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Is space, devoid of matter, nothing?

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Guest jrshep

Sorry.

I swear that I didn't choose to post that last post. But I have a theory as to what might have caused me to have posted it. It's the heat, at least that would be my guess, and I just finished cutting the grass, so I was hot and tired. I couldn't help it. B)

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Guest jrshep
It was cute -- in a Cathy comic strip kind of way.

Well, thank you, I guess, Betsy.

I say I guess because I don't know who or what the Cathy comic strip is (I can't remember the last time I actually read a paper. I'll do a search and see if I can find some examples.), and given all I have are your words, no smilies, I don't know if your saying it was cute in a pleasant manner that you enjoyed, or a stupid one that you found annoying. Perhaps that's what I deserve.

Sometimes it's nice to mock all the irrationality around, that's what I intended to do with respect to "Nothing," and claims of psychological determinism. However, I see that the discussion has halted, so if my post was rude, in the context of the thread at least, and if I interruped the flow of the discussion, I apologize to all involve.

John

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However, I see that the discussion has halted, so if my post was rude, in the context of the thread at least, and if I interruped the flow of the discussion, I apologize to all involve.

The discussion halted because we hit a dead end. How many different ways can we say the same thing?

Your post was cute and there is no need to apologize.

(Actually, I was thinking about responding to what you wrote because the question of thinking about "what is not" in Ancient Greek philosophy was a big issue dating back to Parmenides and Gorgias. I decided not to respond because I would have to write a lot of something, about nothing. B) )

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Guest jrshep
The discussion halted because we hit a dead end. How many different ways can we say the same thing?

That's got to be a trick question, right? B)

Your post was cute and there is no need to apologize.
Thank you. And in that light, I thank you too Betsy, and without the "I guess." B)

(Actually, I was thinking about responding to what you wrote because the question of thinking about "what is not" in Ancient Greek philosophy was a big issue dating back to Parmenides and Gorgias. I decided not to respond because I would have to write a lot of something, about nothing.  :D )

Thinking about "what is not" has a grand history in religion as well.

I'll have to look into just what Parmenides and Gorgias had to say about nothing, but perhaps it would be a waste. I often find myself thinking about nothing in particular, but perhaps that is not the same as the nothing in general that they pondered.

Beautiful evening out tonight. A full (?) moon over a nearby lake made a nice walk, and gave me time to think about nothing in general and in particular. Sadly, I have to report that I have nothing to offer by way of enlightenment on nothing.

Good thing that the gators are more afraid of me than I am of them. In the dark, as I walk along the damn, I can hear them, perhaps 20 feet away, thrashing to get into the water and away from shore. It's a powerful thrashing.

P.S. I wish I could remember who it was that sang it, but there was a cute song about that "nothing" that lovers oft say in response to questions as to what is bothering them. Probably about ten years old; a female artist. Anyone know of it?

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QUOTE] But this notion of space expanding or contracting is just what I warned you about up above, the reification of space. Space is not a thing that expands or contracts, it is a spatial relation between objects which exist. You can imagine a lot of things, but imagination does not make expanding space of physical singularities real.

Stephen.

One of my goals here and atm is to learn as much as I can about the plausibility of the big bang theory and related hypothesis.

As Paul Davies{and presumably anyone who supports BB} says to consider space as a piece of rubber that is expanding like a stretched balloon and that it's not the galaxies that are moving{matter by itself}, but the expansion of space carrying the galaxies apart.

Now obviously that's an analogy, but I was under the impression that HE actually suggests that we can legitimately visualize such a happening, and if so, he'd be saying/reifing space, but not just by analogy, in reality and visually aided by the balloon analogy and presumably "confirmed" mathematically.

So is space expanding/unwinding just mathematically or actually?

I do not want to belabor this point, but originally you said "forces being an inherent aspect of matter." I am simply pointing out that the force, say electromagnetic or the strong nuclear force, have boson particles that carry the force from one particle to another, and these bosons are not matter particles at all.
Well you know more than me, so I'll take your word for it.

You're welcome. I'll look forward to it.

Thank you, I'm glad you're here helping us novices!

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One of my goals here and atm is to learn as much as I can about the plausibility of the big bang theory and related hypothesis.

The BB is fundamentally flawed, both philosophically, and scientifically. I have included at the end of this post a short description I wrote elsewhere about some of the reasons why the BB should be rejected.

