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Question - is it impossible for nothing to exist?

  1. Nov 22, 2004 #1

    Is it impossible for 'nothing' to exist?
    or can a point in space merely approach
    this limit?
    in other words be so close to zero as to
    effectively appear as such?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2004 #2
    It's not comprehendable if it was possible because you're referring to non-existence. The word itself is a paradox. The only reason it makes sense is because of context. If you said, "Nothing exists." You're refering to current existence as it is known, or imagined, and it reaching a balance, that if valued, would assume the sum of zero. However, the definition for zero is that it is a holding place for a defined value, usually numerical. Thus, 0=1.

    It's all relative.
  4. Nov 24, 2004 #3
    what happened to that which did not
    exist before the universe?
  5. Nov 24, 2004 #4
    please excuse my fragmented thoughts on this topic..

    if 'nothing' does in fact exist, would it not lack dimension?
    length, width, and height would have no meaning..
    the known universe could easily fit within such a
    conceptual oddity.
  6. Nov 29, 2004 #5
    By using your own example:

    It can not exist because it would not lack dimensions due to the fact that something can fit inside it; something that you decided to label as the known universe.

    All you did was take a relative measurement of length, width, and height in your imagination and replace it with a void. A void is still something.
  7. Dec 1, 2004 #6
    a void is only something when compared to something.
    that sounds incredibly cryptic and has no basis in meaning.
    this reminds me of godel's theorem, or of something said that led to godel's theorem coming about. I forget who said this "it occured to me that sometimes sets are are a member of themselves, and sometimes they are not. the set of all teaspoons, for example, is not a teaspoon, and is not a member of that set. the set of all things that are not teaspoons, is a member of itself".

    A thought of mine regarding the universe, and it's habit to expand. As it expands, the distance between objects increases, and the ratio of matter to space gets smaller. this approaches a density of zero. the limit as "time approaches infinity" is zero. you cannot witness this, obviously, since there is no end of time. also, the universe at that point would be very sparse in terms of energy. esentially, a void with no detectable motion or matter.

    perhaps it was this scenario (the universe approaching and realizing the aforementioned limit (is there a better terminology, here?)), that spawned a contradiction which in turn borne the current universe.

    One more thing I would like to add:
    Let A be the mind**** induced by thinking about the size of the universe, and beyond, or just "positive" infinity in general.
    Let B be the mind**** induced by thinking about nothing existing. ever, anywhere. nothing.

    I conjecture that B is strictly greater than A.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2004
  8. Dec 16, 2004 #7
    I think you are trying to make the infinite (nothing) finite. No*thing can exist, and does exist, just not as a thing. It is no*thing. The problem is our toughts are necessarily finite; objects of thinking (thoughts) are "things". It's how our brain & mind work.
  9. Dec 17, 2004 #8


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    To add (something or nothing), is it possible for something to not exist?
  10. Dec 18, 2004 #9
    Anything can depart 'THE REALM OF SENSIBILITY' into any size it may so desire, but as I have made it clear everywhere in this PF forum and elsewhre, it can NEVER reduce to absolute nothingness, since there has never been any NATURAL or CAUSAL RELATIONS existing between 'SOMETHING' and 'NOTHINGNESS'. Both may very well exist, but one has always been without the other. Since this has always been so, none can give rise to nor decline to the other.
  11. Dec 21, 2004 #10
    Well, if infinity exists (which is the most logical inclination), then nothing cannot exist, however something can be assigned to zero which, by the way, only defines the boundries of at least two different parameters intersecting at a signle point. Thus, all that is changed is the given plane and the value of said plane due to one's relative position that is portrayed by one's perspective.
  12. Dec 21, 2004 #11

    You can perceive absolute nothingness, but then both you and the nothingness exist, so something still is.

    One step further and you do not exist but the nothingness then cannot be perceived.

