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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/28/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Space could be a fluid, new models suggest.

Scientists know a lot about the universe, certainly a lot more than they knew just decades ago. However, in spite of the new knowledge, some profound mysteries remain. One of the greatest mysteries is, what is space anyway? Some scientists finally think they have an answer.

Is space a fluid? Like an ocean, space may be a fluid, or so models suggest.

Is space a fluid? Like an ocean, space may be a fluid, or so models suggest.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/28/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: space, spacetime, viscosity


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - From school, we are taught that space is a vacuum, a void of absolute emptiness.  However, recent studies have proven that this is not at all true. What we regard as space is filled with random molecules and subatomic particles which mysteriously pop into --and out of existence like effervescence in a soda pop. Space is also permeated by waves of radiation of all sorts.

If space were a vacuum, then waves, such as those of light, shouldn't be able to travel through it. Waves require a medium, thus the mystery.

St. Dominic, patron saint of astronomers.

Professor Stefano Liberati, from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and Luca Maccione, a scientist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, think they have a novel answer to the mystery. Their answer is that space is in-fact a liquid with a viscosity near zero.

The answer is elegant and would solve a number of mysteries about the universe, yet it would also prompt new questions.

The idea that space was a liquid isn't new. The concept has been around for well over a century and possibly longer. Over 50 years ago, it was proposed by theoretical physicists, but there was really no way to test the idea at that time.

Now, sophisticated computer models allow scientists to see how the universe would behave if it were a liquid with a viscosity near zero.

The researchers call the new model "quantum gravity" and they explained that the model, when viscosity of the fluid that is space is reduced to near zero, appears to work.

Einstein originally came up with the concept of space being more than just a vacuum, at least from an academic perspective. Einstein suggested that both space and time were interwoven into what was later referred to as "spacetime." So far, the observations of researchers indicate that Einstein is correct.

However, there remain mysteries about space that quantum gravity appear to solve.

Despite the promise of the hypothesis, it remains just that, and lacks physical evidence verified by the scientific community. How that evidence would be gathered is itself a mystery since nobody has proposed any feasible experiments to test the idea.

However, this could happen in the years to come. And if the hypothesis were demonstrated by testing it would necessarily force the rewriting of the Standard Model of Physics.

It seems the more we learn, the less we know.

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