# Nothing = Energy?

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Discussion by: Jigger

Just watched a lecture by L. Krauss on 'A Universe From Nothing'. In the lecture he claims that all the math that defines the universe can be reduced to zero. Maybe I heard it wrong because then he said that the zero equals energy and quantum fluctuations. How does energy equal nothing?

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### OPEN DISCUSSION

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1. I always took the simplistic view that a vibrating string has a node and an anti-node which, when added together = 0. So that’s my idea of What Krauss was talking about.

2. Easy. Well…not really easy. 6 or 7 years of studying physics/cosmology should illuminate it further beyond listening to that lecture…It’s about the balance of energy but my degree in biology leaves me not-so-uniquely unqualified to expound any further.

3. I didn’t hear that lecture, but my guess what he meant is the net sum energy of the universe is zero. Gravity is negative potential energy and that can have an equivalent and negative value of all the positive energy in the universe that you are familiar with thus the sum of all energy of the universe is or could be zero.

4. Hi Jigger,

Just watched a lecture by L. Krauss on ‘A Universe From Nothing’.

Maybe I heard it wrong …

We have this new thing now: Rewind.

How does energy equal nothing?

That depends on your definition of nothing.

Peace.

5. It’s a bit like a business which has a debts and a bank loan of \$200,000 and has assets worth \$200,000. It has a book value of nothing, but is still operating!

If atoms of matter meet atoms of anti-matter they combine to = nothing!

6. In reply to #4 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

Hi Jigger,

Just watched a lecture by L. Krauss on ‘A Universe From Nothing’.

I just took it for granted that anyone coming to this site would already know something along these lines. I’ve seen the ‘something from nothing’ idea several times, but I’ve never actually heard a physicist spell it out as Krauss did. Here is the link, and I believe he starts describing it at 21:15.

7. The main thing is a particle and anti-particle can pop into being as a quantum fluctuation. If this happens near a black hole, one of the pair can get sucked into the black hole. That leaves the puzzle, why do we live in a world of predominantly matter rather that anti-matter.

My guess is normal intuition boggles. We can understand the math, but end up doing a lot of handwaving when trying to come up with an intuitive model.

I studied math at university. I was always asking my profs for a rough intuitive model or some examples. They would scold me. These would not help understanding. The intuition would lead me astray. I had to learn to think abstractly without any sort of intuitive model. Physics might be the same way. The understanding is just the mathematical formulae.

8. I urge you to read Krauss’s excellent book. It explains the matter in lay terms very nicely.

9. Lets say you have two locomotives attached to a strong cable and pulling in opposite directions with equal force. A lot of force is involved, but if the two locomotives are pulling with the exact same force in opposite directions the overall forces acting on the cable are zero and it won’t move.

Similarly, you “add up” all the energy, gravity, etc… in the known universe it all appears to cancel out and you end up with a “flat” universe. So there are many forces acting, many things moving about, a lot of energy pouring out of stars, but if you “add” it all up it cancels out. If there was a surplus of energy you would expect the universe to expand forever and end as a tenuous mist of hydrogen. If there is a deficit of energy then gravity will pull everything together and the universe ends in a big black hole. If “flat” then the universe slowly stops expanding and settles down to a static configuration (it sows so slowly that it never quite stops expanding).

Our current best knowledge of the universe is that it is flat to within an 0.4% error of margin. As everything in the universe “cancels out” it is theoretically possible that the universe arose from “nothing”. This nothing is just very active right now.

Think of it like a bank that has loaned out a million different loans, all of different sizes, and has a million deposits, all of different sizes and the loans and deposits all add up to a zero balance. The bank could have started out with nothing, no money, and reached this state.

10. Once illusion-based statements become accepted by the masses or by an educational discipline, it becomes a fact regardless of the empirical data that disproves the statement. It can take generations of mobile advocates to indoctrinate the empirical data. Religion and science are two examples of illusion-based education.

11. In reply to #7 by Roedy:

I had to learn to think abstractly without any sort of intuitive model. Physics might be the same way. The understanding is just the mathematical formulae.

For my topic here it’s not a matter of thinking in the abstract. I just take issue with science using the word ‘Nothing’ to describe something other than zero. Zero, or ‘Nothing’ is not a matter of energies balancing each other on some cosmic scale. I don’t know, call it a Fulcrum point or a balancing act, but don’t called it ‘Nothing or Zero’. Just my opinion.

