Nothing comes from nothing

Nothing comes from nothing (Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit) is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as presented not just in the opus of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every philosophical system – there is no time interval in which a world didn't exist, since it couldn't be created ex nihilo in the first place. Note that Greeks also believed that things cannot disappear into nothing, just as they can't be created from nothing, but if they ceased to exist, they transform into some other form of being. We can trace this idea to the teaching of Empedocles. Today the idea is loosely associated with the laws of conservation of mass and energy.


De Rerum Natura

The Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius expressed this principle in his first book of De Rerum Natura (eng. title On the Nature of Things)

Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet,
nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam.[1]

English translation:

But only Nature's aspect and her law,
Which, teaching us, hath this exordium:
Nothing from nothing ever yet was born.[2]

He then continues on discussing how matter is required to make matter and that objects cannot spring forth without reasonable cause.

Nam si de nihilo fierent, ex omnibus rebus
omne genus nasci posset, nil semine egeret.
e mare primum homines, e terra posset oriri
squamigerum genus et volucres erumpere caelo;[3]

English translation

Suppose all sprang from all things: any kind
Might take its origin from any thing,
No fixed seed required. Men from the sea
Might rise, and from the land the scaly breed,
And, fowl full fledged come bursting from the sky;[4]

King Lear

In William Shakespeare's King Lear, the king says, "Nothing will come of nothing" to his daughter Cordelia, meaning that as long as she says nothing to flatter him, she will receive nothing from him.[5] Later, Lear nearly repeats the line, saying, "Nothing can be made out of nothing" (Act 1.1 and Act 1.4 respectively).

"KING LEAR: ..what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
CORDELIA: Nothing, my lord.
KING LEAR: Nothing?!
CORDELIA: Nothing.
KING LEAR: Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

The Sound of Music

In Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music (film) as Captain Von Trapp sings the song Something Good they both sing the line "Nothing comes from nothing nothing ever could" in reference to their childhood's influence on their relationship.

Modern physics

The law of conservation of energy state that no energy is created nor destroyed, it merely changes form. A zero-energy universe hypothesis states that the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero. That is the only kind of universe that could come from nothing.[6][7] Such a universe needs to be flat which was confirmed by observations with a 0.5% margin of error.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Lucretius, Titus. "Book 1" (in Latin). De Rerum Natura. Line 149: The Latin Library. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Lucretius, Titus; Leonard, William Ellery. "Book 1" (in English). De Rerum Natura. Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Lucretius, Titus. "Book 1" (in Latin). De Rerum Natura. Line 159: The Latin Library. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Lucretius, Titus; Leonard, William Ellery. "Book 1" (in English). De Rerum Natura. Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Commentary on King Lear by Dr. Larry A. Brown, Professor of theater
  6. ^ "A Universe from Nothing". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Retrieved 10 March 2010.  by Alexei V. Filippenko and Jay M. Pasachoff
  7. ^ Berman, Marcelo Samuel (2009). "On the Zero-energy Universe". International Journal of Theoretical Physics (International Journal of Theoretical Physics) 48 (11): 3278. arXiv:gr-qc/0605063. Bibcode 2009IJTP..tmp..162B. doi:10.1007/s10773-009-0125-8. 
  8. ^ "Will the Universe expand forever?". NASA. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nothing Really Matters — Single by Madonna from the album Ray of Light …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing Important Happened Today — The X Files episode Carl Wormus being dragged under water by Shannon McMahon …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing Personal (album) — Nothing Personal Studio album by All Time Low Released July 7, 2009 …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing Lasts... But Nothing Is Lost — Nothing Lasts ... But Nothing is Lost Studio album by Shpongle Released June 16, 2005 …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing to Envy —   Author(s) …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing Short of a Bullet — Live album by The Lowest of the Low Released 2001 Recorded 2000 Genre Indie rock …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing — None redirects here. For other uses, see None (disambiguation). For other uses, see Nothing (disambiguation). Nothing is no thing,[1] denoting the absence of something. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness,[1] is also an adjective,… …   Wikipedia

  • ...Nothing Like the Sun — For the Anthony Burgess novel, see Nothing Like the Sun: A Story of Shakespeare s Love Life. ...Nothing Like the Sun Studio album by Sting …   Wikipedia

  • Nothing Lasts...But Nothing Is Lost — Infobox Album | Name = Nothing Lasts... But Nothing Is Lost Type = Album Artist = Shpongle Released = June 16 2005 Recorded = Genre = Psybient, IDM Length = 67:30 Label = Twisted Records Producer = Simon Posford and Raja Ram Reviews = *… …   Wikipedia

  • …Nothing Like the Sun — Infobox Album Name = ...Nothing Like the Sun Type = Studio album Artist = Sting Recorded = March August 1987 Released = start date|1987|10|13 Genre = Rock, Jazz, New Wave Length = 54:45 Label = A M 75021 6402 2 Producer = Sting, Hugh Padgham,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.