vaccant. and everything is made up of an atom so it is agreed by me
     
  16. Sep 11, 2012 #15
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    if you just want a deep study of it then you have must read "garudpurana" a hindu book ... and iam an indian so i had read that... so please if you want a correct ans.. of your question please take look of that book
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2012
  17. Sep 11, 2012 #16

    mfb

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    Science cannot prove things, and your claim is not supported by quantum theory. In addition, not everything is made out of atoms.
     
  18. Sep 11, 2012 #17

    DrChinese

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    Welcome to PhysicsForums, Kumar!

    As interesting and insightful as the garudpurana may be, it pales in comparison to the description of the physical world presented by modern quantum theory. Yes, everyone can see the parallels... these have inspired many a thread while we discuss the philosophical meaning of "nothing" and "matter" and "reality". But such discussion really does not belong in the Quantum Physics forum.

    If you want to say that "nothing" is the absence of point particles, then yes, the entirety of the planet Earth is nearly a perfect vacuum. However, most of Earth's substance is composed of molecules bound, organized and related by the traditional forces. This is what we see and perceive, and those forces fully occupy all of the space you claim to be empty.

    Further, as far as we know, the existence of virtual particles occupies all of spacetime - even in the coldest farthest reaches of space. This makes it difficult to describe any spot as truly empty, even when there are no point particles nearby. So as already pointed out by others, it really comes down to your operational definitions.
     
  19. Sep 12, 2012 #18
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    please give some examples of that which is not made up of an atom and that will a stable object.. ane please it should not be any part of energy.
     
  20. Sep 12, 2012 #19
    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    will you please give me an example of that stable particle and the part of energy?
     
  21. Sep 12, 2012 #20

    phinds

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    Re: It is a hint that more than 99.9% of any object is just empty space.

    The garudpurana is NOT physics and is not an appropriate reference for this forum.
     
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