12. At the risk of sounding a completely stupid, im not a scientist let alone a physicist but why not think of it as everything (potential) and nothing?

If the net sum of energy is both + and – and forms a balance of 0
0 would be = to everything and nothing (…or not?)

Also it would not be a surprise to see the so called fine tuning of the universe when it really just means the physicist are right, they are talking about “our universe” everything in it including the earth and life. Fine tuning confirms the physical constants are right and they should be because they are describing our universe and everything in it…

maybe?? I could be way off, its interesting even if you have to struggle to understand but ive imagined the universe began from some instable state since I was young (could be the enuma elish story though)

13. In reply to #11 by Jigger:

For my topic here it’s not a matter of thinking in the abstract. I just take issue with science using the word ‘Nothing’ to describe something other than zero.

1 + (-1) = 0; nothing, zero. In QM; 0 ==> 1 + (-1). The point is the net sum of the energy of the universe is zero. From empty “space” (zero energy), it’s entirely possible to extract a universe where the energy balances out. It appears we live in such a universe. I’m not sure what you have to take issue with other than the fact that the quantum field may indeed may be considered “something”, however, Krauss addresses this in his book. Perhaps you should read it.

14. Jigger, are you telling me/us that you put this discussion topic forward to the powers that be for posting before actually reading the book written by L. Krauss entitled ‘A Universe From Nothing’? Well ‘strewth! How did this get passed the moderators?

In other news, Christian apologists are coming on this site to assert wild speculations about the contents of the bible without actually reading a bible….any version of it.

Who’d have thought such a thing could occur on a site for reason and science? I kid you not. }80)~

15. No, No. NO! You cannot say that the universe started from nothing if there was a 1 involved. 1 is SOMETHING! It doesn’t matter if it was cancelled out in any way shape or form. If that 1 was there, then it’s not nothing.

In reply to #13 by Skeptic:

In reply to #11 by Jigger:

For my topic here it’s not a matter of thinking in the abstract. I just take issue with science using the word ‘Nothing’ to describe something other than zero.

1 + (-1) = 0; nothing, zero. In QM; 0 ==> 1 + (-1). The point is the net sum of the energy of the universe is…

16. In reply to #15 by Jigger:

No, No. NO! You cannot say that the universe started from nothing if there was a 1 involved. 1 is SOMETHING! It doesn’t matter if it was cancelled out in any way shape or form. If that 1 was there, then it’s not nothing.

17. The writings of Krauss bear a remarkable similarity to those of creationists and others of a religious bent. In both cases rationality is subsumed to an ideology and sometimes , as is the case here, scientific ideas are misrepresented to provide an aura of respectability to the author’s entrenched beliefs. Krauss, just as those in the opposite camp, starts with a firm acceptance of the atheistic doctrine and, from there, patches in scientific-sounding explanations to fit.
The fact that Krauss is a professional theoretical physicist is of no consequence. All disciplines have their share of crazies. The paper published a little while by Eric Andrulis is a classic example.

For the empiricist, “nothing” is a phenomenon that has never been observed and is incompatible with the big picture provided by all that we have observed, Our well-evidenced, if incomplete, model of the universe is that of a continuum of fields, be they energetic or material manifestations. That view is shared by the vast majority of physicists.

Our best-evidenced cosmological model is Einstein’s relativity.Which uses the concept of a space-time continuum.A continuum implies that no part truly corresponds to our notion of “nothing”The “vacuum” of space is only a vacuum in the earlier sense of a lack of atoms or molecules.There is little doubt that between these we still have “fields” electromagnetic, gravitational, etc.

Even the quantum mechanical aspect seems not to suggest any “nothingness”. Granularity, perhaps, but no “nothing ” is to be found there either.We have not a shred of evidence that our idea of “nothing” has any basis in reality.
The principle of parsimony would therefore suggest that our universe came from “something”.Perhaps a budding off from a wider entity? No one can really say!

Until evidence is produced to support the concept, “nothing” must remain in the same category as deities, ghosts, hobgoblins and the Easter Bunny. Certainly not within the domain of science.

