Art. 09 – Vol. 25 – No. 1 – 2015

Quantum Foam and Anaximander

Roman Chirilă

National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics – ICI Bucharest

Abstract: When we take a look at a bit of space 1 ten-millionth of a billionth of a meter (10-16), which is within the dimensions of the single proton, and a speck of time 1 millionth of the billionth of the billionth of a second (10-24), which is less time than it takes light to go from one side of the proton to the other, we’ll observe an expected frenzied dance of particles, the quantum fluctuations that give an strong vigor to the world of the very small. But such effects on the large scale of space and time we see nothing but glassy smooth aspect. When we go deeper and deeper, at the Planck length (10-33 cm) and Planck time (5 × 10-44 s, i. e. the time needed for light to move through one Planck length) our ordinary ideas of length and time would evaporate remaining a quantum foam state as a kind of chaos of weird space-time geometries.

Quantum foam is considered to be the fabric of the Universe, but cannot be observed yet because it is too small. Also, quantum foam is theorized to be created by virtual particles of very high energy, arising briefly and then annihilating during particle interactions. These “vacuum fluctuations” affect the properties of the vacuum itself, giving it a nonzero energy known as vacuum energy or Zero-Point Energy. One of the most interesting aspects of vacuum energy is that, calculated in quantum field theory, it is infinite! Therefore, this finding implies that the vacuum of space is not an empty space but could be an enormous source of energy. The existence of quantum vacuum can be proved experimentally. The Casimir effect and other effects are also described in the paper. On the other hand, Max Born, in commenting upon Werner Heisenberg’s arriving at the idea that the elementary particles of quantum mechanics are to be seen as different quantum states of one and the same primordial substance proposed that this primordial substance to be called apeiron as well as Anaximander postulated it with over two thousand years ago.

Anaximander  was a pre-Socratic Greekphilosopher who belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. In physics, his postulation that the apeiron (indefinite, infinite, or limitless) was the source of all things led Greek philosophy to a new level of conceptual abstraction for the first time in history. Anaximander understood the beginning or first principle to be an endless, unlimited primordial mass (apeiron), subject to neither old age nor decay, that perpetually yielded fresh materials from which everything we perceive is derived.

View full article

Physicist Carl Sagan claims that he conducted the earliest recorded scientific experiment. In the present paper the obvious similarities between quantum foam and Anaximander’s apeiron are discussed. Perhaps among these ideas we can find out how the Universe came into being. So, should we back to the apeiron?

Keywords: Planck length, Planck time, quantum foam, femtophysics, vacuum fluctuations, zero point energy, Anaximander’s apeiron, Casimir, Lamb, Delbrück, Unruh effects.


  1. WHEELER, J. A.; FORD, K.: Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1998.
  2. GLEICK, J.: Isaac Newton. Editura Publica, 2011.
  3. DIRAC, P. A. M.: General Theory of Relativity. Wiley & Sons, 1975.
  4. PURICA, I.: Ordo ab Chao. Structuri de ordine în fizică şi societate. Editura Tehnică, 1996.
  5. PIATKOWSKI, ADELINA; BANU, I. (coord.): Filosofia greacă până la Platon, vol. 1, partea 1. Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, 1979.
  6. MINCĂ, B.: Scufundătorii din Delos. Heidegger şi primii filosofi. Editura Humanitas, 2010.
  7. MORRIS, R.: The Edges of Science. Crossing the Boundary from Physics to Metaphysics. Prentice Hall Press, 1990; Fourth Estate Ltd, London, 1992.
  8. HAWKING, S.: A Brief History of Time. From the Big Bang to Black Holes, New York, Bantam, 1988 (Scurtă Istorie a Timpului. De la Big Bang la Găurile Negre. Humanitas, 1994).
  9. WEINBERG, S.: The First Three Minutes. A Modern View of The Origin of The Universe. Basic Books, Inc. N. Y., 1977; Bantam, N. Y., 1984 (Primele Trei Minute ale Universului. Un Punct de Vedere Modern Asupra Originii Universului. Editura Politică, 1984).
  10. FLORESCU, VIORICA: Lecţii de Mecanică Cuantică, vol. I, II. Editura Universităţii, Bucureşti, 2007.
  11. BRANSDEN, B. H.; JOACHAIN, C. J.: Introducere în Mecanica Cuantică. Editura Tehnică, 1995, 1999.
  12. CHOWN, M.: The Universe Next Door. Twelve mind-blowing ideas from the cutting edge of science. Headline Book Publishing, 2002.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.