Apparently physicists have figured out–at last, or again, or provisionally–that the preponderance of material reality is vacuous, merely energy “fluctuations” in the vacuum of space. The vacuum (I think they’re saying) is really a matrix of virtual gluons and virtual quark-antiquark pairs, that blip and fizz in and out of existence all the time. So theory says. But there doesn’t seem to be a computer big or strong or fast enough to crunch the thousands of trillions of numbers in the equations that would test the theory. The conclusion is mirabile:

The Higgs field is also thought to make a small contribution, giving mass to individual quarks as well as to electrons and some other particles. The Higgs field creates mass out of the quantum vacuum too, in the form of virtual Higgs bosons. So if the LHC confirms that the Higgs exists, it will mean all reality is virtual.

I’ve always figured that reality is virtual, or as the ancients would say (and as they still are wont to say in philosophy), being is not, but all reality is phenomenal, becoming and passing away. Only I guess now we are supposing that becoming goes all the way down to the foundations, to the so-called “atoms” (and their oxymoronic “subatomic particles”) and all.

Advertisements