Krauss’s other main thrust, here, concerns the notions of “purpose” and “design”, which at first glance do give theists one evidential straw to clutch at that is not entirely illusory.
That is the increasingly apparent “fine tuning” of our universe. The greatest indications of which are to be found in chemistry and biology rather than the much vaunted physical parameters.
But the common misconception that “fine tuning of the universe for life” implies the existence of some kind of “creator” or designer is seriously flawed.
In fact nothing could be further from the truth, so Krauss has no need to feel threatened on this count.

There is certainly a great wealth of evidence of seemingly inevitable directionality and “just right” conditions to be found downstream of the usually quoted dimensionless physical parameters, especially in such areas as geology, chemistry and biology.
Most clearly observed in the way in which the the properties and timely abundances of the chemical elements and their compounds not only have allowed, but have made virtually inevitable the observed evolution of technology in the medium of the collective imagination of our species.

This persistent and pervasive pattern is not to be ignored or swept under the mat by the very unparsimonious artifice of positing multiverses with infinitely varying physical properties.
Nor does it require for interpretation “intelligent design” which is essentially a notion derived from the hearsay of superstitious mythology.
A broad evolutionary model of the kind outlined in “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” will suffice to account for these patterns on a straightforward empirical basis. At the expense of swallowing a few human conceits!
It is available as free download in e-book formats from my “Unusual Perspectives” website

18. In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

If atoms of matter meet atoms of anti-matter they combine to = nothing!

Au contraire, Alan. If matter and antimatter combine, energy is produced, not “nothing”

19. In reply to #17 by Cognosium:

The writings of Krauss bear a remarkable similarity to those of creationists and others of a religious bent. In both cases rationality is subsumed to an ideology and sometimes , as is the case here, scientific ideas are misrepresented to provide an aura of respectability to the author’s entrenched beliefs. Krauss, just as those in the opposite camp, starts with a firm acceptance of the atheistic doctrine and, from there, patches in scientific-sounding explanations to fit.

Codswollop. Krauss provides an cosmological hypothesis with data that offers support to his model, creationists provide a story book with absolutely no substance other than the ramblings of people who knew no better.

You will need to detail just what you mean by, “…scientific ideas are misrepresented to provide an aura of respectability to the author’s entrenched beliefs” if you want to be taken seriously.

The fact that Krauss is a professional theoretical physicist is of no consequence.

See what you said there…professional “theoretical” physicist…there’s a bit of a clue in that title.

All disciplines have their share of crazies. The paper published a little while by Eric Andrulis is a classic example.

So your assertion is that Lawrence Krauss is a “crazy”?

For the empiricist, “nothing” is a phenomenon that has never been observed and is incompatible with the big picture provided by all that we have observed, Our well-evidenced, if incomplete, model of the universe is that of a continuum of fields, be they energetic or material manifestations. That view is shared by the vast majority of physicists.

Well, I don’t know what the “vast majority” of physicists view is, and it matters not, as at the moment there are only hypotheses…some more worthy of consideration than others I grant you, but that is not the issue of the OP question. A misunderstanding of Krauss’ hypothesis is the issue at hand, not it’s veracity.

BTW, it was less than a century ago that many physicists supported the Steady State Theory of the Universe, a few centuries before that and it was the Geocentric Theory of the Solar System, a while before that it was the Flat Earth Theory of the planet…before that there was a common belief that the night sky was a big dome called the firmament with pin holes in it that allowed the veiled sunlight through.

Edwin Hubble went to his grave in defiance of the mounting evidence against his theory…but he wasn’t considered a “crazy” for it.

Our best-evidenced cosmological model is Einstein’s relativity.Which uses the concept of a space-time continuum.A continuum implies that no part truly corresponds to our notion of “nothing”The “vacuum” of space is only a vacuum in the earlier sense of a lack of atoms or molecules.There is little doubt that between these we still have “fields” electromagnetic, gravitational, etc.

What has this got to do with the OP?

Even the quantum mechanical aspect seems not to suggest any “nothingness”. Granularity, perhaps, but no “nothing ” is to be found there either.We have not a shred of evidence that our idea of “nothing” has any basis in reality. The principle of parsimony would therefore suggest that our universe came from “something”.Perhaps a budding off from a wider entity? No one can really say!

Hmmmm! I think you mean, “anyone can say what they want, but nobody knows…yet”.

