This thought has completely changed my perspective towards matter. If the matter in a star can collapse to a point to form a Black hole, surely the true nature of matter should be able explain this behavior. I find this collapse easy to imagine if I visualize Matter as something which lies in space, but which itself is not space, or space-like... It does not occupies space... What I mean is this... Why should matter occupy space? Space-fulness is the nature of space, why associate it with matter?

I use this modified picture of matter to explain the collapse of a star to a point. Suppose matter in a star has 0 volume, and it is the space in between matter that does the job of occupying the volume, then we can easily eliminate this space to explain a point sized infinitely dense black hole...!

A particle of matter with no volume is hardly like a particle I had imagined earlier. It is more surprising...

I think that matter lies in space, but does not occupies it.

Is the general association of space-fulness with matter a misunderstanding? Is it correct to view our matter as a space-less entity? Or matter is actually woven to the fiber with space, such that it itself behaves a bit like space, by occupying it?

Does Matter REALLY occupies space? Am I am under a misconception?

  • $\begingroup$ "Suppose matter in a star has 0 volume, and it is the space in between matter that does the job of occupying the volume". There is no "in between" in your case. If matter occupies no space, the whole space is "in between", i.e it is empty. "I think that matter lies in space, but does not occupies it." If matter does not occupy space, it does not "lie" in it. $\endgroup$ Aug 18 '14 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ "There is no "in between" in your case. If matter occupies no space, the whole space is "in between", i.e it is empty." Space is 'not' empty. Matter, according to my case, zero dimensionally intersects with space, while retaining its own existence in some other dimension. So, you see that matter 'spreads' like space, and even intersects with it at points, But it itself, according to me, is unlike space. In this sense, space lies between abstract pieces of matter, and matter 'lies' between lumps of spaces surrounding it. $\endgroup$ Aug 20 '14 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ "zero dimensionally intersects with space," In order to intersect a body/particle/whatever needs to have extension. A thing with null extension means nothing, and nothing cannot intersect, because nothing does not exist. "... while retaining its own existence in some other dimension." Speculations about other worlds are non-scientific, because they are non-falsifiable. "So, you see that matter 'spreads' like space." Frankly, I cannot see it. I can't imagine how nothing can spread. "space lies between abstract pieces of matter". "Abstract" means non-physical, not existing in real world. $\endgroup$ Aug 20 '14 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ In your first comment, you said "If matter does not occupy space, it does not "lie" in it." In co-ordinate geometry, we learn that a point is a zero dimensional entity without volume. Also points 'lie' in three dimensional or two dimensional Cartesian planes, even though they occupy no volume. For example, the co-ordinate of a point A to be (2,1,4) means its x-co-ordinate is 2 units, y co-ordinate is 1 unit and so on. In a similar manner, a zero dimensional entity in space can also 'lie' in it and even have a position. At least volume-less-ness poses no problem for matter to 'lie' in space. $\endgroup$ Aug 24 '14 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ You said,"There is no "in between" in your case. If matter occupies no space, the whole space is "in between", i.e it is empty." But, even 'points' in Cartesian plane occupy no space, although they do have a measurable distance between themselves. If eight points in space are situated each at the vertices of a cube, then we can even measure the volume between them. So, we find that even zero dimensional things in space can have spaces between themselves. $\endgroup$ Aug 24 '14 at 10:48

Yes, it's a misconception, or not - or both.

What do you call "matter"? Let's call matter particles with a rest mass. So, everything that's made up of elementary particles is matter. Now here's the catch: To the best of our knowledge, elementary particles are pointlike, i.e. they really don't have any extend in space, they don't really "occupy" any space.