  13. Dec 21, 2004 #12
    something can always be divided into smaller peieces
    something can not exsist only in the physical world, very much like a time machine exsits a an Idea, but not a thing. so anything can exsist as ideas, and the very second you think of something that does not exsist, you just created it (the idea of it) by thinking about it
  14. Jan 1, 2005 #13
    Seems to me that 'nothingness' in an EMPIRICAL sense is that which one does not perceive: 'something' produces sensory input-'nothing' produces no sensory input. Nothingness in a RATIONAL sense (that which exist as thought) exists as the notion 'that which is opposite to something.' Nothingness as an idea or concept is something (a thought) but the essence of 'nothingness'- the content of the thought-exists as the absence of 'somethingness'.
  15. Jan 5, 2005 #14
    It's NOT still here
    It's NOT still not here
    It's NOT both of the above
    It's NOT none of the above
  16. Jan 8, 2005 #15
    If a state of infinite and absolute nothing ever existed there would be no cause for change and 'something ' would not exist, or come into existence.
    It is the fact that 'nothing' has force and anti-force that is the cause of existence.
    Given that the force is the force of nothing, then anti-force must be the force of something or to put it another way, every force must have a carrier and the carrier is 'something'. That 'something' is also the anti-force; the cause of the law that states for every force there must be an equal and opposing force.
    In a nutshell then, the minimum state of infinity consists of both nothing and something. This is born out by the Standard Model which predicts a minimum energy level for the void and energy requires the presence of 'something'.
    What you call that 'something' (energy, mass, wave or light) depends on what form or aspect of 'something' you wish to portray.
  17. Jan 8, 2005 #16
    I believe that it doesn't exist. Even if there is 'nothing', my long-held view is that it has no causal relation with 'something', for it can neither give rise to something nor any something declining into it. Something and nothing cannot give rise to each other, even if they both exist! I have seen someone argued in this forum that if 'nothing' exists, then it has to be construed as something. Well, this is not logically ruled out either. If 'nothing' is something, then we are dealing with one thing and not two. We are dealing with one thing with two names.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2005
  18. Jan 8, 2005 #17


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    all this talk about nothing what a waste of somthing!
  19. Jan 8, 2005 #18

    A hypothetical observer watching the big bang 'create the beginning of the universe' might conclude from sensory input that the big bang came from NOTHING because he/she/it (hsi) would 'see' it appear from nothing.

    However, when the observer (who understood that the concept of SOMETHING and NOTHING were different) thought about it, hsi might think that, maybe, the big bang event resulted from something too small for hsi to perceive.

    Hsi would then have to decide: Did the big bang come from 'nothing- nothing 'or from 'something-nothing'-that which was the result of sensory perception being inadequate to perceive the very small thing (something) that was actually there which caused the big bang?

    Hsi,being a rational entity, would probably conclude that since nothing-nothing could contain nothing that could cause a big bang, the big bang came from 'something-nothing' which could contain something (although too small to perceive) which could produce a big bang.

    What do you think? Something from nothing-nothing or something-nothing?
  20. Jan 9, 2005 #19
    I believe that it doesn't exist. Even if there is 'nothing', my long-held view is that it has no causal relation with 'something', for it can neither give rise to something nor any something declining into it.

    Would you agree that if infinity consisted of absolute nothing, then it would have a vacuum force? If so, it can be argued that vacuum force is the cause of creation, therefore it is possible to get something from nothing. But we cannot repeat this experimentally because we cannot create a volume of absolute nothing; all that can be proved experimentally is that we cannot add or take away from what already exists (conservation of energy). That would mean that the vacuum force is the supreme controller of the quantity of 'something' throughout infinity.
    I mean that in a scientific sense and in no way do I mean in a religous sense.
  21. Jan 9, 2005 #20
    A scientific nothing

    When you are the child of divorced parents, the mark right behind the marriage status of your parents equals that of nothing.

    Without naming anyone in particular (though I would like to name Mumeishi's post for the wonderful graphic right next to it) I read in most posts that we all have a somewhat clear idea what nothing is all about. I think the confusion mainly occurs due to the ability to not have to clearly state what it is we are talking about. So I want to give some examples that deliver almost touchable nothings.

    Zeroes in the binary language are quite essential to the language. If it wasn't for the zeroes there would hardly be anything legible, because all words would be comprised of ones; only the length of the words would differ.