Until evidence is produced to support the concept, “nothing” must remain in the same category as deities, ghosts, hobgoblins and the Easter Bunny. Certainly not within the domain of science.

What evidence would you accept? It is more about the definition of “nothing” is it not?

Krauss has formulated a model in which the universe could have potentially come from “nothing”, as outlined in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing. As his model agrees with experimental observation such as the shape of the universe and the energy density of the universe, it is referred to as a “plausible hypothesis”.

You can argue one theory against another all day long…perhaps you can post a discussion piece of your own and have a conflab on the subject with other physicists and the well versed on the subject that contribute here. That is a different subject to what is being discussed here. We are not debating opposing theories, it is the details of a particular theory that is the focus.

By associating Lawrence Krauss as being a “crazy”, you have all but negated your opinion.

The question being asked is, “How does energy equal nothing?”, as proposed in the theory of a Universe from Nothing.

The issue is what does “nothing” mean in this proposition, the philosophical nothing or the scientific nothing? I think the later is the issue and to some, like me, it is hard to grasp as a concept.

I look forward to your explanations on the questions I’ve posited, and your reasons why.

20. Hi Jigger,

… it’s not a matter of thinking in the abstract. I just take issue with science using the word ‘Nothing’ to describe something other than zero.

Why? Do you own the copyright on ‘Nothing’?

1 is SOMETHING! It doesn’t matter if it was cancelled out in any way shape or form. If that 1 was there, then it’s not nothing.

In a Physicist’s definition nothing must mean something. To talk of literally nothing (your definition) leaves us nothing to talk about. If nothing really exists … there is nothing to say about nothing, because it is … nothing …

You cannot say that the universe started from nothing if there was a 1 involved.

Okay, there was a 1 involved.

This is the nub of Lawrence Krauss’s argument: In order to argue for a Universe that started from ‘nothing’ (this one, or any other) we cannot say that it started from nothing without first defining our ‘nothing’.

Physicists are like that, they’re not theologians, they ask for evidence of the ‘nothing’ and if there’s no evidence then there is literally nothing – at which point we can say that we have nothing to say because nothing IS nothing.

When (if) theologians say that it is possible to produce a universe from literally nothing (from zero) they are presenting a case with is oxymoronic – and automatically self-refuting – because to argue from nothing is literally to say nothing about nothing which means nothing and that can only lead to nothing. It’s a nothing argument.

It may be possible for us to think that we can imagine nothing (though if we imagine it, it exist as a pattern in our brain chemistry, so it’s not really nothing) and, if we can imagine it, that it might exist. This is clearly nonsense. I can imagine Catherine Zeta Jones leaving her husband for me. In my dreams.

My imagination, it has been proved many, many, times can deceive me. Perhaps your imagination is different, perhaps your every thought sees the World clearly and distinctly and you never imagine anything which isn’t immediately confirmed. Next time you read a good work of fiction you really must ask me round.

That leaves us with the classic theologians’ question: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Answer: Because the alternative is, literally, nothing.

That may not be a very satisfactory answer to you. Join the Club. In my dreams I win the Lottery on a regular basis – but I still haven’t. Now that’s real disappointment.

Peace.

21. Think about this in terms of economics. The universe borrows against futures which will never pan out. Ultimately everything balances out at zero.

22. Krauss’ Hypothesis is based on the observation of “virtual particles” at a subatomic level.
These are matched pairs of particles; 1 electron and 1 positron that appear out of the quantum foam. The rules of this are derived from the Dirac Equation which describes the fine structure of the Hydrogen absorption spectrum.

The positron will move on a collision course with another electron which then annihilate each other releasing energy proportional to the relative velocity of each particle at point of impact.

This is then extrapolated to provide an explanation of Dark Energy which permeates the empty space between galactic superclusters. Krauss then goes on propose a pair of virtual particles appearing immediately prior to the Big-Bang. These annihilate each other in no space and no time, therefore relative velocity is infinite, releasing infinite energy. +ve energy = -ve enregy thus total energy released = 0 but with a bias towards matter at aprox. 1 part per billion.

