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Monday, 16 July 2018

Nothing

You probably recognise these sentences: “I have nothing [to wear]” and “There’s nothing [interesting] to see”. Both sender and receiver know that these statements are not true. It’s an exaggeration to stress that there is not enough of “something”. Probably, the word “nothing” may only be defined as the absence of something.

Hence, “nothing” is never all-inclusive or (fully) comprehensive. We may think that the air in our garden contains “nothing” but you know better when the sun illuminates the dust particles through a window pane. There’s always something when you look more carefully.

Given my definition of “nothing”, the absence of something, it’s tempting to compare “nothing” with the number zero (0). You could even argue that “nothing” equals zero (0). The number zero is a human invention to facilitate mathematics (eg, SmithsonianVox). If our decimal numeral system is rooted in 2 hands of 5 fingers, there’s no finger “zero”.

Quora: “Zero was invented independently by the Babylonians, Mayans and Indians (although some researchers say the Indian number system was influenced by the Babylonians). The Babylonians got their number system from the Sumerians, the first people in the world to develop a counting system.” Note LO: italic markings by me.

There might even be no situation in which “nothing” would be an objective fact, rather than a subjective opinion. I think, feel and believe there is always “something”, which thus prevents the application of an objective “nothing”.

Why do we even have the word “nothing” if its use is often flawed? I suppose that nothing was the opposite of something, and that’s its original meaning has been forgotten. The word “nothing” subsequently became a (human) concept or invention like zero.

A recent Aeon article has the following intriguing title: “Is a hole a real thing, or just a place where something isn’t?”. Remarkably, the article does not question whether holes have a purpose. I think, feel and believe that holes (ie, empty void or “nothing”) do have a purpose. The most common example is a ring.

The purpose of the hole inside a ring is clear to humans. Without this purpose, a ring would still be a ring, even in the absence of something, like the finger of a guest or a host (eg, Aeon article). The same applies to a bolt and nut. The hole in a nut has a clear purpose. Both “wait” for each other to complete their joint functionality - or purpose.

It’s assumed that all matter gets erased inside a black hole. However, some claim that black holes might be the entry or exit points of wormholes that connect universes (ie, multiverse).

Any house has lots of holes. We use doors and windows to close (and lock) these holes. The functionality of any hole (eg, house, nut, ring) seems to provide a point of entry and/or exit. Closing the hole either completes – or loses - the functionality or purpose.

Using the word “nothing” may have a similar purpose. It’s a plea for empathy. We know it’s not true but we may pretend to believe it. We may even feel generous and help finding a “something”.

Something from Nothing (2014) by Foo Fighters


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise