Aug
25
2007

Nothing to write home about

A whole lotta nothing: Actual image of nothing.  Photo courtesy Bryan Kennedy.
A whole lotta nothing: Actual image of nothing. Photo courtesy Bryan Kennedy.
This post is about nothing. A whole lot of nothing as a matter of fact. Or would it be better phrased: a fact of no matter? I’m not sure which is correct in this case.

Anyway, University of Minnesota astronomy professor Lawrence Rudnick and his research team has discovered an area in space – check that – a HUGE area in space where there seems to be a tremendous amount of nothing. Empty space. No stars, no planets, no dust, no dark matter, no Big Bang residual microwave energy, no nothing. I mean, yes nothing. And plenty of it.

"This is 1,000 times the volume of what we sort of expected to see in terms of a typical void," said Prof. Rudnick.

There’s evidently so much of it, in fact, that if you were able to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second – or about 5.8 trillion miles per year) – it would take you about a billion years to cross it. Talk about a snooze-fest. I’d be completely bored to tears after the first two or three years.

But it seems appropriate that Rudnick be the one to discover this vast emptiness, since he seems to specialize in nothing.

He’s been teaching at the University of Minnesota since 1979, and has offered first year seminars in “Nothing”, bringing in experts to instruct his students on how “nothingness” is used or applied in various fields.

"It has a little bit of philosophy. I bring in people in different fields to talk about nothing in their fields. I've had artists come and talk about minimalist art, interior designers to talk about designing empty spaces,” Rudnick said. “I've had a blind person come and talk about seeing nothing and what does that mean."

Rudnick’s discovery came out of studying radio picture data of the universe taken from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The area studied is located in the constellation Eridanus near the foot of Orion, and showed a distinct drop in temperature and lack of matter, up to 45% less matter.

Even though it’s really nothing, Rudnick remains modestly philosophical about it.

"It's not going to be tomorrow's pacemaker or anything like that," he said. "It is, however, part of the story of how we got here."
Rudnick’s research is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal.

STORY LINKS

BBC website
Minneapolis Star Tribune story

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JARVIS's picture
JARVIS says:

I was wondering how long it was going to take before we found this in space. In my eyes, that is the edge of the universe. If there is really no dust, no gases, even if there is no thermal energy at all, that would have to mean that that would have to be the edge of everything. I dont really know how to explain it, but if you think about it, matter in space is ever expanding or contracting, there can't be an area in space with nothing in it unless it is an area where it has never been touched.

posted on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 9:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it isn't really nothing, it looks like a black cube, which is something. i dont really think that there's such thing as NOTHING.

posted on Sat, 10/18/2008 - 5:04pm

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