23. In reply to #10 by Stan Antoniuk:

Once illusion-based statements become accepted by the masses or by an educational discipline, it becomes a fact regardless of the empirical data that disproves the statement. It can take generations of mobile advocates to indoctrinate the empirical data. Religion and science are two examples of ill…

What evidence do you have that science is based on illusions? The computer you used to post your message is a product of science. Your computer is not an illusion. We’ve eradicated a few diseases and made other very rare using vaccines. This is not an illusion, it is science. Most people practice basic sanitation because it reduces the amount of disease in the community. This was discovered by science.

Religion and science are very close to being polar opposites. Religions says “this is the truth,accept it on faith, do not question it, do not ask for evidence, and ignore the evidence that contradicts it”. Science says “I have an idea, lets test it and see if I’m right. Please question what I say and look for evidence that might refute my idea.”

There are some parts of scientific knowledge that are settled. Pretty much everything in the everyday world is very well known. No one expects the sun will every rise in the west.

24. In reply to #17 by Cognosium:

The writings of Krauss bear a remarkable similarity to those of creationists and others of a religious bent. In both cases rationality is subsumed to an ideology and sometimes , as is the case here, scientific ideas are misrepresented to provide an aura of respectability to the author’s entrenched…

I’d hardly call a universe where 99.99999% will kill me in ten seconds “just right”.

Krauss is not using a definition of “nothing” that most people use in everyday life. You have grossly characterized his writings.

25. Aha! I got it. How to get something from nothing (taken as mathematical zero): divide by it. As we know, anything divided by nothing is infinite. And if the anything is also nothing we get 0/0 which could be anything. So we get anything from nothing.

Aha, you object – that wasn’t from nothing, there was a divide in there as well. Where did that divide come from? It isn’t nothing.

No use trying this on your computer, though. It just refuses on the grounds that dividing anything by zero is beneath its dignity.

Why something from nothing? When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. (As some song said)

Silly discussion this, it shows what happens when mathematical concepts get out into the wild. I did like the comment that contained all those nothings.

By the way, I’m completely comfortable with the notion that the sum of all energy in the universe is zero, where energy includes all matter via Einstein’s famous equation. Otherwise it would end up being 42 (in some yet-to-be defined units, which I predict would be named Adams. Or maybe Duggies).

26. Just about everyone here has pointed out 0 can split into nonzero pieces, but a few people also mentioned ‘nothing’ is ambiguous. Indeed, which state for space counts as ’empty’ depends on space’s shape. In fact, there’s an effect wherein particles appear because space changes shape, so that its state no longer fits the revised definition of empty space. One example of this is cosmological particle creation, the case due to a change in the shape of the universe.

27. In reply to #21 by Peter Grant:

Think about this in terms of economics. The universe borrows against futures which will never pan out. Ultimately everything balances out at zero.

In terms of STARTING from nothing then economics cannot be an example. Let’s agree that space can exist with nothing in it (though it really cannot). In the universe we live in we, and everything else, moves through space through acts of displacement and replacement. When I walk I am displacing air out of its location in front of me and replacing it with my body. Behind me, air is filling in the spaces that I previously occupied. If I am in water then I trade places with the water as I move through it, and water fills in the spaces I left behind.

Now imagine popping into a space of absolute nothing. If you move forward (which you cannot), what will fill in the space that you previously occupied? A hunk of nothing can’t fill in that space. It’s NOTHING! And, you cannot push nothing out of the way in order for you to move forward. You would be completely and utterly stuck like a fly caught in amber.

So, if the universe had ever been in a true state of absolute nothing it would remain that way forever. Since this state of absolute nothing is impossible, then by default there had to always have been something. That something is energy, and energy is not nothing.

28. In reply to #29 by Jigger:

In terms of STARTING from nothing then economics cannot be an example.

It was a joke. Just imagine the increasingly rapidly expanding universe moves you away from your investors faster than the speed of light 😀

29. In reply to #27 by Promethean Entity:

Energy. What is it?

Energy is the substance by which all things are made. This proves that energy plus negative energy does not equal out to zero. It equals out to ONE. If the energies cancelled each other out to zero we, and the whole universe as we know it, wouldn’t exist. Those primal energies balance each other into a state of one. One universe.

30. In reply to #26 by Quine:

Jigger, you should check out the previous threads, here, to get the background. Start with The Flavors of Nothing.

Yeah, I checked out the clip in that thread. I don’t think Krauss is really hearing what he’s saying. He’s saying that empty space is “a boiling bubbly brew of particles popping in and out of existence”.

