You know how some people don’t believe in ghosts? Well, I don’t believe in nothingness. And by nothingness, I mean the complete absence of light waves, sound waves, gamma rays, mild mannered scientists who have been transformed into incredible hulks by gamma rays and mild mannered scientists who have been transformed into merely credible hulks by gamma rays. For the record, credible hulks will convince you of their argument but are unable to lift a car. However, a discredited hulk not only can’t perform any feats of strength, he also can’t be trusted not to tamper with lab results.

So, nothingness. No atoms, molecules, light or sound. Zero presence of anything of any size down to the quantum level. Like where the sense of common decency would normally be inside people who text and talk during movies. And let me just go ahead and say right now that I am not a scientist, in case you hadn’t guessed. But I have been asking people in bars whether they think nothingness exists. Which means in the scientific community I’m at least as credible as Mötley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood.

The most consistent answer I got from my drunken poll is that “Nothingness exists, our brains are just unable to comprehend it.” Number one, congratulations on your degree in neuropsychology. I had no idea that three cans of PBR bestowed an intimate knowledge of the brain’s cognitive limitations. I guess that explains how Pabst won the blue ribbon in the first place. And why the fathers of modern neuropsychology spent so much time getting drunk at the county fair.

Number two, possibly excluding some talented neurologists, barely anyone really knows the limits of what the brain is or is not able to comprehend. People seem to look at the ability  to grasp concepts like infinity or nothingness like a bodybuilder looks at a stack of weights. Oh, well if I just had more brain muscles I could totally do like twenty reps of unravelling the secrets of creating a perfect vacuum. I mean, I’ll grant you that it’s hard to think of nothingness. Zen monks have been trying to trick their minds into a state of zero thought for centuries. But even that isn’t truly nothingness. Even during intense meditation, your brain still goes on regulating your heart and your breathing.

I’m surprised people seem so convinced that somewhere out there, there’s actually a place where a pure void exists. Like if you flew to the edge of the universe you’d just keep going into some kind of “negative land” devoid of time or dimension. Or you could stand on an asteroid at the city limits of the totality of creation and peer out into the cessation of all existence. “Gosh, sure is sanity destroying,” you’d think to yourself.

I think what most people are referring to when they make a case for the universe being surrounded by nothingness is actually just outer space. According to Wikipedia:

Outer space is an even higher-quality vacuum, with the equivalent of just a few hydrogen atoms per cubic meter on average. However, even if every single atom and particle could be removed from a volume, it would still not be “empty” due to vacuum fluctuations, dark energy, and other phenomena in quantum physics.

So even though it seems empty, things are happening at the quantum level. And according to the Wikipedia page for the Mötley Crüe album Dr. Feelgood:

Canadian producer Bob Rock found the process of working with Mötley Crüe difficult, describing the band as “four L.A. bad asses who used to drink a bottle of wine and want to kill each other.” In order to minimize conflict and allow production of the record to proceed smoothly, Rock had each member record their parts separately.

Which seems like an empty, terrible way to live but things were still happening at the musical level and Dr. Feelgood went on to sell more than 6 million copies.

The point being that if there was a place where nothing existed it wouldn’t be a place, and if you could go there it would be something because you’d be in it and if it were outside of our universe it would have to be something because it would have a location relative to our universe. Me being a layman, I’m willing to admit I may be wrong. But right now as it stands I think that as far as the universe and beyond goes, it’s all made up of something. It’s not only turtles all the way down, it’s even turtles when it looks like there’s no turtles at all. The end!

Photo by Orin Zebest from San Francisco, CA, USA (Porthole Whole) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons