There is no such thing as empty space (April 23 2013) There is no such thing as empty space (April 23 2013)


Esther Inglis-Arkell the American physics writer blogging about what makes things explode has published an article on io9 titled ‘There is no such thing as emptiness. There is only quantum foam’. Inglis-Arkell states “According to some scientists, there is no such thing as empty space. What we have instead is called “quantum foam.” We can’t see it, but we just might be able to sense it. The guy who came up with the term “quantum foam” is John Wheeler. In the “shut up and calculate” era of post-World War II era, he pushed both students and the world at large to keep thinking about Einstein’s theory of relativity and its consequences – so you know he was cool. He also had the middle name of Archibald – so you know he knew a thing or two about cool names. And so it’s natural that he used term “quantum foam” to describe one of the more perplexing ideas of physics. The idea comes from the attempts to merge relativistic gravity with quantum mechanics. Gravity, Einstein proved, was a bending of the fabric of spacetime. It also behaves like a field. Place a point far away from the Earth, and it still will be part of the Earth’s gravitational field, but it will be out where the tug of gravity is weak. Place it close to the Earth, and the tug is stronger, and it will fall. Other planets warp spacetime and create their own gravitational tugs. So space isn’t gravity-free, but a vast array of different gravitational tugs through which particles move. Pretty much everywhere that anything is placed, there is a gravitational field that it moves through. …There are ideas on how to “see” this quantum foam. They vary in technique. Some ideas, such as the randomly appearing and disappearing particles, have already been established.  Either way, we have a creamy new way of seeing the universe.”


Inspired by Esther Inglis-Arkell, io9 Image source Revision3