How could this ever be confused with a state of nothing? It’s like saying that a full gallon of milk is empty, but it’s full of milk. And that’s insane. lol

31. In reply to #14 by Ignorant Amos:

Jigger, are you telling me/us that you put this discussion topic forward to the powers that be for posting before actually reading the book written by L. Krauss entitled ‘A Universe From Nothing’? Well ‘strewth! How did this get passed the moderators?

In other news, Christian apologists are coming…

What a baby. Instead of focusing on the topic of me actually watching Krauss’s documentary where I ‘HEARD’ him say it (not just words on paper) you waste my time whining instead of offering some intellectual insight. Go away somewhere and grow up.

32. In reply to #1 by A3Kr0n:

I always took the simplistic view that a vibrating string has a node and an anti-node which, when added together = 0. So that’s my idea of What Krauss was talking about.

Doesn’t your brain scream how wrong this must be? Call them nodes, call them strings, call it plain old energy…if whatever it is cancels each other out, this universe wouldn’t exist. If, however, we accept that there was always something then we have to start at ‘1’ and not ‘0’. This way when all the positive somethings cancel out all the negative somethings we always end up with ‘1’. one universe, or one particle, or one wave… What ever that one thing is, it can never be reduced to zero. We know this because we can’t take something and destroy it to the point where it becomes nothing. There is no such thing as nothing.

33. In reply to #32 by Jigger:

Yeah, I checked out the clip in that thread. I don’t think Krauss is really hearing what he’s saying. He’s saying that empty space is “a boiling bubbly brew of particles popping in and out of existence”.

There is no such thing as “empty space” anywhere in the universe! Interplanetary space contains photons, gravity, and magnetism.. Interstellar space contains radiation and gravity. “Empty” space as never been detected anywhere!

34. In reply to #36 by Alan4discussion:

In reply to #32 by Jigger:

Yeah, I checked out the clip in that thread. I don’t think Krauss is really hearing what he’s saying. He’s saying that empty space is “a boiling bubbly brew of particles popping in and out of existence”.

There is no such thing as “empty space” anywhere in the universe!…

LOL I couldn’t agree more, but don’t tell me. Tell Krauss. LOLOLOL

35. There’s no such thing as nothing. There’s no perfect vacuum, you just don’t know yet what this “nothing”; which is something; truly is. Dark energy, dark matter, both? All we know is that all existence is just masses of energy of different complexities.

36. That’s not really what he was saying. What he was saying is a little more complicated. He’s really talking about the fact that ‘nothing’ is impossible. This isn’t the old philosophical chestnut of ‘nothing’ having no properties, it’s the impossibility of ‘nothing’ having any persistence. Let me try to explain:

In Quantum Mechanics, there are pairs of properties for which the values cannot simultaneously be known, as a result of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (HUP). The really well-known example of such a pair is the position and velocity of a particle. This is to say that we cannot simultaneously know both the position AND the velocity of a particle with arbitrary precision. Any such pair of values is known to physicists as ‘complementary variables’. There are many pairs of complementary variables. One such pair is the value (position) and rate of change (velocity) of a field.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about what ‘nothing’ really is from a quantum-mechanical perspective, namely a zero field. Clearly, this violates HUP, as it describes a field whose value (position) and rate of change (velocity) can simultaneously be known with arbitrary precision, because both would be zero.

It should be noted that, although Einstein and others violently disliked this, and insisted that this uncertainty must be a feature of some ‘hidden variables’ or some limitation of our ability to measure, all objections have been ruled out. This is really the way the universe works.

Coming back to Kraus, what he’s really saying is not that ‘nothing’ is energy, but that ‘nothing’ is prohibited. It’s an impossible state, or at least it’s impossible for such a state to persist for anything but a fleeting moment (indeed, it is suggested that such a state cannot persist for longer than a Planck second (10^-35 seconds).

Frank Wilczek dealt with this at some length in dealing with the old philosophical question of why there is something rather than nothing, and summed it up in the phrase ”nothing’ is unstable’.

As for the assertion that the energy of the universe reduces to zero, this isn’t Krauss’ original work, but actually stems from work by Hawking, among others, that suggests that the negative energy of gravity and the positive energy of all the matter, dark and normal, and the dark energy of the universe actually cancel each other out. This leaves us with a net energy for the universe of zero.

