I’m going to preface this post with a warning. Things could get a bit messy and confusing as I will be touching on the subject of Nothing. More specifically, the origin of the Universe and how it may have been born out of nothing. You have been warned, even I’m confused just thinking about it.
A little while ago, I attended a lecture given by Professor Peter Atkins. To the undergraduate chemistry student, you will know him as the guy who wrote that textbook. Anyway, he was talking about the limits of science and how the Universe might have come about. Most of us would be familiar with the Big Bang Theory. That there was once nothing and then BAM, a big explosion happened which created the Universe.
The Big Bang Theory obviously leads us to one big question: how do you create something out of nothing? How did the Universe pop out of nothing? Well, the answer to that may be that the world we are living in is actually still nothing: that something and nothing are actually the same thing. That the Universe is just a weird representation of nothing. That if we added all the energy coming from the planets, the stars, gravity and everything else that’s contained in the Universe, the sum of this energy would be zero.
Okay, work with me here. The Universe has both matter and anti-matter. If we combine them together, they cancel each other out and you have nothing. Reversing this, you can start with nothing and separate the matter and anti-matter components from each other to create a whole lot of something. This is how some people think that the Universe was created and is why it is said that nothing and something are really the same thing.
Of course, how exactly does nothing spontaneously turn into something? What exactly was the catalyst for “spontaneous cosmogenesis” (feel free to use that phrase in a sentence sometime as it sounds smart and almost cool)? Well it’s anyone’s guess. But anyway, that’s one of the theories of the origin of the Universe. There’s a whole other group of scientists who think that the Big Bang Theory is incorrect and that before this Universe there was another one, which gave birth to this current Universe. It’s all very confusing and I hope it’s not too confusing for you. And I hope it’s not too distressing to think that we may all be a bunch of nobodies, literally. Perhaps it might help to reread and digest this article a bit further with a cup of tea and a pensive sunset.
Let me know in the comments section what you think and if you want to know more or need further clarification (slash confusion), this New Scientist video is pretty nice.