Nevertheless, what we see is that objects do tend to occupy space in that no other particle can be there - now how's that? If we look at the stable particles (protons and electrons essentially), we even see that protons do occupy space. I can think of two reasons, the first being the Pauli exclusion principle. Since protons and electrons are fermions, they cannot be in the same quantum state, hence there is a good chance that they cannot be at the same place. So, losley speaking, if a proton is at one place, this makes it unlikely for any other proton to be there (impossible, if all other quantum numbers equal). Especially in bound states, this is THE reason, why electrons pile up instead of all being close to the atom's centre, thus making an atom appear "large". The second reason is charges (electric, etc.): equal charge will put more pressure towards protons not being in the same place. "Charge" is also the concept used to define something like the proton radius (which doesn't mean that a proton actually occupies this amount of space). So having two objects with the same (electric) charge, if you bring them near to each other, they will repell - hence it seems that they occupy a certain amount of space, where the other particle can't go.

So, all in all, elementary particles don't occupy space, other particles (and hence most part of the "mass", since this is binding energy) do, because their charges and the Pauli exclusion principle (since baryons and leptons are both fermions) make sure that it will be less likely to find other particles near them.

However, all this can be overcome by enough force/energy - as is seen by the existence of black holes.

  • $\begingroup$ I used the word 'matter' in a broad sense to refer to anything in the world which is not 'space'. Please elaborate what you mean by 'elementary particles'. 'Protons and electron'? But protons and electrons are more like objects than particles. It might be a combination of too many zero-dimensional particles... If protons occupies a specific region of space which no other proton can, this is because the fundamental zero-dimensional 'pigments' of matter that combine to form a proton are held together in a way so not to allow any other particle in that specific region of space-time... $\endgroup$ Apr 4 '14 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ "elementary particles" are those particles, which we believe to be undivisible, i.e. electrons seem to be elementary, protons aren't (see also Wikipedia). Your definition of 'matter' as anything not 'space' is not very good, since it precludes an answer to your question: when matter is not space, then it can't occupy space, since wherever it is, there is no space. $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Apr 4 '14 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ Tell me. Electron has a size, however small and elusive it may be... Then how can something that has spatial dimensions be believed to be indivisible? I think at the very core of indivisibility should be the idea zero-dimensional size... Then how can an electron be elementary and indivisible? Anything that is not 0 can be divided further.... Electrons can be... $\endgroup$ Apr 4 '14 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ That's what I'm saying. An electron is believed to have no spatial extend. No elementary particle has such extend. However, since they are charged, where there is an electron, other electrons will most likely be further away - in a bound state like around an Atom, you can even calculate where the electrons will be and this space seems to be "occupied". A proton, which is not elementary, appears to have an extend because of the various forces. $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Apr 4 '14 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin: "So, losley speaking, if a proton is at one place, this makes it unlikely for any other proton to be there." But, since particles "really don't have any extend in space, they don't really 'occupy' any space", there is no "there" to be occupied by two fermions. No extension means no spatial conflict, doesn't it? $\endgroup$ Aug 13 '14 at 8:56

Imagine this sheet of paper is the known universe:

enter image description here

The paper is the known universe. The two dots on the sheet are atoms or particles. The empty space on the paper is space/time. Space/time is continuously expanding from every point on the paper (indicated by the arrows), except for those points where a particle or atom exists.

Because space/time is expanding evenly from every point, it creates a sort of "pressure". There is less space/time expanding between these two atoms, and there is more space/time expanding outside of them. This "pressure" then forces the two atoms closer together.

If you zoomed out on this image (symbolizing the expansion of space/time) however kept expanding the size of the sheet of paper (or not depending if you think the universe is expanding or not, I think it is) the two dots would appear to move closer and closer together. There would still be an amount of space between them, however relative to the rest of the universe they would have moved closer together.

Now, we can also tell that the two dots are slightly towards the top edge of the universe, so their motion within the universe will leave them slowly traveling in that direction. If we added a third dot near the top border of the paper, the amount of expanding space/time between this dot and the edge would be smaller than the amount of expanding space/time in the center of the page. This dot would appear to be moving much more rapidly, and would also seem to be moving under a repulsive force of gravity rather than an attractive force.

Does any of this make sense to anybody else? I believe what Raja is saying is absolutely 100% correct and true.

I tried explaining this almost 10 years ago to a scientist from Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA and he told me I was wrong and that I simply did not understand physics. But I think he only believed what he was taught in school. I am almost certain what Raja is saying is correct.


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