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nothing from something from nothing...

It is a demonstrable fact that some things can indeed come from "nothing". The best example is the zero point energy that is practically seen as the Casimir effect between two plates in *empty space*. The answer comes from realizing that we live in a quantum world, one of probabilities not certainties. The equations that govern particle behavior (to unheard of accuracy)dictate the probable emergence of particle pairs in empty space at zero temperature (absolute zero). Virtual particles they are called, however they can become very real if an event interrupts the annihilation that would normally attend their creation. The problem that people have in understanding the meaning of "nothing" is that the very concept is relative to time and energy because we are embedded in a space time. Thus over sufficiently long or short periods of it the meaning of "nothing" varies. The equations are commutative across energy as long as all the energy of the system is allocated for over any given time of observation. In the case of virtual particle predicted by mathematics, their effects measurable by experimentation, "nothing" depends on when you are doing the observation, pre spontaneous creation? post creation? or post annihilation. The concept of "nothing" is itself transitory. The intrinsic importance of this realization was put home by Steven Hawking when he conjectured his Black Hole radiation theory. It has as a lynch pin the idea of virtual particles undergoing asymmetrical annihilation on either side of a black hole's event horizon as the cause of the eventual dissipation of the black hole.

Another amazing fact, it is believed that the sum total of all energy in the universe is a big fat zero. It is theorized that as the universe expands the existing energy will dissipate to the point that it is on the level of the quantum fluctuations at which point it will be practically "nothing". Us, the Earth , the Carbon, Iron, Oxygen and Nitrogen that make up planets and nebula of the galaxy, the entire universe is nothing more than the remnants of an energy echo sent 13.5 billion years ago in the initial bang. The evolution of the universe is an expression of that energy as it evolves over time, if it is true that the Universe will continue to expand and in fact accelerate with age it will accelerate to a state of "nothing". Over the arch of observation that attended its creation, expansion and evolution and eventual death in a cold whimper it will be conserving energy as over that arc the sum of what was and what was not will still be zero. Incredibly cool isn't it? Recent evidence suggests that our Universe may have been created in a process called Inflation (theorized by Andre Linde in the early 80's) the idea is that our universe is a bubble in an ever roiling multiverse infinitely extended, a white noise of universes being created, evolving and dying forever...not unlike what we see in the zero point energy, an endless roiling of empty space. The beauty of this symmetry of the immensely large and the immensely small is hardly an accident in my view.

So something (virtual particles) can indeed come from "nothing" (empty space) and elicit real effects (Casimir Effect , dissolving black holes) on the Universe. In this, the physics definition of "nothing" is statistically the white noise of the zero point energy, which is as "nothing" as anything can get in space time. When I first learned of this correlation between reality and the equations of quantum mechanics I had one of the most incredible feelings in my life, that the probabilistic equations could give rise to such a prediction (vacuum fluctuations) of the very base nature of space itself was astonishing to me.

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_point_energy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_radiation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_fluctuations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commutative_law

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