As Paul Davies{and presumably anyone who supports BB} says to consider space as a piece of rubber that is expanding like a stretched balloon and that it's not the galaxies that are moving{matter by itself}, but the expansion of space carrying the galaxies apart.
Yes, that is the standard nonsense.

Now obviously that's an analogy, but I was under the impression that HE actually suggests that we can legitimately visualize such a happening, and if so, he'd be saying/reifing space, but not just by analogy, in reality and visually aided by the balloon analogy and presumably "confirmed" mathematically.

So is space expanding/unwinding just mathematically or actually?

Davies is not alone; cosmology is in an abysmal state, theoretically. (It is ironic since there is an almost literal explosion of physics data about the cosmos being ushered in with new technology.)

See my short post below.

**********************************************************

...

I disagree. The theory itself is an abomination, both philosophically and scientifically. We are not here talking about "difficult issues on matters of detail" but rather fundamental flaws which disqualify the theory from serious consideration. I cannot here list and describe the many dozens of substantial contradictions of the standard Big Bang theory, but I can at least highlight a few.

The most obvious contradiction is at the very heart of the theory, the notion of an expanding universe. The standard Big Bang theory does not say that the "universe" is expanding into some other part of existence, but rather that the expansion is of space itself. The usual analogy given--in both the technical and popular literature--is that of a balloon marked with a large number of dots on its surface. As the balloon inflates the distance between the dots increases, supposedly analogous to the increasing distance between galaxies in the expanding universe.

The analogy fails for several reasons, most importantly because as the surface expands the balloon itself expands into existing space; the universe is, all that is, and there is nothing into which the universe can expand. One not need be a physicist to discount such an absurd notion; indeed the notion of expanding space can be rejected on philosophical grounds alone. (Not even to mention that this supposed new space comes into existence already equipped with the necessary zero-point energy.)

Another devastating contradiction has to do with the observed existence of cosmological structures of such a scale as to require much more time to form than the supposed "age" of the Big Bang universe. When plasma physicist Eric Lerner, noted critic of the Big Bang theory, first proposed this age-scale notion in his book "The Big Bang Never Happened," he may have overlooked some facts which led him to the right conclusion, but without full justification. However, since the time of Lerner's criticism the largest known coherent structure in the universe has been identified, a supercluster of galaxies measuring some 600 million light-years across ("Celestial Zoo Gains Some Exotic Specimens," _Science_, 291, p. 578, 2001). This supercluster is at a distance of some 6.5 billion light-years away, and its existence cannot be accounted for so early in the cosmic history of the supposed Big Bang--more time than the "age of the universe" is required for this huge structure to have formed.

One more obvious silliness about the Big Bang theory is its endless positing of the existence of exotic yet unknown states of matter and energy in order to account for the observed discrepancies of what the theory would otherwise predict. Analysis of the recently announced Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which puts the "age" of the Big Bang universe at 13.7 billion years, identifies the atomic matter known to us as representing a scant 4% of the universe, with the remaining 96% consisting of supposed dark matter and dark energy. What this actually represents is a theory having failed to account for what is observed, manufacturing vast amounts of mythical unseen matter and energy in an attempt to make up for what the theory lacks in principle.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is incorrect to call the Big Bang theory "an example of good, rational science." Good and rational science does not contradict fundamental philosophical principles, nor does it manufacture myths to account for what it does not explain. There are so many adjustable parameters in the Big Bang theory that, like silly putty, it can be squeezed into virtually any shape required, while attempting to explain new observations. By contrast, good and rational science deals with fundamental principles which explain the nature of the entity being studied; for cosmology to make sense of the universe on the scale with which it deals, it must first reject the standard Big Bang theory.

**********************************************************

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Yes, that is the standard nonsense.

Ok thanks Stephen.

I intuitively suspected that space expanding was absurd, and knew it to be fundamental to the legitimacy of the theory, so I thought I'd sort that part out first.

I get the feeling you and objectivists in general, posit an eternal universe, treat that as a brute fact and move on from there?

I was wondering if you wouldn't mind answering yes/no to these quick questions, and we'll cover them in more depth in the future{if of any value to do so}.

1. Does a quark have any physical content?

2. If not, is it in anyway useful to particle physicists?

3. I assume that hyperspace has no physical content, but again curious if it has any value at all?

4. Does a Black hole have any physical content?

5. Considering that physics{theoretical at least} is relying on bizarrre thinking, do YOU suspect that other scientific disciplines have compromised the truth{coherent knowledge about some aspect of reality} because of metaphysical biases?