37. In reply to #27 by Promethean Entity:

Energy. What is it?

In physics, energy is simply the ability to perform work. Work, properly treated (in the thermodynamic sense), reduces to the equalisation of differentials.

38. In reply to #17 by Cognosium:

The writings of Krauss bear a remarkable similarity to those of creationists and others of a religious bent. In both cases rationality is subsumed to an ideology and sometimes , as is the case here, scientific ideas are misrepresented to provide an aura of respectability to the author’s entrenched…

Ah, vanity press and apologetics combined. Always a potent combination, and utterly useless.

39. In reply to #18 by Cognosium:

In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

If atoms of matter meet atoms of anti-matter they combine to = nothing!

Au contraire, Alan. If matter and antimatter combine, energy is produced, not “nothing”

No. When a particle and an anti-particle meet, there is annihilation. Nothing remains of either.

40. In reply to #43 by hackenslash:

In reply to #18 by Cognosium:

In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

If atoms of matter meet atoms of anti-matter they combine to = nothing!

Au contraire, Alan. If matter and antimatter combine, energy is produced, not “nothing”

No. When a particle and an anti-particle meet, there is annihilation….

It would help this thread if folks would take a moment and look at what physicists mean by the word annihilation in this context. This is very well known because accelerators have been slamming particles into antiparticles for many decades. Mass may disappear for an extremely brief moment, but energy does not, and quickly forms new particles that, as a group, balance out the conservation equations.

41. In reply to #32 by Jigger:

In reply to #26 by Quine:

Jigger, you should check out the previous threads, here, to get the background. Start with The Flavors of Nothing.

Yeah, I checked out the clip in that thread.

42. In reply to #44 by Quine:

In reply to #43 by hackenslash:
It would help this thread if folks would take a moment and look at what physicists mean by the word annihilation in this context. This is >very well known because accelerators have been slamming particles into antiparticles for many decades. Mass may disappear for an >extremely brief moment, but energy does not, and quickly forms new particles that, as a group, balance out the conservation equations.

You’re correct, in that it would help if people would bother to learn what physicists actually say on the topic, rather than holding forth on topics they’re ignorant of. The key word here is ‘annihilation’, which has at its root ‘nihil’, meaning ‘nothing’.

When a particle and an anti-particle annihilate, nothing remains of either. This is precisely because they cancel. The reason that energy is conserved in this scenario is that there wasn’t anything to begin with. This is entirely the point that Krauss is making in his lecture/book. What actually exists is a differential, which is cancelled in annihilation. After annihilation, nothing remains. The clue is in the word.

Thank you for playing.

43. In reply to #44 by Quine:

In reply to #43 by hackenslash:

It should also be pointed out, just for the sake of elucidating just how idiotic your contention is, that mass and energy are actually the same thing. This is the entire meaning of Einstein’s famous equation. The distinction you’re attempting to draw here doesn’t exist, and your attempt to draw it highlights only your ignorance of what the valid physics actually says.

Next time you try to correct somebody who patently knows more than you, at least make your ignorance obscure. You should have been warned about me.

44. In reply to #46 by hackenslash:

When a particle and an anti-particle annihilate, nothing remains of either. This is precisely because they cancel. The reason that energy is conserved in this scenario is that there wasn’t anything to begin with. This is entirely the point that Krauss is making in his lecture/book.

You seem to have a deep misunderstanding of the nature of the matter/anti-matter relationship, and that last statement makes me think that you have not read Dr. Krauss’s book, at all, or viewed the full lecture. All matter and anti-matter have rest mass that can be considered as patterned or bound-up energy according to Einstein’s famous equation. Be it matter or anti-matter, the energy bound up in rest mass is considered a positive energy value, and so is additive in an annihilation event. It is the bonding of energy in mass that is canceled, not the energy involved. It is not reliable to try to guess the meanings of words used by physicists (more of whom started out in school as math majors than language majors) by looking at the parts (just try to figure out an “up quark“). It is better to look up the actual definitions in context.

The energy in a particle/anti-particle collision is the sum of the rest mass energy plus the kinetic energy (½ velocity² times the relativistic mass) of each. The energies are all positive, and so is the magnitude value of the momentum that has to be conserved as a vector quantity. Photons are their own anti-particle but because they have no energy bound as mass, nothing happens when they collide. Your concept of annihilation in this context is half right and half wrong. The prior mass does, indeed, vanish but the total energy is conserved, and quickly re-binds as new particles, photons and/or anti-particles.

