Friday, 11 January 2008

A vacuum is not empty!

We were watching a physicist (Sorry, forgot his name. Come on, a physicist! I'd never heard of him but he was good.) on BBC4 last night, talking about the atom. Fascinating, but that's not the point of this. He told us that when you've pumped out all the atoms from your bottle of air, it's not actually empty, because brazillions of particles and antiparticles are springing into existence and then anihilating each other all the time, so fast it just looks like it's empty. Actually, it's only empty on average. Cool.

But then Jenny said something really smart. It's not empty anyway, 'cos it's got photons shooting through it. So a vacuum contains photons. Wonder what else it contains.

7 comments:

Polgara said...

You two are too smart for me lol
Pol x

Rob Clack said...

I was amazed the physicist could explain something so difficult in a way we could follow!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

You've lost me Rob, and just when I thought I was beginning to understand you... Margot xx

Rob Clack said...

It would probably have been easier to follow if you'd seen the programme, MaITW. The way he explained it made it very easy to understand. Sadly, I'm very poor at explaining things, so it's not uncommon for explainees to not understand what I'm on about!

Rob Clack said...

Sorry Margot, I keep overlooking the fact that I know your name. I can understand about the non-empty vacuum but I can't manage to keep someone's name in my head for 5 minutes!

Sparx said...

Well my vacuum also contains cat hair and the occasional paperclip. And photons, too, of course.

Sorry.

It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum so perhaps all those particles and anti-particles are nature's way of putting two fingers up at all those physicists pumping the air out of bottles.

Rob Clack said...

Ha ha, Sparx, love it! Hope your hair is satisfactorily de-cat-puked. Good job it wasn't cat-norovirus...