Exploring the Most Desolate Places In the Universe: How Empty Is Empty?
Imagine being in the deepest area of the universe with a perfect, total vacuum. Does an absolute vacuum mean complete emptiness? The answer is complex and multifaceted.
The vacuum’s modern exploration began in the 17th-century and was propelled by Otto von Guericke. Von Guericke devised an experiment to demonstrate his newly created vacuum pump and provide evidence that the vacuum was possible.
The possibility of the existence of the ether plagued the minds of thinkers in the years following the groundbreaking findings of von Guericke. However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the idea of the ether was disproven, opening the door for the possibility of an actual vacuum.
Even though it seems unlikely, space isn’t entirely empty. It is filled with neutrinos and radiation, as well as populated by bits of atoms and drifting particles. To encounter the universe’s emptiest spaces, cosmic voids must be explored. These vast regions are filled with nothingness, with the nearest galaxy being millions of light-years away.
But even in these deep voids, the presence of lightweight neutrinos and cosmic background radiation is inescapable. This radiation accounts for over 99.99% of all the radiation in the universe, so even in ultimate isolation, one couldn’t be entirely alone.
Quantum fields infuse all space and time, and according to quantum physics, they contain intrinsic energy known as vacuum energy. If one could develop a method to counteract this energy, would they truly be alone? Despite quantum physics contributing to fascinating answers, the discussion remains open-ended.
The concept of space has been a matter of debate over the ages. It began as a mathematical element later evolving into a dimension underlying the motion of physical objects. With Einstein’s work, space transitioned into a dynamic, flexible entity.
As a result, a definitive answer to whether true nothingness can exist remains elusive. Is it possible that space is simply a mathematical abstraction, a means to define the connection between physical matter? Or is space far more complex? There’s much mystery to explore and much of the universe to understand.