Zero is not Nothing

This morning I woke up with these thoughts buzzing around in my head, so I thought I would jot them down.

Zero is a state of being, it is not like -1 or +1 which are actual numbers. If I have a cookie and my brother takes away my cookie, the cookie still exists, it is just that I don’t have it. So I don’t have zero cookies, I am merely in a state of zero cookies, but that could change if I take the cookie back from my brother. If he beats me to it and eats the cookie before I can grab it back, the cookie still exists, it has just changed state (and I don’t want it anymore).

Zero always has a context. The scale on a thermometer in Celsius degrees registers a zero at the point of transition between ice and water, it is not a place where there is no temperature. Suppose I start with a box of ten shiny pebbles. If I remove 9 pebbles, the box has 1 pebble left, but I have 9 pebbles in my hand. If I remove the last pebble, the box has zero pebbles in it, but I have all ten pebbles. So there are never zero pebbles except in the context of the box.

Now money is different. It is not real, it is representational. So I can be at a state of -$1,000 and still have lots of actual dollar bills in my wallet. And I can still buy things using the money in my wallet. However, being in a state where I am both -ve and +ve means I am unstable. Whereas with cookies, I either have the cookie or I don’t.

The same is true for the concept of infinity. It is not all-inclusive because I can have many infinities. The number of circles I can draw in a triangle is infinite. I can draw a whole bunch of triangles and get a whole bunch of infinities. This is also not a number. It is — like zero — a state of being. Suppose I want to distinguish between the edge of a knife and the air that surrounds it. The closer I get, the closer I am to the knife edge. at some point we could say, I am no longer in the air, I am also not yet on the knife, I am at the transition between knife and air. If I zoom into a sub-molecular level, the knife edge is now more of a transitional zone between the air and the knife. At some point it will be all knife and no air. Am I infinitely close or am I at the zero point? From the perspective of this concept, it doesn’t matter, either statement is a statement of phase, it is not a number.

Nobody has observed nothing. Nobody has observed everything, in fact we have no idea what everything is.

Matter and anti-matter are like +1 and -1. Zero matter or zero antimatter is a transition state, not a condition of no matter (not a condition of nothingness). One can hypothesize that the universe always has matter, so even if it is at a zero condition, both matter and anti-matter exist, it is just that the universe is in a stable balance between a quantity of some matter and some anti matter. If matter and anti-matter are the warp and woof of the fabric of the universe, then the universe can take any shape.

What about the Kelvin scale of temperature? It is supposed to start at zero on the assumption that there is absolutely no thermal energy at that point on the scale. However, thermal energy still exists. If we conceive of a negative Kelvin number it presumably is a state where thermal energy is being subtracted from the matter (matter and energy supposedly being interchangeable…). Would that create or be a black hole? One could argue that a black hole is an anti-matter sun. Perhaps the temperature in a black hole can be measured in minus Kelvin degrees.

Zero divided by zero is said to be an undefined number, or an invalid operation. Given that 0 is not a number but merely a state, it is quite reasonable that you can’t use it as a number. That also explains why if you try to divide infinity by zero it is a nonsense operation, because you are not really using numbers.

So in conclusion, zero is not nothing! At least that’s my musing for the morning.

8 thoughts on “Zero is not Nothing

  1. This is the stupidest post I ever came across. How can 0 be something. If you have 0 apples in your basket, you have 0 apples my friend. It MEANS NO APPALE IN YOUR BASKET. Why is zero of any interest to you if by its own it has no value.

    • It probably is the stupidest post you will ever read. Think about the number 0 as a mathematical concept – not a physical number. Suppose you started with 12 apples and your friend asked if he could buy 14 apples. So you gave him 12 apples but he paid you for 14 apples. Now you don’t have any real apples in your basket, instead the basket really contains -2 mathematical apples. So 0 the mathematical concept is not nothing (no apples) in this case. In this case no real apples in the basket is actually -2 mathematical apples in your basket until you add 2 real apples. Then the basket contains 2 real apples, but it actually has 0 mathematical apples because the 2 apples aren’t your apples, they are your friend’s apples. In other words, zero (mathematically) always has a context, it does not necessarily mean nothing in reality.

      Now is that even stupider or what? Thanks for the reply!

    • It’s actually not stupid because think about 0 in 20, the zero in 20 means something, it’s a place holder, if the zero weren’t there then 20 and 2 would be the same thing. As for zero degrees, zero degrees doesn’t mean thee aren’t any degrees does it? Exactly.

      • Definitely a fun discussion. One that flows form this is how the universe began Lawrence Krauss: “The creation of ‘something’ is inevitable because ‘nothing’ is unstable.” is based on quantum mechanics.

  2. I actually think this is very interesting and if you can understand it, at the same time having a open mind you can understand what alan is saying… it really is a deeper way of thinking that not everyone understands or can even thinks like… i appreciate this and I’m sure everyone else did as well that did not comment.

  3. Maths cannot be taken so objectively, I mean Euclid geometry is basically just graphs but you relate to the study of spatial relations. That being said everybody is entitled to their opinion and I am completely relate to yours. That being said the first comments scared me….how can people be so blind to perspective and analytical thinking? Anyway thanks for showing a broader perspective.

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