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

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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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  • #2
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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.
 
  • #3
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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.
 
  • #4
cgk
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Because of the proportionately huge spaces between the wave-particles in the atom, we accept that 99.9% of any object is 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.
 
  • #5
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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.
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.
 
  • #6
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... 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.

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.
 
  • #7
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...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.

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.
 
  • #8
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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.
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.

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?
There is more intergalactic space than stars. So what? Intergalactic space is still filled with particles, just less dense than stars.
 
  • #9
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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.
 
  • #10
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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.

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


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)

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.
 
  • #11
Drakkith
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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.
 
  • #12
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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.
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 just noticed this thread on this forum: What % of an atom is empty?
I would say 0%.
 
  • #13
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With no thing to describe, description is impossible.

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."
 
  • #14


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
 
  • #15


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
 
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  • #16
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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
Science cannot prove things, and your claim is not supported by quantum theory. In addition, not everything is made out of atoms.
 
  • #17
DrChinese
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if u just want a deep study of it then u have must read "garudpurana" a hindu book ... and iam an indian so i had read that... so plz if u want a correct ans.. of ur question plz take look of that book

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.
 
  • #18


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.
 
  • #19


will you please give me an example of that stable particle and the part of energy?
 
  • #20
phinds
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if u just want a deep study of it then u have must read "garudpurana" a hindu book ... and iam an indian so i had read that... so plz if u want a correct ans.. of ur question plz take look of that book

The garudpurana is NOT physics and is not an appropriate reference for this forum.
 
  • #21
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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.
The sun, the fuel of fusion reactors, parts of the interstellar medium, and other plasmas (consists of plasma)
Neutron stars (mainly neutrons)
Black holes
Quark gluon plasma
Electron beams, heavy ion beams and so on (not really "a stable object", but that was not your initial statement)
Mesons and all baryons except the proton, especially free neutrons (see above about stability)
Neutrinos
Light

Note that all objects have energy, independent of their composition.
 
  • #22
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Thanks for helping me with this stone soup. All I brought was this stone, and look at all the flavors we've added together!

Maybe you skeptics believe there is more substance to things than has been proven. I wouldn't quibble over a % or 2. Say things are only 98% empty space... still, that's a whole lot of nothing - proportionately.

I'm just sayin'...

Pay attention to nothing - or, alternatively, you could believe what you think. Big ha ha.
 
  • #23


I believe just like english or sanskrit or tamil, math is just another language...we could argue over languages and how we define them but i do believe human thought is bounded by his language. i believe we must stop looking at the world in a Darwinian way of biological evolution and look at it as an evolution of language. languages like organisms are very much living and evolving. biology can be looked at as another abstraction level. but a more subtle description of biology can be language. Im just thinking. so Phinds saying that garuda purana is not physics seems to be a very unscientific justification to ignorance which has seeped into modern science. Math is a language. Quantum physics is a thought process represented as mathematical expression. i find it as fiction/real as a john grisham novel. Its not unscientific to not be able to quantify, its actually unscientific not being able to experience and understand.
 
  • #24
phinds
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... Its not unscientific to not be able to quantify ...

Uh ... really?

I would agree that there may be parts of science that are not about quantification, but as a blanket statement, I think that's just ridiculous.
 
  • #25
DrChinese
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so Phinds saying that garuda purana is not physics seems to be a very unscientific justification to ignorance which has seeped into modern science. Math is a language. Quantum physics is a thought process represented as mathematical expression. i find it as fiction/real as a john grisham novel.

This thread is seriously wandering. Start a thread about the philosophy of science and the scientific method in the Philosophy section. This section is about Quantum Physics. Saying that we are all a part of everything (or whatever) is not quantum physics. We could also discuss whether love is as big as an atom but that doesn't belong here either.
 

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