# Is matter infinitely divisible?

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richrf

Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:48 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;83135 wrote:
Wave?particle duality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From your own link.

Tell me about all the other scientists to whom you're giving short shrift.

I've got nothing but awe and admiration for the accomplishments and contributions of Bohr and Heisenberg (with the exception of the latter's complicity with the Nazis). My point isn't to bring them down. My point is to disabuse you of your neglect of their myriad colleagues who were no less central to modern physics.

Thanks for disabusing me.

Rich

BrightNoon

Thu 13 Aug, 2009 09:39 pm
@diamantis,
If matter can be divisable into nothing, then matter is nothing; nothing cannot be agglomerated into something. As matter obviously is not nothing, matter must either be divisable to a certain point, at which it remains matter, or be infinitely divisable. If a larger amount of matter is divisable, there is no reason to assume that a smaller amount is not, and so matter must be infinitely divisable.

Aedes

Thu 13 Aug, 2009 09:47 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;83158 wrote:
If matter can be divisable into nothing, then matter is nothing.
It would be asymptotic, of course, and not reach "nothing" until you reached "infinity". Is that possible?

Serena phil

Fri 14 Aug, 2009 05:00 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;83020 wrote:
What about space? Do you think space is something, is it just matter to you?

Just as well with matter, if none is presentable it can't be divided.

richrf

Fri 14 Aug, 2009 08:12 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;83158 wrote:
If matter can be divisable into nothing, then matter is nothing; nothing cannot be agglomerated into something. As matter obviously is not nothing, matter must either be divisable to a certain point, at which it remains matter, or be infinitely divisable. If a larger amount of matter is divisable, there is no reason to assume that a smaller amount is not, and so matter must be infinitely divisable.

What is thought? Is it something? Is it nothing? Is it divisible?

Rich

Shostakovich phil

Mon 31 Aug, 2009 12:16 am
@diamantis,
What if matter is divisible up to a certain point, afterwhich it becomes that simplest of possible forms (call it form X for the lack of any better definition) from which it arose, and of which, it is ultimately composed. Mathematicians calculate that the universe contains 10 the power of 80 atoms. The universe is expanding, and so the space in which these atoms exist is becoming less dense (given that the total number of atoms remains consistent - and there's no telling that they do); and if we regress back in time, the further back we go the less space these atoms exist in, and the more dense the volume of space in which they are contained ... until the big crunch to a singularity (a zero condition of spacetime with a paradoxical, infinite density). Matter isn't infinitely divisible, I'd venture to guess, but it divides only to that point wherein it reaches a point beyond which it can be divided no further. As with the universe, it can only regress to the point of a singularity (the result of taking things backwards in time -beyond the Planck time). The mass of the universe at this point becomes infinite. There are no more atoms, or elements, or particles of any kind. There is just a unity of mass in which all things have become one. The division of this unity into atoms, elements, or particles is something that is explained by big bang cosmology at times greater than the Planck time. The laws of physics break down at times less than the Planck time, and so naturally, this is where physics leaves off, and metaphysics takes over.

Krumple

Mon 31 Aug, 2009 01:51 am
@diamantis,
Is this question assuming that matter is separate from space and or time? I always figured that matter was not separable from the space. This is how I see the universe. A piece of material stretched and it does not remain calm but instead is waving and vibrating. The peaks of each wave is the point of matter which we can interact with where as the opposing peak known as the trough is the form energy in which we can interact with. The exchange between them is determined by the waves amplitude. As the ripples and waves exchange between matter and energy they eventually come to a neutral point. That is, if it is even possible to reach an absolute neutral point. This would also have to assume that as the space spreads out that time would actually slow down as a result since the wave matter transfer is also being stretched. There could be a breaking point but it is hard to say. I'm sure the math says something different.

Holiday20310401

Mon 31 Aug, 2009 10:16 am
@Krumple,
All matter would be divisible, but that doesn't mean it will always be divisible into further matter. Matter isn't just matter. Eventually we'd get to a certain point when the 'matter' part of what is actually looked at is no longer worth being discreted as matter?

richrf

Mon 31 Aug, 2009 10:25 am
@Holiday20310401,
When physicists peer as deeply as classical instruments will allow, they find what can only be described mathematical as probability waves that manifest as particles when measured. There are many interpretations of what all this means, but the concept of matter certainly is very strange as we look at it at as deeply as we can with classical measuring devices. What is even more strange is the entanglement between the subject and the object.