Btw, I have tremendous respect for science, but little for dogma.

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I get the feeling you and objectivists in general, posit an eternal universe, treat that as a brute fact and move on from there?

Essentially, yes.

I was wondering if you wouldn't mind answering yes/no to these quick questions, and we'll cover them in more depth in the future{if of any value to do so}.

1. Does a quark have any physical content?

2. If not, is it in anyway useful to particle physicists?

The quark model has been around now for four decades, and quantum chromodynamics is impressive enough to be taken seriously. There is a lot of experimental evidence for the effects of a quark model, but no one has ever observed a quark. A protective barrier was built and it was called quark confinement but, regardless, still, a quark has not been observed. Whether the model will eventually be understood to directly apply to reality, or whether the effects will be explained by a completely different theory, is something the future will tell. My bet is on a completely different theory, but do not take this as a criticism of the accomplishments of quantum chromodynamics, which is a marvelous achievement.

3. I assume that hyperspace has no physical content, but again curious if it has any value at all?

Only for mathematical fun.

4. Does a Black hole have any physical content?
There is growing observational evidence for certain effects of black holes, but that is not to say that those effects might not be better explained by a more reasonable astronomical phenomenon. But, regardless, certain essential characteristics of the postulated black hole, such as the central singularity guaranteed by the singularity theorems, may be safely discarded as bearing no relationship to physical realtiy.

5. Considering that physics{theoretical at least} is relying on bizarrre thinking, do YOU suspect that other scientific disciplines have compromised the truth{coherent knowledge about some aspect of reality} because of metaphysical biases?

I'm having trouble parsing this question. Perhaps you can ask the question in some other way.

Btw, I have tremendous respect for science, but little for dogma.

Me too.

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I'm having trouble parsing this question. Perhaps you can ask the question in some other way.

Thanks for your answers Stephen.

As for my other question, well it seems to me that the popularized view of modern cosmology is that the big bang model is fine and that theorectical physics{kantain mindset} is also a worthy pursuit, yet your view is the complete opposite, so I'm curious if other disciplines might be suspect, eg, orthodox medicine?

The $30 billion war on cancer was anounced in 1971, yet traditional medicine still has no cure.

It would seem to me that if our greatest science can be saturated with nonsense, then it seems quite reasonable to "assume" that other fields have they're own metaphysical peccadillo's, and that just as YOU and other independent scientists have determined superior truth, it would equally apply to other fields such as orthodox medicine.

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Thanks for your answers Stephen.

You're welcome.

As for my other question, well it seems to me that the popularized view of modern cosmology is that the big bang model is fine and that theorectical physics{kantain mindset} is also a worthy pursuit, yet your view is the complete opposite, so I'm curious if other disciplines might be suspect, eg, orthodox medicine?
In general, to the extent that the field of study is removed from direct contact with reality, to that extent it is more susceptible to rationalism. Fortunately, for physics, the so-called "theoreticians" are a rather small group, and the vast majority of physicists are in direct contact daily with the facts of reality. Even more so when it comes to biology and medicine.

The $30 billion war on cancer was anounced in 1971, yet traditional medicine still has no cure. It would seem to me that if our greatest science can be saturated with nonsense, then it seems quite reasonable to "assume" that other fields have they're own metaphysical peccadillo's, and that just as YOU and other independent scientists have determined superior truth, it would equally apply to other fields such as orthodox medicine.

Governmental appropriation of research and bureaucratic regulation are to blame. Not the researchers themselves.

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SS

Fortunately, for physics, the so-called "theoreticians" are a rather small group, and the vast majority of physicists are in direct contact daily with the facts of reality.
You're in a position to know, and I'm glad the bulk of researchers are properly informed, but you would accept that the popular view of theorectical physics is usually associated with the kantians?

This is curious, as it seems as though pure researchers have a privilege which somehow overides any concerns expressed by people such as yourself.

It's my assumption that the bulk of laypeople and non-objectivist are grappling with the ideas of modern cosmology, and DON'T think it's absurd, but rather that they haven't fully understood it, eg, KIR/Zetica* message boards are full of people backing the big bang, and the admin is a big bang freak.

*this is a popular science message board on ezboard.

Even more so when it comes to biology and medicine.

Without explaining it in this thread or within the next week{but within the coming months} I'll explain why cancer is a process and not a localized disease which must be removed surgically or chemically, as the body will remove it all itself given the right conditions, those conditions are maximum health, ie, the casual agent of "most" disease is the health status of the host.

