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Q & A: Is there any empty space?

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Most recent answer: 05/25/2013
Hi, I've been reading through this site and would first like to say that it is a phenomenal resource, and I think it is awesome that you all take time to answer everyone's questions. I have developed an interest in particle physics and the fundamental laws/particles that govern our universe. I've been wondering recently what it would be like if we were able to perceive all of the fundamental particles predicted to exist in our universe. I remember reading that bout 10^11 neutrinos are passing through each square centimeter of our bodies at any given second. Should we look out at the universe and see everything we predict to exist, would our vision be filled? Are there any points in space not occupied by anything at all? I think all I could find was that flux tubes between quarks create a perfect vacuum. Is this truly the only "empty" space?
- Drew (age 16)
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Thanks for those kind words!  Now for your questions.

Our brains are not designed to handle all of the information that they get even from the particles with which we interact. They overload. If they somehow had neutrino sensors and tried to process that information too, the overload would be much worse.

 All the objects (electrons, neutrinos, photons....) that make up the more familiar world exist as quantum waves, which never really quite go to zero over any region. However, they do get awfully close close over most of space. So we think most of space  has have very, very little of anything other than what we call "dark energy", but we don't really know what that is yet. Maybe you could all it "nothing", but we suspect it'll have some properties that make that name inappropriate.

I don't know much at all about "flux tubes between quarks" but quarks don't interact much with neutrinos so whatever the quarks are up to won't keep the neutrino fields out. There is also something called "dark matter", probably some heavier types of particles that also interact very weakly with quarks, that would not be affected.


Mike W. (posted without checking until Lee gets back)

(published on 05/25/2013)

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