“Nothing… what on earth is Nothing”


In mathematics, “nothing” does not have a technical meaning. The number zero is often used interchangeably with the term. It could also be said that a set contains “nothing” if and only if it is the empty set, in which case its cardinality (or size) is zero.

In other words, the word “nothing” can be an informal term for an empty set. I had 2 apples, ate them and have none left. Although there is nothing left in the set, it doesn’t mean there are no apples left in the world, apples still grow on trees.

In physics, the word nothing is not used in any technical sense either. A region of space is called a vacuum if it does not contain any matter, although this is misleading because a vacuum contains atomic particles and energy. In fact, it is impossible to construct a region of space that contains “absolutely” no matter.

So the million dollar question is what is nothing?

You cannot imagine what no-thing would look like because the moment you apply any concept to describe nothing – ‘nothing’ immediately becomes some-thing. Isn’t nothing merely a fool’s gold, a fancy metaphor that is used to describe some invisible quality that does not exist in any real sense of the term. If so, why is it a term readily adopted into some scientific disciplines to describe something that is supposed to be real?

I quote the following from eminent scientist Sir Roger Penrose (a leader of black-hole science) as:

“Time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy. The singularity didn’t appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy – nothing

I’m not setting out to criticize a man of Penrose’ stature – but isn’t this kind of thinking in conflict with common sense, as well as ancient understanding of cycles and eternal existence? The Mayans, for example, regarded the universe as consisting of cycles. Many Native American Indians regarded the ‘circle’ as sacred, Cherokee’s wisdom states that the “world works according to the way of the circle”. Therefore, I find it rather curious that we look at the ‘circle’ or the ‘zero’ and see it as a symbol representing ‘nothing’, or something that has no value, rather than recognising it for its infinite or never ending qualities as championed by ancient ancestors.

Aesthetically speaking, the modern symbol that represents nothing is strikingly similar to the Ouroboros.


This ancient symbol makes reference to the ‘cyclic’ nature of creation and self reference. Embedded into this reference is the association with ‘apperception’ and its through this that we gain a rather stunning insight into a deeper understanding that was shared by our ancestors;

Apperception (from the Latin, ad-: “to, toward, or to go near” and percipere: “to perceive, gain, secure, learn, or feel”) is a term that can describe various aspects of perception and consciousness in such fields as psychology, philosophy and epistemology. (Wikipedia)

So a key question for me is why is there such disparity between ancient and modern view-points?

Philosophically and morally speaking the difference between the two philosophies is as vast as the cosmos itself, both viewpoints are potentially Life or Mind altering in their own right.

Nothing is an illusion. It is a word that has no real meaning and yet it is so often used to “prop-up” scientific arguments. Nothing has no basis in reality. You cannot see, touch, taste, smell and hear nothing. There is no cul-de-sac in the universe where nothing will be discovered, nor will you ever own a piece of nothing – apart from the idea you have in your imagination, but even then, the idea of nothing is actually something!

So when your science teacher says to you that the universe “spontaneously” created itself out of nothing you can politely argue against this counter-intuitive speculation by asking them to verify such a statement by showing you what nothing IS outside of purely philosophical abstractions.

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