Why is there something? Anything? Instead of nothing?

NPR asks the biggest question of all – the original question. Look around. Why is there something instead of nothing?:

The best answer we have at this point is that the Universe emerged spontaneously from a random quantum fluctuation in some sort of primordial quantum vacuum, the scientific equivalent of “nothing.” However, this quantum vacuum is a very loaded nothing: it assumes the whole machinery of quantum field theory, the modern description of how elementary particles of matter interact with one another, was already in operation.

In the quantum realm, even the lowest energy state, the “vacuum,” is not empty. Even if the energy of a quantum system is zero, it is never really zero due to the inherent quantum fluctuations about this state. A zero energy quantum state is as impossible as a perfectly still lake, with absolutely no disturbances on its surface. This quantum jitteriness amounts to fluctuations on the value of the energy; if one of these fluctuations is unstable it may grow big, like a soap bubble that blows itself up. The energy remains zero on average because of a clever interplay between the positive energy of matter and the negative energy of attractive gravity. This is the result that physicists like Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Mikio Kaku and others speak of when they state that the “universe came out of quantum nothingness,” or something to that extent.

Contrary to the origin of life question, we can’t step out of the Universe to examine it from the outside in. At best, and this should be quite enough for a scientific explanation of cosmic origins, a model for the quantum origin of the Universe should lead to a cosmos compatible with current observations.

There isn’t any particular answer here. Just different ways of looking at the question. Enjoy your April Fools.

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