Rich

Shostakovich phil

Mon 31 Aug, 2009 10:51 pm
@diamantis,
Cosmologists among other scientists refer to spacetime now, more than they do to space and time, and matter in spacetime is the means by which they can judge both the rate of expansion (according to Hubble's constant) and the curvature of spacetime. This is as far as my understanding takes me. If the universe collapsed (the opposite of expansion) the heat inevitably produced would reduce all matter to a homogenous, indivisible mass at an infinite density if the collapse continued beyond the Planck time (10 to the minus 43 seconds). So when we speak of the divisibility of matter, I think it helps to think about the expansion of the universe and what cosmologists tell us about what happened when the universe began to expand, and at what stages during this expansion, the elements began to take shape. A certain degree of heat and density is necessary for the formation of certain elements. This is what I find more interesting than the more philosophical ideas concerning the divisibility of matter.

prothero

Thu 17 Sep, 2009 12:41 am
@diamantis,
What does physics show us?
At the deepest most fundamental level our convential notions of matter and atoms as individible particles which are innert and insensate (the billard ball notion of reality) is wrong.
fundamental particles behave as both a wave (without a medium) or as a particle (whose postion and velocity cannot both be know).
The design of the experiment determines what you see.
In fact one might better speak of quantum events than quantum particles and many physicists do.
So what is the fundamental nature of reality? Matter? What is matter?
A wave? A particle? An event?
And then there is the problem of action at a distance, quantum entanglement, coupling, pairing an effect that seems to occur fasting than the speed of light and without any form of direct communication?
We do not know what fundamental reality is but we do know that our prior conceptions of it are wrong. Time for speculative philosophy or metaphysics?
I like the speculative philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (philosopher and mathematician) (process philosophy) a lot!

SammDickens

Sun 27 Sep, 2009 12:41 am
@Aedes,
Hi, Aedes. You know, it seems to me that Newton's laws DO suggest that heavier objects fall quicker than light ones. But since the velocity of approach is relative to the sum of the masses, and the Earth is a big Mother, the variance in size and weight between a feather and Jumbo Jet is insignificant and difficult to measure. Is that the way your thought experiment goes? If not, I'd be tickled to hear it. (See your post #11 in this thread)

Samm

Shostakovich phil

Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:57 pm
@Serena phil,
Premise 2 is false. Space is not infinitely divisible as it does not constitute matter or anything concrete or anything divisible, like matter.

-

SammDickens

Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:36 pm
@Shostakovich phil,
Shostakovich, is space indivisible even if the numbers used to measure it ARE infinitely divisible (theoretically at least), and even if there are no indivisible units or quanta of space?

Samm

Shostakovich phil

Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:16 pm
@SammDickens,
My understanding of space is: It's the medium if you want to call it that, in which everything else exists; and it's indivisible. Kant called it along with time an a priori intuition, underlying everything we experience. Mathematics describes space using relativity theory, but there's something interesting in that Einstein's theory necessitates an expanding universe, and if the mathematics is played with, it has the universe or the mass of atoms it's composed of (10 to the power of 80 we're told) collapsing beyond the Planck time into a singularity -a zero spacetime condition with infinite density. This leaves mathematicians like Stephen Hawking at a standstill. He can't wrap his mind around something like a singularity. So it's possibility is simply dismissed. Whether or not it has anything to say about how the universe began, the division of that 'whole' mass (whether a singularity or something else) begins with the inflation of space as the mass splits into particular units, and the laws of physics begin to explain what elements form under what conditions of temperature as the mass undergoes expansion. This all gives me the impression of space as something separate from the matter contained within it, so space is just as Kant had it more than two and one half centuries ago, something indivisible. There was no doubt about this in Kant's mind. I can't see it any other way. This is one of the reasons why I still find Kant compelling, even though other people dismiss him simply because he was an 18th century philosopher, and we're now supposedly in a much more scientifically enlightened age.

hadad

Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:06 pm
@Shostakovich phil,
We are defining matter as anything that has volume and takes up space, am I correct? Or how are we using it? Just to be sure I am understanding the term being used correctly.

