The Existence of Matter

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By Rahul Gladwin | June, 1999.

Why is there something rather than nothing? This question has been thought upon by philosophers since ancient times, but no one has come to a reasonable answer. The question is one of the most basic questions in philosophy and implies to all the existing matter in the universe. This essay systematically breaks down this question down into simpler components and individually gives a possible solution to each question. Now, what is 'something?' How does it imply to us humans? What is 'nothing?' Can 'nothing' exist? Here is an critical analysis of the above questions.

What is 'something?' 'Something' can also be called matter. Matter is an extremely important component of the universe. In fact, it can reasonably be stated that the universe cannot exist without matter. Matter shapes space and makes the foundation for all the heavenly bodies. Everything is made of matter; we are made of matter. Even light is made of matter particles called photons. A living thing is made of matter; a dead thing is made of matter. Science defines matter as something that has weight and something that occupies space. Matter may be seen or felt. Einstein, however, has proven that matter and energy are interchangeable, but energy does not have weight, nor does it occupy space. Therefore, matter can precisely be defined as a form of energy that has weight and occupies space.

Matter is the means of life's existence. The objects, living or non-living, which we see in our daily lives are made of different arrangements of matter. These arrangements of extremely tiny matter particles in space give objects their shape and colour and texture. Matter is important to us because we exist and we are made of matter. Our natural senses would be useless without the existence of matter. They are designed to see, smell, feel, taste and hear only matter particles. At the same time, matter cannot exist without space.

'Nothing' can be defined as empty space. Space is the cradle for matter; matter cannot exist without it. Usually, space is defined in terms of three dimensions, but astrophysicists have come up with space that has four or more dimensions. In general usage, space is characterized by the property of extension, or the ability to stretch out or extend in any direction; in astronomy, the region beyond the earth's atmosphere, or beyond the solar system: outer space. The so-called actual space in which material objects exist and are perceived was regarded for many thousands of years as having three dimensions. This kind of space, which is measurable according to the rules of Euclidean geometry, is entirely consistent with everyday experience and with all forms of ordinary measurement of size and distance. Modern investigations in mathematics, physics, and astronomy, however, have indicated that space and time are actually extensions of the same continuum, which scientists refer to as space-time or the space-time continuum.

Does 'nothing' exist? The question can also be stated as: does empty space exist? Modern science states that anything that has weight and occupies space is matter, but space has no weight and space cannot occupy space because space is in space itself. Space holds matter in it, but it individually may not occupy space . It is the matter present in space that occupies the space. For matter to exist, space has to exist. Thus, matter exists because of space, but space can exist without matter. Imagine that we are all alone away from earth far away in deep space, and suddenly all the matter disappears but space remains. What do we see in front of us when we open our eyes? Empty black space. Black, because there is not even light. Now suppose that all the space disappears but matter remains. What do we see in front of us? We cannot imagine something like that.

Why is there something rather than nothing? It is because something has to exist instead of nothing. For those who believe in God, He has to exist. Or at least, empty space has to exist. If empty space exists, matter has to exist within space to occupy space. If matter has to exist, life has to exist, and it is this that has confused philosophers since ancient, as to: why should something exist? Or at least, why should space exist?

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