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You're in a position to know, and I'm glad the bulk of researchers are properly informed, but you would accept that the popular view of theorectical physics is usually associated with the kantians?

Implicitly, not explicitly, and then mostly in quantum mechanics.

This is curious, as it seems as though pure researchers have a privilege which somehow overides any concerns expressed by people such as yourself.
Interestingly, at a high-enough level you encounter some theoreticians who are more willing to admit the inadequacies of the standard theories. Whereas the middle-level theoreticians are more staunchly conservative, I have spoken with several Nobel Laureates who are much more open and honest.

Without explaining it in this thread or within the next week{but within the coming months} I'll explain why cancer is a ...

Please do not expect me to participate in such a thread. Until security was finally tightened I used to get a new cancer cure deposited in my mailbox weekly. Now they just come by email. Nothing personal, but I simply do not have the interest or time to evaluate yet another cancer theory. You can call me "staunchly conservative" if you like. :D

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Stephen Speicher,

What's your position on plasma cosmology? I've only read a little bit into it, but it seems like a rational alternative to the big bang cosmology. (Not to mention, it seems to have been originated and most supported by plasma physicists and electrical engineers, who are definitely more reality-oriented than some theorical physicists)

Plasma Cosmology doesn't posit non-obeservable, non-existent, exotic entities such as "dark matter", "black holes", etc...Instead, the structure and formation of galaxies and stars, as well as a host of other cosmological phenomena are easily accounted for by the complex behavior and interaction of plasma through the eletromagnetic force. It also doesn't posit any "age" of the universe--it simply assumes that the universe has always existed.

Admittedly, I know nothing about electromagnetic field theory so this may be false. But it seems like its underlying assumptions are quite sound and rational, not to mentioned backed by facts.

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Please do not expect me to participate in such a thread.

No problem, I'll do the thread anyway, and you can laugh or apply the knowledge for your benefit.

I have to do other threads on critical thinking and what I call hardcore reductionism, ie, the exact reason why otherwise decent and clever doctors can reject the "alternative medicine" rubbish.

Keep up the good work anyway :D

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What's your position on plasma cosmology?

In general I am sympathetic to plasma cosmology, though primarily for their valid criticism of the standard theory. The early work of the originators, people like Alfven and Klein, has now been substantially refuted by observation, especially in regard to the CMBR (Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation). Likewise with the next generation; Don Melrose (currently head of the Research Centre for Astrophysics at Sydney, who was part of a radio debate with his colleague against myself and Lewis Little) wrote a two-volume set Plasma Astrophysics published in 1980 as a review of the field, and it was subject to much valid critiicsm.

But the new generation has been offerring more substantial arguments, along with some tantalizing models that seem to reflect structures in the cosmos in a much less ad hoc manner than the standard theory. I usually read a number of the papers emanating from this bunch, and I think that they have a number of good ideas, but their theories are still riddled with holes (and I do not mean black ones! :D ). Perhaps a brilliant thinker will come along and put that work on a better platform, but until that is done I remain skeptical, though intrigued.

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Guest jrshep

Since I mentioned on this thread that there was a song about "nothing" that I heard years ago (perhaps a couple or three times during a drive in Colorado, and only then), and liked for the play on the word, "nothing," I'll post it here even though it truly doesn't relate to the topic.

Of course, it would be more enjoyable listening to the actual song, but...

"Nothing" by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians (on their 1988 album, "Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars")

Are you in [a] bad mood?

Don't you wanna talk about it?

Did I say somethin' rude?

You don't have to cry about it.

Aren't you feelin' okay?

Would you like a little company?

Or did you have a bad day?

Are you mad at me? -- let it show

Don't tell me nothing -- I don't wanna know

There's nothing I hate more than nothing

Nothing keeps me up at night

I toss & turn over nothing

Nothing could cause a great BIG fight

Hey -- what's the matter?

Don't tell me nothing.

==================

Edited: Added an apparently missing "a." Lyrics from an online site, copied and pasted. Either there was a typo, or the "a" is only implied.

Edited by jrshep
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Steven, I thought more about what it was I was trying to say and realised that I was mistaken. I was subconsiously thinking in terms of a certain model of the universe, even though I actually knew that said model wasnt technically correct. I was essentially viewing the universe as consisting of lots of 'space', in which certain things existed (ie space was a primary). Saying that 'nothing' exists in a given region just meant that there would be no material things occupying that region of space (ie it would be completely empty). Obviously this presupposes a certain view of space which certainly can't be assumed a priori, and (as far as I know) is even invalidated by modern physics.