    If a marriage is annulled it means that as far as both parties are concerned nothing really happened.

    Breaks in music are not essential, but they are fundamental to music. A break at the right time and the right place can make or break the tune. And while we are at it, a music hall is not just built to keep those other annoying noises out, it also helps with the perfect beginning to every good piece of music: silence.

    A scientific nothing is a nothing that we can touch without touching it. A clean petri-dish is a first requirement to have any biological experiment done otherwise the experiment is tainted. Science requires nothing because one of its vital sets - the ability to theorize - occurs in a scientific empty space that nevertheless helps determine a lot of what you and I have learned about science. True, facts can be a substantial part of theories, but theories in themselves are not facts. As such they are scientific nothings. But still important, wouldn't you agree?

    Let's admit it, our universe would not be the same if it wasn't for nothing. So, why not come up with examples where you can see a whole lot of nothing!

    My choice where nothing first started to occur? Not before, but during/at/right before the birth of our universe.

    A unified theory has as a requirement that nothing is unimportant. A fundamental nothing would most certainly spoil the fun. http://www.pentapublishing.com Read about the mathematical evidence that gives a fundamental nothing the heads-up.

    Poll http://www.toequest.com/forum/showthread.php?t=96
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2005
  22. Jan 11, 2005 #21
    what are you talking about, if you get a divorce it still happened, and silence in the music isn't really silence, it's just too low of a decibel level to be precieved, by your logic air would be made of nothing, which we know isn't true.... hmnn I think this argument is best left to seinfeld.
  23. Jan 16, 2005 #22
    Not nothing

    Some people react by not saying anything. Of course that is not nothing; it is still a reaction. But on the level of uttering a word, one can only mark the box right next to nothing.

    When listening to music a break may deliver excitement to the tune, but right next to 'played notes' one has to mark the box of 'nothing' or 'silence' for the whole duration of the break.

    When divorced you can say that it is a state based on the past, but in the present one has to mark the box right next to no for the question of currently married (unless remarried).

    In the binary language one can say that the zero is something, but when all existing zeroes are placed in a single group they are still nothing more than a single zero. That would not be possible when doing the same with ones. Many 1111s are not identical to a single 1.

    The air molecules are not identical to nothing, but they certainly contain a whole lot of space. The whole earth when tightly comprised would - according to physicists - be similar in size to a cherry. Reality contains a whole lot of space.

    I'd rather talk to Einstein about nothing, who said: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2005
  24. Jan 16, 2005 #23
    But that is a scientific way of looking at things. I do not see any benefit in trying to dispute that. But look at this systematic analysis by sd01g.

    This neatly captures my own understanding of what the real problem is in our overall perception and understanding of the natural clarifying relation between NOTHING and SOMETHING. And my own answer to sd01g's question is 'Something-nothing'. It is our habit - for things tend to suddenly but mysteriously turn into NOTHING when they approach the point where we can no longer see them. And if you ask me, I would reply that this is a very bad intellectual habit!
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2005
  25. Jan 17, 2005 #24
    existence vs. non-existence

    IMHO, Elas has offered the best description of "nothing". There's "nothing" wrong with a scientific explanation. A true "nothing" is in fact a pure vacuum. Of course, a pure vacuum does not exist.

    I don't think using a binary zero as an analogy makes much sense.

    something = existence
    nothing = non-existence

    I think both terms are necessary since they are opposites.

    My two cents.....John A.
  26. Jan 17, 2005 #25
    Where the heck is my E.i.N.S. when I need it!?

    Alright, all you PF veterans. Brace yourselves to read something you've already read much too many times before...

    This debate started out badly, so it has only gotten worse since (no offense). The word "nothing" is defined as "not anything". That means that it is impossible to refer to something, by using the word "nothing". That means that to say "I'm talking about 'nothing'" is the same thing as saying "I'm not talking about anything". They are logically and semantically equivalent statements. Ergo, whenever someone has used the word "it" (or any other pronoun) to refer to "nothing", they have been misusing a pronoun, since they haven't be referring to anything.

    So, before we get bogged down in a discussion about the nature of something (too late) let's be sure that there's actually something to discuss.
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