Wouldn't matter, if infinitely divisible, have infinite parts that make up that piece of matter? And is there any suggestion that it is possible for something infinite to occupy a finite space?

Alternatively, if matter was to be divided into its most basic parts, and even those parts divided into their basic parts, would that inevitably lead to the piece of matter being infinitely divisible? Or would you at some point end up with nothing at all? But can you turn a void into matter?

This is a perplexing question.

Shostakovich phil

Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:56 pm
@hadad,
Infinitely divisible matters makes no logical sense, and probably not mathematical sense either. I don't know if there are any higher mathematicians out there reading any of this. But the suggestion of infinitely divisible parts in an atom, for instance, suggests something that would then have infinite density, which an atom does not have, so that suggests there are not infinitely divisible parts within any matter. But then there is another suggestion: What if the parts that are divisible end up being divided only up to the point where they finally divide into whatever it is that space itself is made up of? This would suggest some kind of universal whole ... a quality or a form that is itself indivisible. If matter is made up of whatever it is that space is then that's where the division of matter would end. Time is regressed as far back as the laws of physics permit ... the Planck time (10 to the minus 43 seconds) ... what if an atom were divisible this many times before we arrived at whatever it is that an atom's constituent parts are actually made up of? Would this be space itself?

SammDickens

Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:14 am
@diamantis,
Is the question here meant to ask if there is an end to the smallness of particles, or is it meant to ask simply if you can (theoretically) divide a fundamental and indivisible particle into halves and quarters and so on?

Samm

---------- Post added 10-09-2009 at 02:06 AM ----------

diamantis;82926 wrote:
[CENTER][CENTER]Thought experiment
(Deductive reasoning)
Syllogism [/CENTER]
[/CENTER]

PREMISE 1: MATTER OCCUPIES SPACE.

PREMISE 2: SPACE IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

CONCLUSION: MATTER IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

Bad syllogism!

(1) Matter occupies space.
(2) The measures of space are indefinitely divisible.
(3) The measures of matter are indefinitely divisible.

Numbers are indefinitely divisible, you can make them as small as you have the time and patience to fool with. But space itself? How do you propose to slice space into discrete sections, each smaller than the other? How far can you continue this process? Reality is much different from mind games and imagination. Numbers exist only in our minds, not in reality, not in space.

Samm

(They don't call me te village idiot for nothing, you know. I work hard at it!)

vectorcube

Fri 9 Oct, 2009 01:21 am
@SammDickens,
Samm;96163 wrote:
Is the question here meant to ask if there is an end to the smallness of particles, or is it meant to ask simply if you can (theoretically) divide a fundamental and indivisible particle into halves and quarters and so on?

Samm

---------- Post added 10-09-2009 at 02:06 AM ----------

Bad syllogism!

(1) Matter occupies space.
(2) The measures of space are indefinitely divisible.
(3) The measures of matter are indefinitely divisible.

Numbers are indefinitely divisible, you can make them as small as you have the time and patience to fool with. But space itself? How do you propose to slice space into discrete sections, each smaller than the other? How far can you continue this process? Reality is much different from mind games and imagination. Numbers exist only in our minds, not in reality, not in space.

Samm

(They don't call me te village idiot for nothing, you know. I work hard at it!)

Nothing wrong here. Like i said before, premise 2 can be challenged, because quantum mechanics say that reality is discrete. If space-time turn out to be discrete, then space is not infinitly divisable. Therefore, matter is not infinitly divisible.

SammDickens

Fri 9 Oct, 2009 02:59 am
@vectorcube,
I agree with you VectorCube. It also strikes me that the imaginary or theoretical divisibility of space or matter does not say anything about whether space or matter is indivisible. I can remove a grape from a bunch because the bunch is not the smallest division of grapes. But I can also cut the grape in half and into smaller divisions although IT IS the smallest division of grapes.

I think a similar fact exists with particles. A Proton may be divided into three quarks--(but man! that takes a real good butter knife. :-) But perhaps a quark can also be cut into two or more pieces, theoretically. But that doesn't mean that a quark is or isn't indivisible matter. Now maybe if you cut a quark in fact, and instead of becoming two or more discrete quarkpieces, the rascal disintegrated into pure energy, maybe that would clue you that you've reached an indivisible minimum.

Samm

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