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something from nothing

by 'lipse (no login)

The fixed idea that energy cannot "appear from nothing" is a part of classical physics. We know now that energy does appear from "empty space" all the time in the form of "vacuum fluctiations". According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP), energy and time are conjugate properties. The more accurately you know a span of time of a measurement, the less accurately you can know the energy. So, over short periods of time, the energy of a system is always constantly changing, borrowing some energy from the universe and paying it back later. We know now that even "empty space" isn't really empty. Not just because there may be some loose particles or photons moving through it here and there, but because the concept of "empty space" really can't exist. To assume the concept of "empty space" you have to assume there can be zero energy at all times, but since energy and time are conjugate properties the HUP says there can't exist a perfectly empty section of space because energy and time cannot both have definite values. Space must undergo vacuum fluctuations (this has been confirmed by experiment).

"In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion." - Davies

Some have even conjectured that all the matter and energy we see in our world today is the result of a very large (and very rare) vacuum fluctuation.

"There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty [five] zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero." - Hawking

Posted on Oct 13, 2005, 2:43 PM

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Response TitleAuthor and Date
That's an interresting theory 'lispe on Oct 13
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? on Oct 14
 Re: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?'lipse on Oct 14

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