…it merely waits.

crudely put: Even empty space has a certain amount of energy. This energy manifests in the form of “virtual particles”. These are particle/anti-particle pairs that spontaneously spring into existence and then almost instantly annilate each other.

The existence of these particles is so brief and the counter-balance of their forces and magnitudes so perfect that the net effect is almost as if they never existed, hence the term virtual particles. However, though fleeting, certain effects such as the Lamb Shift are thought to suggest the existence of particles such as virtual photons.

In the her book Many Waters author Madeleine L’Engle implies that like virtual particles other potential entities might straddle the border between existence and non-existence.

As a side note: if a particle/anti-particle pair forms near the event horizon of a black hole, one of the particles might fall into the black hole and be lost while the other escapes into the universe. Since the particles could not annilate as they normally would the net effect is that a particle springs into being out of nothing. In actuality the energy to form the particle comes from the black hole it’s self, thus decreasing the black hole’s mass.

This process, a form of quantum tunneling, when repeated over a long period of time will eventually cause even the inescapable mass of a black hole to gradually evaporate.


About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

5 thoughts on “…it merely waits.

  1. Yes. Ever since you wrote about it, it has been one of those things that I can’t get stop thinking about. I love that image.

  2. Interesting. I never got to quantum electrodynamics (QED) which is I believe one would calculate the Lamb shift. Or I might have, but that was 4 years ago. Who knows.

    I take it the book is a good read?

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