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Steven, I thought more about what it was I was trying to say and realised that I was mistaken. I was subconsiously thinking in terms of a certain model of the universe, even though I actually knew that said model wasnt technically correct. I was essentially viewing the universe as consisting of lots of 'space', in which certain things existed (ie space was a primary). Saying that 'nothing' exists in a given region just meant that there would be no material things occupying that region of space (ie it would be completely empty). Obviously this presupposes a certain view of space which certainly can't be assumed a priori, and (as far as I know) is even invalidated by modern physics.

Thanks for clarifying, even though I am not sure I follow. :dough:

But, anyway, the real culprit is the reification of space, a notion that causes endless trouble.

p.s. It is "Stephen," not "Steven."

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Stephen,

Gee, this is a real Seinfeld thread; "a thread about nothing", huh?

My husband is an MIT physics grad and a professor of optics. I'm just a computer science PhD with a common-sense viewpoint of physics. So, as you can imagine, we have our disagreements. If you've got the time, I wonder if you'd entertain a couple of questions?

1) I don't get what you mean about space not being empty anywhere. Isn't a vacuum an area that doesn't have anything in it, i.e. no atoms whatsoever?

2) What is your view of relativity? (while standing on one foot, please! :D ) From the little I have read about it, I come away with the impression that Einstein was right, but that many people who try to explain relativity end up making it sound nonsensical because of the way they word their explanations: "space-time is curved", or "time slows down if you're going near light-speed" for example.

A sensible person like me responds that space can't be curved, only STUFF can be curved, and space is NOT STUFF. Likewise time can't slow down, but EVENTS can happen faster or slower IN time (or at least appear to). So, is there a way to explain relativity in words without the "reification" of space or time that most people resort to?

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1)  I don't get what you mean about space not being empty anywhere.  Isn't a vacuum an area that doesn't have anything in it, i.e. no atoms whatsoever?

Bound any 3-dimensional area that you like, and specify as small a density of atoms as you like. Do you literally think that within that bounded area there is nothing where the atoms are not? If there was nothing in the separation between atoms then why would the atoms be separated? Would not the locations of the atoms just collapse between themselves? The philosophic idea of the plenum simply says that the universe is full, and it leaves it to physics to specify the detailed nature of that which fills the world. It would be proper, as a physicist, to say "I do not know the nature of that which exists where nothing else is," but it is not proper for a physicist to say that there is some bounded area within which, literally, nothing exists.

2)  What is your view of relativity?  (while standing on one foot, please! :D )  From the little I have read about it, I come away with the impression that Einstein was right, but that many people who try to explain relativity end up making it sound nonsensical because of the way they word their explanations: "space-time is curved", or "time slows down if you're going near light-speed" for example.
Einstein's relativity was a brilliant achievement, one of the great intellectual accomplishments of all time. While I agree that the wording "time slows down" is improper, I do not understand your concern about the curvature of spacetime. The spacetime manifold is a mathematical abstraction, not a physical existent, and curvature of the manifold is perfectly well defined.

A sensible person like me responds that space can't be curved, only STUFF can be curved, and space is NOT STUFF.

Yes, I agree with this. But here you speak about the curvature of space, not the curvature of spacetime. These are two different things.

Likewise time can't slow down, but EVENTS can happen faster or slower IN time (or at least appear to).
I think your correction suffers from the same lack of precision and physical meaning as the notion that you attempt to correct. Events do not happen "faster or slower IN time" any more than "time slows down." Nor is this an issue of appearances. Time is a relational concept, specifically a change in relationship, and in relativity the measurement process establishes a relationship between an observer and that being measured. That such measurements vary according to relative motion between the two is simply an objective fact of reality due to the means by which we make our measurements.

So, is there a way to explain relativity in words without the "reification" of space or time that most people resort to?

Yes. Both special and general relativity are given a proper physical base in a new quantum theory. Try Chapters 6 and 7 in Lewis Little's 1996 paper, available at http://www.yankee.us.com/TEW/

Should you want to discuss any details of the physics involved, there is an appropriate forum for such discussion that is pointed to on that site.

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If there was nothing in the separation between atoms then why would the atoms be separated? Would not the locations of the atoms just collapse between themselves?

Why?

(A1. For the same reason that they were separated when there was something, or, separation does not depend on the existence of some third object.

A2. No. Why would they? And what does that even mean?)

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