"It is evident, then, that it is easy to refute the arguments by which they prove the existence of the void." -- Aristotle, Physics, Book IV
"...there is no void...." -- Aristotle, Physics, Book IV
"There is no vacuum." -- Gottfried W. Leibniz, polymath, 1689
"...space without matter is something imaginary...." -- Gottfried W. Leibniz, polymath, 1689
Helium is a liquid at temperatures a few mK above absolute zero. There is some mysterious energy source that keeps it liquified.
Browne, M.W., Physicists Confirm Power of Nothing, Measuring Force of Universal Flux, The New York Times, Jan 1997
FOR a half century, physicists have known that there is no such thing as absolute nothingness, and that the vacuum of empty space, devoid of even a single atom of matter, seethes with subtle activity. Now, with the help of a pair of metal plates and a fine wire, a scientist has directly measured the force exerted by fleeting fluctuations in the vacuum that pace the universal pulse of existence.
The sensitive experiment performed at the University of Washington in Seattle by Dr. Steve K. Lamoreaux, an atomic physicist who is now at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was described in a recent issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. Dr. Lamoreaux's results almost perfectly matched theoretical predictions based on quantum electrodynamics, a theory that touches on many of the riddles of existence and on the origin and fate of the universe.
The theory has been wonderfully accurate in predicting the results of subatomic particle experiments, and it has also been the basis of speculations verging on science fiction. One of the wilder ones is the possibility that the universal vacuum -- the ubiquitous empty space of the universe -- might actually be a false vacuum.
Dr. Lamoreaux's experiment was the first direct and conclusive demonstration of something much less speculative: the Casimir Effect, which has been posited as a force produced solely by activity in the ''empty'' vacuum. His results came as no surprise to anyone familiar with quantum electrodynamics, but they served as material confirmation of a bizarre theoretical prediction.
Quantum electrodynamics holds that the all-pervading vacuum continuously spawns particles and waves that spontaneously pop into and out of existence on an almost unimaginably short time scale.
''The energy of the vacuum remains one of the deep mysteries of science,'' Dr. Turner said. ''We know from quantum mechanics that it is not empty. We have much to learn.''