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Isn't nothing still something?

  1. Feb 20, 2012 #1
    Just watched Stephen Hawkings "The Story of Everything". Maybe it's outdated by now, maybe not. Still beautiful to watch.
    Anyway.....Isn't Nothing still considered to be Something?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2012 #2

    phinds

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    You need to be more specific in defining what you mean.

    For example, for the sentence "there is nothing outside the universe", then NO, the word "something" could not be meaningfully substituted for the word "nothing".
     
  4. Feb 20, 2012 #3
    But if you're talking about inside the universe, (since that's all there is), then nothing is filled with lots of somethings.
     
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #4
    Vacuum energy essentilly removes the possibility of an actual "nothing" existing within the universe. If you stand with your hands apart and put yourself anywhere in the universe, you would never find a situation where you can accurately declare "there is nothing between my hands". The only solution is to put your hands together. ;)
     
  6. Feb 20, 2012 #5
    Thank you all. I was curious as to what kind of comments I might get on my not-very-specific question. The comments in themselves are welcome. I envy those of you who do understand the math associated with physics, the equations and all. My talents lie elsewhere.
    I will be more direct now with my question. In "The Story of Everything" Stephen Hawking showed the beginning of the Big Bang. Do I understand this right? Before the BB there was nothing, correct? The Big Bang started expanding and still is expanding. What is the Big Bang expanding into?
     
  7. Feb 20, 2012 #6

    phinds

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    "big bang" really has two totally distinct meanings

    1) the singularity / t=0 --- this is TOTALLY a mystery to everyone including Hawking. The most meaningful way to descirbe it is "the place where current theories totally break down and give meaningless answers"

    2) the evolution of the universe starting at one Plank time after the singularity --- this is reasonably well understood in many aspects. I commend to your reading "The First Three Minutes" by Weinberg

    as to what it is expanding "into", there is no such thing. The thing that is expanding is everything.
     
  8. Feb 21, 2012 #7
    Thanks! It's really a challenge trying to wrap my mind around a concept such as "as to what it is expanding "into", there is no such thing. The thing that is expanding is everything."
    It only natural, for me, to try to understand such descriptions based on how I perceive everything around me. I have to get out of my comfort zone.:bugeye:
     
  9. Feb 21, 2012 #8

    Drakkith

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    Perhaps instead of imagining the universe expanding, just realize that what we actually see is that everything in the observable universe is moving away from everything else. Whether the universe is expanding into nothing or something is beyond our capabilities to determine at the moment, and possible forever. Our model doesn't REQUIRE that anything be outside the universe for it to expand into, but it really doesn't care if there is or isn't, it simply doesn't go there.
     
  10. Feb 24, 2012 #9
    Ergo nothing would be the absence of a vacuum energy. Finally an answer with a physical interpretation. It would seem at the big bang all the vacuum energy in the universe was compressed into a small volume.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  11. Feb 25, 2012 #10

    phinds

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    No, that is complete speculation on your part. It is not known whether the unverse was infinite at the beginning. All we know for sure is that it was a lot smaller than it is now and a lot denser. That does NOT imply that it was small or finite.
     
  12. Feb 25, 2012 #11
    Ergo the universe was a lot smaller and a lot denser than it is now, not small, not infinite. Sorry for the speculation.
     
  13. Feb 25, 2012 #12

    Drakkith

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    No problem. Someone forgot to refill Phind's food bowl and he's irritable at the moment.
    Down Phinds down! *swats with newspaper* Off the couch!
     
  14. Feb 25, 2012 #13
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  15. Feb 25, 2012 #14

    phinds

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    Nah, I'm just permanently irritable. It's my mission in life to tell other people when they are wrong. It's a public service I perform. :wink:
     
  16. Feb 26, 2012 #15
    Wrong? Could that be worse than being speculative?;)
     
  17. Mar 10, 2012 #16
    Is what we think of as our universe , the universe that contains everything?

    Where is the proof? I think you treat an assumption as a fact!
     
  18. Mar 10, 2012 #17

    phinds

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    No, he is treating a DEFINTION as a fact. The word "universe" in physics is genearlly taken to mean "all that there is". Yes, there ARE theories (that have no basis in fact) that there are "multiple universes" and so forth, but that doesn't change the basic definition.
     
  19. Mar 10, 2012 #18
    The assumption is that the observable universe is identical to a universe that contains everything that is.

    Not all definitions are valid, so why believe there IS a universe that contains everything that is?

    Does it contain itself? How can science tell its unique?

    It would surprise me if physics uses such an unscientific concept anywhere!

    My guess is that it is laymen discussing physics who use the concept.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  20. Mar 10, 2012 #19

    phinds

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    You COMPLETELY misunderstand cosmology.
     
  21. Mar 10, 2012 #20
    Prove it!

    I point out that the definition of the universe as everything that is, arguably is inconsistent...

    Is cosmology a religion? Where concepts are sacred? Why do you attack me instead of my argument?

    If you believe in your definition please answer the question:

    Does a universe containing everything that is, contain itself?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
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