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  • Writer's pictureNick Cook

Reality is Full of Empty Space

(Article Originally Published 18/7/2011)

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."

– John Lennon

So you think the world is solid do you? When we look at the world around us we see something that is there and real – after all we can touch it.

Well here’s an interesting fact; remember those diagrams of atoms, the ones with electrons closely spinning around the nucleus. It’s a familiar image – a comforting one, and we’re brought up with this easy to visualise structure in our heads.

So great, where’s the problem then? The world is full of matter so it must be densely packed together – right? Actually, it turns out that being far from being solid our world, our reality, is full of empty space. “Huh?” you may ask.

How far apart do you think the distance between a nucleus and an electron is? Remember that diagram of the simple atom? If we scale up the nucleus to the size a grape seed, a typical electron would be orbiting it at a similar distance to the width of a football stadium.

This means the world we see isn’t solid at all – it’s actually full of holes, and enormous ones at that. Just think about this as your hand moves over that solid computer mouse over an equally solid desk as you read this article – most of it's just empty space.

So do you still believe everything your senses tell you about the world around us?

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