The Emptiness of Matter in the Universe

The Milky Way’s band of stars shown in this image from can be seen on a clear dark night as it rises from the East and sets in the West.
The Milky Way’s band of stars shown in this image from can be seen on a clear dark night as it rises from the East and sets in the West.

Our Universe is basically empty. There is a vast amount of space between planets and between galaxies. But there is also enormous empty space between the electrons in atoms.

Let's start with a quick review of where we are in the Universe.

Our planet Earth is the third from the Sun in our solar system. And our solar system is off to one side of our Milky Way Galaxy.

If we look up on a clear dark night we can see a band of milky white stars. That band of stars is the other end of our galaxy. That's why we call it the Milky Way.

It wasn't very long ago when it was sill believed that the Earth was flat and that it was the center of the universe. We definitely have come a long way and we know a lot more now.

Things We Already know

  • We know the gravitational pull of our Moon effects our tides.

  • We know that Solar Flares can affect our radio communications and electronics.

  • We know that the Earth does not take exactly 365 1/4 days to go around the Sun. Besides adding a day every four years with a leap year, we have to skip a leap year every hundred years. We also need to adjust the calendar with leap seconds added every so often.

  • We already know that the Universe is expanding. We have the technology to record distances and movements of other bodies in space. And we can tell that everything is moving apart. Actually moving away from one central point which could indicate the origin of The Big Bang.

The Universe may have no end in sight. If we travel to the ends of the Universe or if we travel deep within to find unknown subatomic particles, we will always discover a new frontier.
The Universe may have no end in sight. If we travel to the ends of the Universe or if we travel deep within to find unknown subatomic particles, we will always discover a new frontier. | Source

If the expansion did start from one single point, then does that imply there was a “beginning?” And if there was a beginning, then what existed before the beginning? How long did that vast nothingness of non-existence last?

If it was all nothingness, then how can we say it lasted for any length of time? Maybe time itself did not exist. Would that make it easier to answer the question?

Or maybe it would be easier to answer the question by saying that there was no beginning. And there will be no end. So the concept of infinity truly helps with our interpretation of the Universe, which brings me on to my next point.

The Emptiness of Matter

We can travel to the ends of the Universe only to discover that there may be no end. This is hard for the human mind to conceive. We tend to want to place end-points on anything physical, since the notion of infinity is somewhat incomprehensible.

No matter what technology we develop to reach out into space, we are limited with the problems of distance and the speed of light.

We can send robotic missions out to space that send back information about their discoveries. But the further we reach, the longer it takes for the signals to return to Earth. Eventually it becomes impossible to reach any further In a finite time period, limiting our ability to gain further knowledge of outer space.

We do know that there is some form of energy field that spreads throughout the entire Universe. Dr. Peter Higgs proposed this idea in 1964. A new discovery by atom smashing physicists on July 4th, 2012, is named after him.

The frontier of space may be considered to be the ends of the Universe. But we can discover a whole new and unexplored world if we travel inward, within inner-space.

Inner Space vs. Outer Space

We have another frontier to examine, one that affects our world just as much as all the objects in outer space.

Inner Space is just as massive and limitless, and it has yet to be fully discovered and understood.

Today we have the ability to go deeper and deeper into inner space with new technology already in existence. We have instruments that can visualize individual atoms. But we can go deeper than that!

With a new breakthrough discovery on July 4th, 2012 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle, known as Higgs Boson (named after Dr. Peter Higgs who I mentioned earlier).

The Higgs Boson particles might explain why objects have mass. The more mass objects have, the more gravitational pull they have on one another.

Higgs Boson subatomic particle discovered on July 4th, 2012

The Sun “holds” the Earth and all the other planets in their orbits. But all planets in our solar system pull on one another, causing minor fluctuations of their orbits. Even our Moon causes the Earth to wiggle. Did you feel that?

We might say that to some infinitesimal degree, every object in all the other galaxies has some form of effect on objects close to home.

As vast as outer space is, inner space is just as vast. There is mostly nothing in it and therefore there’s a lot of room. If one were to enlarge a single atom to be the size of our solar system, the electrons going around the nucleus would be equivalent to the planets going around the Sun. I mean that in the sense of size and dimension, just to give you an idea of how far apart the parts of an atom are.

There is mostly empty space deep within. So much empty space that you might be able to take the entire Universe and squeeze it into a small ball. Then keep squeezing it until you get down to a point, a point that has no dimension. No width, length or height. After all, if the Big Bang did occur, that may be the “point” we all started from.

But we can go deeper -- inside the nucleus of atoms we already have discovered Quarks, which have more mass than the electrons around the nucleus, even though a Quark is smaller in size.

There is so much more to learn about our Universe. Going deeper into the empty space of atoms may eventually reveal the true secrets of the Universe and provide a better understanding of the laws of physics.

Did you enjoy this article? See "More in this Series" below.

© 2012 Glenn Stok

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Comments 6 comments

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Way to go on this awesome hub!! That's EXACTLY why I asked the question. :D Did you hear on the news yesterday that these physicists think they found the "god" particle - essentially the potential to reason why we're here? That's what inspired the question. I love that you talked about atoms, too, because, yes, it's like there's infinite space in-between the quarks and waves and all that other stuff. Nice! Voted up and shared.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

cclitgirl, Actually, Cyndi, I read about it early this morning. But I didn't think of writing a Hub about it until I read your Q&A question. We must be on the same wavelength (no pun intended). They call the Higgs Boson the God particle because it explains how the universe is tied together. Thanks for selecting this as best answer and for voting up.

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

The final frontier, other than the two possibilities presented here - of an infinite universe and an infinite inner space - could also be of the mind and the soul. Could our minds (as a race and given enough time) continously expand in capabilities? Is death but a gateway to another existence? If so perhaps the mind coupled with our demise in this form is the beginning of a final frontier.

NateB11 profile image

NateB11 4 years ago from California, United States of America

Absolutely fascinating article. It seems we have much potential for exploration much closer to home. I like this approach and also your evocative and articulate explanations.

goatfury profile image

goatfury 6 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

Great stuff. I really enjoy thinking about this type of stuff, and do so frequently (it's either history or physics, with precious little time for anything else, other than jiu jitsu). Keep it up, Glenn!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 6 weeks ago from Long Island, NY Author

goatfury - It's good to know there are others who think about these things. I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

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