Lawrence Krauss: The Flavors of Nothing

Lawrence Krauss:  When you think about nothing you have to be a little more careful than you normally are because, in fact, nothing is a physical concept because it's the absence of something, and something is a physical concept. And what we've learned over the last hundred years is that nothing is much more complicated than we would've imagined otherwise.

For example, the simplest kind of nothing is the kind of nothing of the Bible. Say an infinite empty space, an infinite dark void of the Bible. You know, nothing in it, no particles, no radiation, nothing. Well, that kind of nothing turns out to be full of stuff in a way or at least much more complicated than you might have imagined because due to the laws of quantum mechanics and relativity, we now know that empty space is a boiling bubbling brew of virtual particles that are popping in and out of existence at every moment.

And in fact, for that kind of nothing, if you wait long enough, you're guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics to produce something. So the difference between empty space with stuff in it and empty space with nothing in it is not that great anymore. In fact, they're different versions of the same thing. So the transition from nothing to something is not so surprising. Now you might say well that's not good enough because you have space. Where did the space come from? Well, a more demanding definition of nothing is no space, but, in fact, once you apply the laws of quantum mechanics to gravity itself, then space itself becomes a quantum mechanical variable and fluctuates in and out of existence and you can literally, by the laws of quantum mechanics, create universes.

Create spaces and times, where there was no space and time before. So now you got no particles, no radiation, no space, no time, that sounds like nothing. But then you might say, well, you know what, you got the laws of physics. You got the laws of nature. The laws themselves are somehow something; although, I would argue in fact that that is not at all obvious or clear or necessary. But even there, it turns out physics potentially has an answer because we now have good reason to believe that even the laws of physics themselves are kind of arbitrary.

There may be an infinite number of universes, and in each universe that's been created, the laws of physics are different. It's completely random. And the laws themselves come into existence when the universe comes into existence. So there's no pre-existing fundamental law. Anything that can happen, does happen. And therefore, you got no laws, no space, no time, no particles, no radiation. That's a pretty good definition of nothing.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd

Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss explains the different types of nothing. Or something.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Employees don't quit their job, they quit their boss

According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.

Photo credit: Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

Read more at LinkedIn.

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less