Krauss is not making a case that the matter and anti-matter in the Universe adds up to “nothing.” They each represent positive energy and are not in balance (known as the CP imbalance). Krauss is making the point that observations of what he calls “weighing the Universe” give a total mass-energy value (positive) that can be balanced by a potential (negative) energy of expanding space-time. That is the proposal that adds up to zero.

45. In reply to #47 by hackenslash:

Next time you try to correct somebody who patently knows more than you, at least make your ignorance obscure. You should have been warned about me.

Perhaps you should consider taking this advice, yourself.

46. In reply to #48 by Quine:

In reply to #46 by hackenslash:

When a particle and an anti-particle annihilate, nothing remains of either. This is precisely because they cancel. The reason that energy is conserved in this scenario is that there wasn’t anything to begin with. This is entirely the point that Krauss is making…

Really excellent summary, Q. Thanks.

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48. It’s like I keep telling my creditors, “All accounts will be settled with the heat death of the universe…”

49. Sheesh, tough crowd! Guess I’ll just order another free lunch before the end of the universe.

50. This is a bit off topic, but then most of the responses seem to be so what the hey.

Philosophically at some point you have to deal with the idea that something came from nothing, or something has always been there, was never created end of. Both of these are unsatisfactory to our minds, but one MUST be true. No law of any kind can exist before the creation point in the former and the latter defied our understanding of how things work, because there could be no beginning. Of course we are a small collection of atoms on an insignificant planet orbiting at 90 million miles around a star which is one of 100 billion stars in an insignificant galaxy, 1 of 100 billion, so the fact we can’t understand something is only to be expected at some point.

I prefer to believe that we came into existence from nothing, and I mean nothing, we cannot define this, cannot imagine it, but in my mind this must have existed and for some inexplicable reason everything, including our universe and perhaps other universes etc. came into being. the only other possibility is an infinity which I cannot accept at the moment, something from nothing is easier for me to imagine and to be honest its all pure metaphysics anyway so I can believe what I want, there will likely, NEVER be any empirical data to choose between them, and both are so completely complex beyond the human ability to describe that Occam doesn’t work either, in fact in the case of my preferred theory Occam’s razor becomes meaningless, because there is no causal event to create the universe, it just happened.

51. In reply to #30 by Peter Grant:

t was a joke. Just imagine the increasingly rapidly expanding universe moves you away from your investors faster than the speed of light 😀

Ah, the perfect Ponzi scheme. The ones who lose out can’t ever catch you up. Universe as Ponzi Scheme. The perpetrator would be impossible to apprehend, so not much point praying to the fucker.

52. The answer is, there is no such thing as nothing. What we call ‘nothing’ is something.

‘Zero’ in this case is essentially ‘balance’.

We are floating in a sea of nothingness. We can only detect the ‘things’, but that doesn’t mean that nothing isn’t something.

Nothingness is so pervasive that we never see its absence and thus cannot see it for what it is.

If everywhere you went was scented with strawberry scent, strawberry scent would smell like ‘nothing’ to you. If everything you saw was blue, blue wouldn’t be a word in your vocabulary.

What we perceive as reality, is a ripple in a sea of infinite possibility. That’s my understanding of quantum field theory.

53. “Nothing” is not the absense of everything. It is rather the lowest state of energy. Look up ‘Empty Space’ or ‘Free Space’ If you are a multiverse guy than there are other Universes at different energy levels than our own. Our universe is not at the lowest energy state that is possible. Also look up ‘Cosmic Foam’ the Cosmic foam of virtual particles keeps our universe at roughly 2.7 kelvin.

54. IF thats his THEORY, then he can just add it to the list… if thats his LAW, then…. There are many well-respected physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, who have created scientific models where the Big Bang and t the entire universe could arise from nothing (via natural processes). Quantum fluctuation is the temporary APPEARANCE (not creation) of energy particles out of nothing; i think the energy Krauss is referring to may be dark energy/black hole (but NOT antimatter). A quantum fluctuation releases some of that energy (think Big Bang theory) and your universe is now created.