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Is there really matter or just different ways for energy to interact?

  1. Jun 20, 2010 #1
    I am not an academic physicist, just a person who is interested in the subject. But I think I have a handle on the basics.

    But from all that I have gathered, it would appear that there really is no such thing as things. We say that there is a wave-particle duality. That photons for example, act as both a particle and a wave. But the reason we say it behaves as a particle is that it will deflect or impart energy.

    But is the reason it does this because it is an actual object or because it will simply not interact with other things at certain energies?

    Again, it would seem to me that all that exists, or "matter". Is not really a thing or an object, but just a set of energy functions that will interact with each other but not other energy functions.

    The energy functions that make up my body will interact with each other, but will not allow me to interact with a wall. But it doesn't mean that there is some sort of object there.

    I think I may be getting a little deep in the weeds. But in sum, seems to me that the universe is really nothing more than just a huge mathematical function that can be solved at some points to indicate matter.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What is the difference, in your mind, between an "object" and a "thing"?
  4. Jun 20, 2010 #3
    good question. i guess an irreducible piece of matter. it would seem that there is no such thing. and its not because we just get smaller and smaller things (protons/neutrons, quarks, etc....) its just because those things aren't solid objects at all, but rather different modes of energy interaction. or, again, my arm cannot go through a wall, because that type of energy interaction cannot occur, not because there are solid things colliding.
  5. Jun 20, 2010 #4


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    There really isn't a difference. See, Quantum Mechanics describes matter particles as waves. Which are then taken to operator formalism and described as particles. So you have particles made up of waves made up of particles made up of waves... You get the idea. It's worse than chicken or the egg, because it really does run ad infinitum, and besides, nobody really cares.
  6. Jun 21, 2010 #5
    we may never know according to nobel laureate Robert Laughlin:

    http://fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/beneath.html [Broken]

    On a more optimistic note, the current consensus is that matter/energy is described by oscillations of space-time embedded in a higher dimensional construct (string theory, M-theory ...)

    String theory looks on the right track here, since we observe oscillatory phenomena in quantum mechanics, and non-locality observations would suggest a higher dimensional background to 3d "reality" (Note also that a low dimensional "cross-section" of a higher dimensional oscillation is usually still observed as an oscillation)

    It's frustrating to live in an age where we just don't know, imagine living at the time of Aristotle and not even understanding fire, or magnetic/electrical effects.

    btw, the reason your arm doesn't go through a wall is due to the pauli exclusion principle (Dyson, Lenard 1967), some mechanism in nature prevents the fermions (superstring oscillations) in your arm occupying the same space as the fermions (superstring oscillations) in the wall. We don't know why the exclusion principle exists, but it's what makes everyday objects occupy bulk space.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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