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

Law of Conservation. How is this possible?

  1. Sep 12, 2008 #1
    I have only taken one college level physics class (Conceptual Physics), but my teacher lectured on a subject that has been stuck in my mind since (5 years).

    If matter/energy cannot be created nor destroyed, then nothing can exist.
    The idea didn’t fully sink in until after the course was over, but once it did, I have been like WTF? For 5 years.

    I completely get the law of conservation. If you were to destroy matter, where would it go? If you were to create matter, from where would it come?

    But, my professor was also (I believe) correct in the fact that this physical reality in which we live is a complete impossibility, as there is matter in it, and matter cannot be created.
    I have talked to some people about this, and most just say, “Well, the matter has just always existed”

    I find that somewhat impossible. Something doesn’t just come from nothing for one, and how could something just have always existed with no source?
    I really appreciate any input on this subject.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2008 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We don't yet exactly know how the universe was created. But we do know that this is how it works now.
     
  4. Sep 12, 2008 #3

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The asymmetry of our universe is one of the major area of research. Currently, the observation of CP-violating events (C=charge conjugation, P=Parity) seen in many decay events seems to be the strongest candidate for an explanation on why there is an over abundance of matter versus antimatter in our universe.

    The rest will be, at this moment, speculation.

    Zz.
     
  5. Sep 12, 2008 #4
    So this is a question that is stumping even the best physicists? So my professor was correct; This physical world is a complete impossibility?
     
  6. Sep 12, 2008 #5

    Hootenanny

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm afraid that I can't agree with that. The mere fact that the physical world exists for us to observe is proof that it is quite definitely possible.
     
  7. Sep 12, 2008 #6
    But according to the laws of this physical world, it is impossible, right?
     
  8. Sep 12, 2008 #7
    russ_watters is right - physics (and science in general) studies "how" the world works, in the sense of being able to predict what will happen next. Contrary to popular belief, science does not explain "why" things are the way they are. There is no science-based answer to "where did everything come from." For one thing, we have only one example to look at, and for another, we cannot create more universes and draw general conclusions regarding their creation. Thats why you see scientists who are christians, jews, muslims, atheists, agnostics, Romans, hindus, pharaonic egyptians....
     
  9. Sep 12, 2008 #8

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    On what basis do you deduce that? The best that can be deduced from that premise is that if matter/energy cannot be destroyed, then it always existed. (Of course, was it always true that matter/energy is conserved?)
    Are you sure? (Well, that "nothing" is not really nothing then, I suppose.)
    And yet you have no problem with some "source" having always existed? Where did the source come from?
     
  10. Sep 12, 2008 #9

    Hootenanny

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As Russ alluded to earlier, what makes you think that the laws of this physical world applied before this physical world existed?
     
  11. Sep 12, 2008 #10

    Defennder

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Is there any reason why we call matter "matter" and anti-matter "anti-matter"? Couldn't we reverse the names?
     
  12. Sep 12, 2008 #11

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There's a difference between "still stumping" and "impossible". The former means we are still search for answers after being given tantalizing hints. The latter is outright impossibility based on what we know now. If we know something is impossible, we won't be studying it.

    You need to bring your teacher here and let him/her defend what he/she said/meant. There is a possibility that you have misinterpret what was said. This "he said this, she said that" discussion has always been annoying because we are trying to discuss or defend hearsay, and that has never been productive because if what was interpreted was wrong, all this effort is moot and a waste of time.

    Zz.
     
  13. Sep 12, 2008 #12

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    You can call them Itchy and Scratchy if it makes you feel any better. How would that effect the physics?

    Zz.
     
  14. Sep 12, 2008 #13
    So I gather (and I say this with respect) that no one has the foggiest idea how matter exists, and that my professor was indeed correct.

    This is going to consume my life. In fact I am considering going back to school to get a degree in physics, and dedicate all my time in trying to solve this mystery.

    How does this not bother everyone who knows about it?

    Matter cannot be created, therefore matter does not exist.
     
  15. Sep 12, 2008 #14

    Defennder

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    No, just wondering if there's anything fundamental about matter apart from the fact that we are made out of it to distinguish it from antimatter.
     
  16. Sep 12, 2008 #15

    Hootenanny

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It does 'bother' people, particularly those who research in this area. Just because we haven't found the answer yet, doesn't mean that we don't care.

    As Doc Al said, that is faulty logic. Just because something cannot be created, doesn't mean that it can't exist provided that it has always existed.
     
  17. Sep 12, 2008 #16

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This guy (and he's not the only one) thinks that new universes are created all the time according to the laws of this physical world (I think he's crazy):

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.2593v1.pdf
     
  18. Sep 12, 2008 #17

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    These guys seem to be bothered by it also:

    "The cosmological singularity at t=0 is an infinite energy density state, so general relativity predicts its own breakdown. "

    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/bb_problems.html
     
  19. Sep 12, 2008 #18

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with most. What makes you think it is impossible for something to have always existed?

    You need to justify that claim a bit. As you try to I think you will find that you don't have a logical reason why it is impossible for something to have always existed.
     
  20. Sep 12, 2008 #19

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  21. Sep 12, 2008 #20
    Go for it Ralph ! I really mean that. People are mostly content, or worry about really mundane stuff. Enthusiastic interest in deep mysteries is one big positive trait we humans (sometimes) possess...
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Law of Conservation. How is this possible?
  1. Conservation Laws (Replies: 1)

  2. How is this possible? (Replies: 3)

Loading...