In the evening, my son just asked me what I was doing. I wasn’t doing anything in particular. I replied to him that I was doing nothing. He replied back how can anyone do nothing? He argued that nothing is no thing. I told him that there is difference between “nothing” and no thing or not anything. I then started thinking of nothing and blogged it.
As per wiki nothing is a pronoun denoting the absence of anything. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness. In nontechnical uses, nothing denotes things lacking importance, interest, value, relevance, or significance. Nothingness is the state of being nothing, the state of nonexistence of anything, or the property of having nothing.
The understanding of ‘nothing’ varies widely between cultures, especially between Western and Eastern cultures and philosophical traditions. For instance, shunyata (emptiness), unlike “nothingness”, is considered to be a state of mind in some forms of Buddhism (Nirvana). Achieving ‘nothing’ as a state of mind in this tradition allows one to be totally focused on a thought or activity at a level of intensity that they would not be able to achieve if they were consciously thinking. A classic example of this is an archer attempting to erase the mind and clear the thoughts to better focus on the shot. In some Eastern philosophies, the concept of “nothingness” is characterized by an egoless state of being in which one fully realizes one’s own small part in the cosmos.
Some authors have pointed to similarities between the Buddhist conception of nothingness and the ideas of Martin Heidegger and existentialists like Sartre, although this connection has not been explicitly made by the philosophers themselves.
It’s often said that you can’t get something from nothing. And while this may be true for most practical applications of your life, it isn’t true for our physical Universe. And I don’t just mean some tiny part of it; I mean all of it. When you take a look at the Universe out there, whether you’re looking at the wonders of this world or all that we can see for billions of light years, it’s hard not to wonder — at some point — where it all came from.
Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole Universe. All the Sun and the stars and the mountains and rivers and the good men and the bad men and the animals and the insects, the whole bit: all are contained in the void. So out of this void comes everything, and you’re it.
Thinking of nothingness in all seriousness also rekindled my almost forgotten knowledge of Quantum Mechanics, which I studied in university.
According to quantum theory, the vacuum contains neither matter nor energy, but it does contain fluctuations, transitions between something and nothing in which potential existence can be transformed into real existence by the addition of energy. (Energy and matter are equivalent, since all matter ultimately consists of packets of energy.) Thus, the vacuum’s totally empty space is actually a seething turmoil of creation and annihilation, which to the ordinary world appears calm because the scale of fluctuations in the vacuum is tiny and the fluctuations tend to cancel each other out.
In Physics “nothing” is generally taken to be the lowest energy state of a theory. We wouldn’t normally use the word “nothing” but instead describe the lowest energy state as the “vacuum”. Start with the classical description of an electric field (Maxwell’s equations). It’s not too hard to image an electric field as a field filling space. You can even feel the field: for example if you put your hand near an old style TV screen you can feel the static electricity. You can imagine turning down the electric field until it disappears completely, in which case you are left with the vacuum i.e. nothing.
Now imagine the same field, but this time we’re using the quantum description of the field (Quantum Electrodynamics instead of Maxell’s equations). At the classical level the field is approximately the same as the description Maxwell’s equations give, but now we have fluctuations in the field due to the energy-time uncertainty principle. Just as before, imagine turning down the electric field until it disappears. Unlike the classical description, the (average) electric field may disappear but the fluctuations do not. This means the quantum vacuum is different from the classical vacuum because it contains the fluctuations even after you’ve turned the field down to zero.
The key point is that when I say “turn the field down” I mean reduce the energy to the lowest it will go i.e. you can’t make the energy of the electric field any lower. By definition this is what we call the “vacuum” even though it isn’t empty (i.e. it contains the fluctuations). It isn’t possible to make the vacuum any emptier because the fluctuations are always present and you can’t remove them.
In the simplest terms if I start with zero apples and add one apple then eat that apple before you see it (and continuously add and subtract just as fast as they are added) that is what the word is being used for there was something but when you checked you got the answer of zero which is just what I started with (the base state) it is just an almost accurate description of a QED Vacuum
“The quantum theory asserts that a vacuum, even the most perfect vacuum devoid of any matter, is not really empty. Rather the quantum vacuum can be depicted as a sea of continuously appearing and disappearing [pairs of] particles that manifest themselves in the apparent jostling of particles that is quite distinct from their thermal motions. These particles are ‘virtual’, as opposed to real, particles. …At any given instant, the vacuum is full of such virtual pairs, which leave their signature behind, by affecting the energy levels of atoms.” ~ Joseph Silk On the shores of the unknown.
A perfect vacuum is itself only attainable in principle. It is an idealization, like absolute zero for temperature that can be approached, but never actually realized:
“One reason [a vacuum is not empty] is that the walls of a vacuum chamber emit light in the form of black-body radiation…If this soup of photons is in thermodynamic equilibrium with the walls, it can be said to have a particular temperature, as well as a pressure. Another reason that perfect vacuum is impossible is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states that no particles can ever have an exact position …Each atom exists as a probability function of space, which has a certain nonzero value everywhere in a given volume. …More fundamentally, quantum mechanics predicts …a correction to the energy called the zero-point energy [that] consists of energies of virtual particles that have a brief existence. This is called vacuum fluctuation.” ~ Luciano Boi, Creating the physical world ex nihilo?
When I say that I am doing nothing means I enjoying my nothingness ~ the space that is full of thoughts that have a brief existence like these virtual particles in quantum vacuum. At the end, I will just quote Nicholas Sparks from Message in a Bottle:
“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.”