A brief history of the vacuum

Vacuum is the term that physicists use to describe space without matter in it.

This does not mean that the space in empty; it contains energy. Quantum mechanics describes the vacuum state as the lowest energy level of a field or potential, or a displaced mirror image of matter (the opposite-signed energy to matter). The exact nature of this field is rarely examined beyond the simplest possible mathematical abstraction, and is often relegated to be an inconvenient but necessary counter-balancing quantity to the stuff theorists are really interested in. Relatively little attention is paid to the vacuum itself, other than abstract algebraic constructions, but we can infer some properties and effects using our mechanism.

Philosophers have speculated about the nature of the vacuum, in an attempt to understand effects that cannot be otherwise explained. Over the years, the vacuum has been described as: an invisible medium, a fizzing fount of energy, a flowing aether, a collection of invisible particles, a fluctuating cloud that surrounds matter, or just nothing (void).

A rough guide to the vacuum

Here's a quick digest of our ideas of the subject of the vacuum.

  • Bosons are fermion remnants, and many bosons form an environment of vacuum energy.
  • Interactions with the decoherent vacuum can all be regarded as quantum fluctuations.
  • Conventional vacuum statistics can be created for the flux of vacuum bosons.
  • The denser the flux of vacuum bosons, the sooner a fermion's bosons will collapse (more localized, Compton Radius).
  • As with the Compton Radius, hadronic composite structures will scale with vacuum energy density.
  • If the vacuum is dense enough, it can interrupt the reformation sequence of particles, and make them decoherent, to be absorbed into the plasma. This applies at all scales, from fundamental particles all the way up to supermassive black holes and large-scale organised structures.
  • Gravitational bosons are the same as charge-originated currents; ontology (of gravitational or charge-sourced bosons) is a result of attribution at classical scales. Further, Newtonian formulations are a good approximation for vacuum interactions without quantum uncertainty.
  • Bosons have continuous waves, but the fermionic interaction points are discrete.
  • The question of how to quantize gravitation is avoided: gravitation is an emergent statistical effect of the mechanism. It can be seen as quantized if we look at the opportunities to interact with fermions, or it can be seen as continuous if we look at the bosons that seem to communicate the interaction.

A vacuum of bosons

Our definition of vacuum is different again, but can be used to describe standard phenomena associated with the vacuum. First, we do not begin with a background space (3D space is derived from the interactions of many entities having 1-dimensional structure). Instead, we have void, which is filled with waves, which are structured in pairs as bosons.

The bosons propagate by advancing their phase, and they couple with other bosons when they are both in the Quantization Condition (QC). This phase advancement implicitly generates time, and where sufficient interactions occur, space emerges.

Space is not fundamental

In this picture, space itself is not a fundamental physical thing; instead, space is a generalised and simplified expression of the time intervals at which multiple events occur. Space is abstract, and it can be useful to use this abstraction as a stage (background) for things to fill it, but that would give you the wrong ideas about what is fundamental. You can define a point in this abstract space and, while accepting that the point has no physical meaning, imagine counting the bosons that propagate past it. This leads us to the simplest definition of vacuum that we can offer: it is the flux of bosons, which are the remnants of fermions radiated from elsewhere (see physicality).

The degenerate vacuum

QFT is based on uniqueness of scenarios/states, with the vacuum having its own state. However, we don't regard the vacuum as being a single state, e.g. a field value for a point or domain.

Instead, we see the vacuum as many bosons, so our picture of uniqueness is different from the QM view. In terms of degeneracy, our vacuum is almost unaffected by the new radiation of a fermion, firstly because it radiates away from the locality (unless it is confined), and secondly, the vacuum contains so many bosons, that one boson hardly makes a difference to its statistics. Thus, we can safely say that our vacuum is degenerate in the human environment. In the case of black holes, degeneracy is not a safe assumption. If you look at smaller scales, uncertainty becomes significant, and vacuum statistics become less relevant to individual instances.

Likewise, a particle can interact with the vacuum without affecting the statistics, and the bosons are usually independent (lacking a coherent source where multiple bosons have a relevant context).

Mostly though, the significance of interactions is mostly concerned with human attribution of effects at a classical scale. This means knowing where bosons came from, and the significance of those sources in macroscopic terms. If you zoom in to the smallest scales, the Universe, or the process of physicality, doesn't care where the bosons came from.

The Casimir effect

This mechanism offers a reasonable explanation for the Casimir effect, a result of ‘quantum fluctuations’, which we understand to be the direct fermion solutions arising from bosons of the vacuum flux.

When two conducting plates are presented near to each other, the vacuum contribution results in a small 'electromotive force' as the massive conserved components' positions are occasionally displaced, resulting in a change in the mean position and velocity of their particles. Depending on the configuration of the flux, this can manifest as repulsion where the external flux causes solutions to occur further away from the centre of the experiment, along with a small occlusion of the flux by the other plate that prevents an equal contribution from the 'inside'. Alternativelty, there will be an 'attractive' component, where the flux is directed [sic] parallel to the plates, and any interactions with the conserved fermions will result in an electromotive force that brings the plates closer together.

We need further work to quantify all these components, and illustrate which is dominant in various configurations.

A universe without vacuum?

Now for some fun. Here are our speculations on what would happen if the vacuum flux were to be suddenly removed:

  • Gravitation would fail, leaving only the minutely weak influences from the direct radiation of nearby bodies.
  • Electromagnetism would fail, except in confined structures;
  • Electrons would likely radiate away, and behave more like neutrinos, because they have no vacuum flux to localize them;
  • Black holes would persist but they would behave differently. Most significantly, they would not absorb and re-emit the environmental vacuum flux. Profoundly, this removes the gravitational effect of a black hole on its environment. Of tiny significance, without vacuum flux, the environmental localizing effect (vacuum pressure) at the surface is removed. This is masked by the activity closer to the core, and the black hole would evaporate less without a flux gradient to climb through.
  • Particles would seem bigger (Compton/Rydberg radius).
  • The vacuum would eventually converge to a new background level, based on the bosons of surrounding matter.

Of course, this couldn't happen in reality. However, we define the vacuum as being the uncollapsed quanta of former fermions, so there could be a natural variation in this vacuum flux across large distances, depending on the near-local concentrations of matter, and radiation from events in the wider environment. It remains to be seen whether these variations are present in the observable Universe.