Romanian Studies in Philosophy of Science

Springer Verlag (2015)

Abstract
The vacuum is the lowest energy state of a field in a certain region of space. This definition implies that no particles can be present in the vacuum state. In classical physics, the only features of vacuum are those of its geometry. For example, in the general theory of relativity the geometry is a dynamical structure that guides the motion of matter, and, in turn, it is bent and curved by the presence of matter. Other than this, the classical vacuum is a structure void of any physical properties, since classically properties are strictly associated with physical objects such as particles and finite-amplitude fields. The situation is very different in quantum physics. As I will show in this paper, the difference stems from the fact that in quantum physics the properties are not strictly tied to objects. We know for example that physical properties come into existence - as values of observables - only when the object is measured. Thus, quantum physics allows us to detach properties from objects. This has consequences: one does not need pre-existing real objects to create actual properties, and indeed under certain perturbations the quantum vacuum produces observable effects such as energy shifts and creation of particles. An open question is if by necessity the vacuum comes with an embedded geometry, and if it is possible to construct viable physical theories in which geometry is detached from the vacuum
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ISBN(s) 978-3-319-16654-4
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-16655-1
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