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Matter, Contact and Reality

Reader comment on item: Musing on History
in response to reader comment: yes - big differences

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Jul 8, 2015 at 05:57

Hi, Waz

It actually says 'in a vacuum'. A vacuum is where no matter exists. So 'virtual' particles popping into 'reality' - essentially from nothing , is

This is just a play with the words "matter" and "reality". You and I know that "reality" is subjective, happening in our minds without any actual "contact" with the world around us. It's all happening in our unlit brains that have no actual feeling. It's a shared subjective experience that we share with one another through communication. Matter, as far as we know it, is a mathematical construct of wavicles. It has no real "surface", but rather simply diminishing force fields around it. Those fields are nonzero, out to infinity; so in effect, there is no such thing as a "vacuum". We like to think things are "real", when we can detect their force fields ("touch" them). The operating word here is "think".

Physical phenomena can be described, or at least closely approximated, by mathematical relationships. Sometimes the parameter at a certain point (or string, as your bent might be) is "zero". That doesn't mean nothing "exists" at that point, What "exists" is the mathematical expression which, when nonzero, seems to manifest some sort of reality to an observer. Without the mathematical relationship, nothing would exist at the point in question, nor at any point. It's that relationship that is fundamental; its manifestations, either as matter, energy or something else, are derived from it.

The bottom line is that we cannot get "something" from "nothing". "Things" can interconvert: matter, for instance, can interconvert with energy. When it's in its energy form, is there "nothing" there because there is no matter there? You are correct, that matter can seem to appear spontaneously; but you didn't say "absence of matter": you said "nothing", so I disagreed with what you said.

The Bible says that the things we see have been created by things we do not see. It says we understand these things not by observation (obviously), but by faith. This is where the scientist walks in ignorance: He does not believe (Yes, scientists are bound by faith, just like the rest of us) something is "real" if he cannot physically "see" it. The Bible believer, on the other hand, acknowledges the limitations of his senses in these matters.

PS. Discontinuous functions come to mind, and undefined points. Sometimes, those functions and points describe physical phenomena. Wavefunctions also have "imaginary components", which must be accounted for in calculations. In that sense, they are "real" in an unseen dimension. As another example, we know the probability density of an electron is evenly divided between the two lobes of a "p" orbital; yet it has zero possibility of existing on the interlobal plane. Half the time, it's likely to be in one lobe, and half the time it's likely to be in the other; but it doesn't "disappear" from one lobe to "appear" in the other. Likewise, objects moving at the speed of light appear to have infinite mass and zero length in the direction of travel. That describes how the object "appears" from a separated inertial reference point; yet an observer on the moving object would sense no anomaly.

The finite, perceived world we live in (or seem to live in, as much as our minds are able to see such things), is full of peculiar things. The ancients didn't even understand that the air we breathe is a form of matter, akin to solid and liquid forms of matter. Likewise, the transporting of water from the ocean to the clouds was a great mystery. In the Vietnamese language, the word for "air" and the word for "nothing" are one and the same word. The word also means "no" and "not", and is used to indicate a question; yet we know that air is not "nothing". In the Bible, likewise, the word which we translate as "spirit" is the same as that for "wind" in Hebrew, and for "breath" in Greek; but it treats wind, breath and spirit all as equally real.

The Big Bang theory contains the interesting hypothetical concept of a "singularity", of exceedingly small dimensions yet incredible mass. That, so the theory goes, is ultimately where all of space comes from, even the "vacuums". Envisioning the known universe in this way, one obviously cannot get "something" from nothing: All things appear to come from the singularity, which is definitely "something".

I don't have room to expound much here on the matter; but God is described in the Book of Revelation as fiery object that in my mind's eye resembles a xray image of the sun; yet He is described in terms of rocks and precious stones. This has a curious kinship with the "singularity"; but I will add that everything in the vision John saw can be thought of as "words", not material objects. They appeared four-dimensional to John, though we are used to reading words in two dimensions. Nevertheless, they are words: They are allegorical, describing things (such as an infinite, omnipresent God) that cannot be "physically" observed -- even in "spiritual" or "heavenly" physics.

Lots of words, to say not so much. God bless and keep you.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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