A report in Big Think claims to have created something from nothing. But when you scratch below the surface, that nothing might be a something after all. Researchers claim to have created particle-antiparticle pairs from nothing at all. That nothing, though, is a quantuum vacuum which is, in fact, not nothing.
Even buried in the article that started the flood of sensational headlines is this statement:
In the Universe we inhabit, it’s truly impossible to create “nothing” in any sort of satisfactory way. Everything that exists, down at a fundamental level, can be decomposed into individual entities — quanta — that cannot be broken down further. These elementary particles include quarks, electrons, the electron’s heavier cousins (muons and taus), neutrinos, as well as all of their antimatter counterparts, plus photons, gluons, and the heavy bosons: the W+, W-, Z0, and the Higgs. If you take all of them away, however, the “empty space” that remains isn’t quite empty in many physical senses.
The metaphor of the nothing that is not a nothing becoming a nothing that is a nothing should not be lost on anyone on the other side of a “debate” with the people who rely on such leaps of logic to cling on to their “social human” worshipping selves. This is sophistry at its best, to rely on the complexity of perspicacity to win some form of logical trick or (more commonly, but not in this case) appeals to personal victimization.
The reason behind the hyped headlines might not be as nefarious as I might have you believe, but then again we live in a season where language is all war all the time, no matter the topic, even science. There’s probably an element of ideological framing as well as simply getting clicks with a far sexier headline. I appreciate the tactic, in and of itself.
Still, the accomplishment in and of itself is extraordinary, and, if it checks, could lead to many unimaginable discoveries that could enhance our capacity to work easier for more sustainably flourishing outcomes. Once we can duplicate a theory, we can witness the architecture, the scaffolding on which it hangs, which often leads to unexpected paths.
As Big Think reports, in early 2022, a group of researchers created strong enough electric fields in their laboratory to level the unique properties of a material known as graphene.
With these fields, the researchers were able to enable the spontaneous creation of particle-antiparticle pairs from nothing at all. This proved that creating matter from nothing is indeed possible, a theory first proposed by Julian Schwinger, one of the founders of quantum field theory. And with that knowledge, we can hopefully better understand how the universe makes something from nothing.