Something out of Nothing

Many people use the phrase, “making something out of nothing”, maybe concerning a renovation of some kind, or even pulling a failing project from the depths. Other people use the phrase, “pulling something out of thin air” to those same examples. I am here to tell you that you can ‘pull something out of thin air’, in fact, you can pull two things! Two entirely and utterly different things.

Let us take a beam of light, any ray of light as long as it has very high power. Now, shoot it out into thin air. At this point from my description, you may imagine a lump of material pop into existence, unfortunately, no, the laws of physics still exist. What does happen, however, is a particle pops into existence, along with its antiparticle.

I used a word that may have shocked some people reading this, antiparticle?!? Yes, there are antiparticles and to that fact, antimatter. They exist, although hard to get hold of. In the diagram above, I shall point out a few more things, us physicists denote beams of light, or photons, with a $\gamma$. Yes, there is a nucleus of an atom in the diagram, there are no electrons because I couldn’t be bothered to do the probability to find them. The atom is there as this only happens when the beam of light passes an atom. Still, we were shooting it into thin air, so we had not to worry about that intricacy.

Theoretically, we could make an object we wanted if we show enough beams of light. Although matter isn’t totally made of electrons ($e^{-}$) and positrons ($e^{+}$), we can use these electrons to bash into other atoms! If we do a similar thing to above, but with an electron bashing into a bit, we can get a neutron and a neutrino. A what?!? Yes, a neutrino, like a neutron but smaller, massless and pretty much just an amount of energy. You think that’s nuts? Get this, Neutrinos have flavours! Unfortunately, they don’t taste like strawberry or vanilla, but they do have familiar names like an electron. In fact, this collision produces an electron neutrino.

This looks similar to what we saw above, but this time the electron is hitting the nucleus straight on. This produces neutrons and an electron neutrino. We now have neutrons, we are 2/3 of our way there to an atom. Finally, we need to generate some protons. What we don’t see in the above diagram is what produces the neutron, protons! So we should be able to the neutrons to the neutrinos and generate our desired protons. This one won’t require an atom, just the particles.

Bang, we have all we need to make atoms! Again, very theoretically under the right conditions and an infinite amount of everything. We can now make anything. For example, let us make some Lithium, a metal but a simple element. For every atom, we will need 3 protons, 3 electrons and 4 neutrons. So we can take a load of photons and hence produce some parts to make some atoms. We can now mix up the particles and make up the atoms.

Given what we did with Lithium, we can now make any atom. So anything can be made out of nothing! One big caveat here, whatever you make, there will be an anti-version of that thing. 

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