X-Message-Number: 17902
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 20:12:10 -0500
From: david pizer <>
Subject: More on uncaused events and something from nothing

Some people have tried to help me with my project.  I have clumped all my
questions and comments to their answers in one post. 


>From: "Pat Clancy" <>

>This is often justified based on the idea of a sort of gigantic quantum 

What is a gigantic quantum fluctuation?  


>- I don't think you can have a fluctuation of _nothing_. Nothing 
>means _nothing_ 

That's the way I feel.  So I have trouble understanding how the universe
can ever have had a beginning.  It seems the only trouble free theory is
that the universe has always existed.  If that is so, then it seems the
universe will never end.


>And then there's the possibility of cyclic Big Bangs and Big Crunches, 
>repeating infinitely back and forward in Time.

If there is a big bang that formed the present universe, the eternal bang,
crunch, bang theory has the least problems and it explains how this
universe got started and why it is expanding without having to swallow
something from nothing.

> I think a real creation from 
>Nothing, though, is a metaphysical problem that is beyond science.

Ok.  Anyone got any metaphysical answers?

>From: Mike Perry <>

>My advice is, don't worry about it. Empty space is "nothing" yet particles 
>can spontaneously form in it. Calling it "nothing" should not be taken too 

How can a particle spontaneously form in nothing?  Wouldn't it make more
sense to think that a particle formed from some cause that we don't yet
understand, but not from nothing?

How does empty space qualify as nothing?  Can't you think of volume in
empty space?   For instance one cubic foot of dirt would fit into one cubic
foot of empty space?
If empty space has volume then it is not nothing.


>From: "Michael LaTorra" <>

>=> Gosh, Dave, I hate to disappoint you, but I think modern physics has
>shown fairly conclusively that something can come from nothing and that
>uncaused events do happen.

>The best example of something coming from nothing is the spontaneous - but
>temporary - creation of subatomic particle pairs (one matter, the other
>antimatter) from the "quantum foam" of the vacuum. 

If something comes from a quantum float then it does not come from nothing???

>Radioactive decay of a heavy nucleus is an example of an uncaused event.
> The
>timing of radioactive decay is said to be uncaused because there is no known
>cause for the decay of a single radioactive nucleus to happen at one moment
>and not another. To be sure, the statistical probability of radioactive
>decay by large numbers of nuclei is quite well defined. But no one can
>predict when any particular nucleus will spontaneously decay.

This seems a weaker claim then an uncaused event.   This claim, as I read
it, only says the cause is not known. It does not show *how* the event is


>From: William Henderson <>

>I agree with you David, 'something from nothing' seems absurd.

> There are
>some physicists that put it another way: that a continuum of seven
>demential space underwent a spasm and exploded into a 3 dimensional
>universe [very loosely recalled from Paul Davies, The Mind of God.]. In
>this example there was something to begin with.

This seems to be what happens when you take the time to follow these
uncaused creation theories all the way out.  They always seem to have been
dependent on something else.

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