Omnipresence

A realization I had recently relates to one of the fundamentals of physics – it’s all about differences. Once more, it seems, I’m going to run into problems with the english language in this post – although in this case, that could well just be me. What’s probably going to cause more of a problem is that I’m going to talk about religion a bit later on.

At no point in physics, except in the occasional theory, do we ever talk about something that’s omnipresent (defining this as being constant everywhere), or ubiquitous (being constant at all times). Yes, I know that omnipresent doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the same everywhere – but it will here. And yes, I know that things like the speed of light are constant everywhere – but that’s not what I’m meaning. To describe exactly what I mean, I’m going to have to go into those theories that break this rule of mine – for example, the . To put it precisely,

If something is present at every point that we look at, then we can’t detect it.

But, you’ll say, a piece of wood is present at every point on the piece of wood – true, but the only way we can detect that wood is from an external point of view, such that we recognize that the wood is something different from air. Or to look at it another way, from within the wood – what we see are the particles which make up the wood, made measurable by the lack of stuff surrounding the particles (imagine an atom; it’s some small bits surrounded by nothing).

Let’s look at the theories that state that something is omnipresent. Luminiferous Aether was a theory from the end of the 19th century, invented as something to propagate electromagnetic radiation – or light. The theory is now obsolete.

Let’s take another; the Higgs Field. This is a recent theory (suggested in 1963; it’s a hot topic at the moment) that basically says that particles are given their mass through interactions with an all-permeating (i.e. omnipresent, by my definition), constant field. I’ll say now that I don’t like this theory – simply because it must be omnipresent. It does, however, have a testable spin-off – the Higgs boson. Whether or not this will be found is something for the guys at CERN to discover (or possibly a future particle accelerator, if CERN doesn’t find it), but the omnipresent field will never be testable.

And as a final example, let’s take God. Up to a short time ago, I always thought that God was omnipresent (not necessarily by my definition), but it’s worth reading the Omnipresence article at Wikipedia to find out why this was not always so (in christian religion, that is). Let’s take the modern perspective that God is omnipresent (by the standard definition). If God is omnipresent by my definition, then physics will never be able to come up with a proof of God’s existence, or a proof that God doesn’t exist. I guess we’ll have to wait until we die to find out the definite truth one way or another.

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