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The Universe can be objectively defined as matter in motion

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/4/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,171 times Debate No: 69427
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
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The most accurate and objective way to define the Universe is matter in motion. Or if you prefer a more scientific definition: Universe = Elementary Particles + Fundamental Forces.

I believe there is not a more simplistic, objective, or holistic way to define the Universe.

I am not big on debate rules, so use the rounds however you please.


Thank you Pro for presenting this debate.

To begin, I really have no idea were this debate is headed. So I'll just begin with a small opening argument and see where this takes us. I think the correct interpretation of reality is presented by Quantum Field Theory (QFT). QFT basically states that the universe consists of fields that give rise to all aspects of the universe. QFT states that at any given point, including a point in which no objects exist, there are fields with specific values at that point. ElectroMagnetic Field, as an example, has a value at all points in space. In empty space, the EMF might have a value of zero. Near a planet, such as the Earth, the EMF takes on specific values due to a rotating iron core in the Earth. The Higgs Field is a field that exists in all locations in space. However, unlike the EMF, the Higgs Field has a non zero value in empty space. If QFT is correct, the elementary particles aren't elementary. They have a source, and that source is the fields that give rise to the particles.

Since Pro has offered a definition to the universe (Universe=Elementary Particles+Fundamental Forces) and this is a debate, I guess I should offer my own definition of the universe.


I think this definition is simpler than my opponents, for a few reasons. One, space is required for a universe to exist. In my opponents definition he doesn't include space. Where do those particles exist? Where does those fundamental forces exist? Two, E=MC2. Energy is what produces matter. Without energy, there is no matter. With no matter, there can still be energy. Therefore, energy is more fundamental than matter. The Higgs field has a positive energy value (126 GEV) and isn't considered matter.

Conclusion, space/location is required for anything to exist. Space is fundamental. Energy gives rise to matter. Energy is fundamental.

I'll turn it over to Pro and see where he wishes to take this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Great opening argument. You touched on some of the most ground breaking theories in quantum physics.

Let me start be addressing the fact that we most likely agree that the observable Universe consists of matter, and that that matter is in motion. I don't believe that to be debatable. Every thing we see is made of elementary particles, making up the atoms, making up the molecules and cells, and it is all moving. Even if it appears still, that is only because it is surrounded by matter moving at exactly the same speed. If you plotted your computer monitor in three dimensional (Euclidean) space at 8am, the coordinates of that monitor would be different at 8:01am. This is obviously because the Earth is moving through space, as is the Sun and the entire galaxy.

So, assuming that we both agree that the Universe consists of moving matter, you decided to address a deeper aspect of this topic by defining the cause, or source of that moving matter. You proposed the very intriguing and much discussed Quantum Field Theory to define this source. QFT essentially describes an invisible blue print that guides the construction of the Universe. A vast web of electromagnetic framework from which all that exists is derived and guided. Let's go with that. I won't dispute the existence of fields or their profound influence on the Universe. What I dispute is that somehow these fields, these electromagnetic forces, do not exist as matter in the physical world. I believe that everything in existence, including force fields and energy, consist of matter. There is even a working theory claiming that the force of gravity consists of gravity particles. The Higgs Boson discovery and Feynman diagrams are also monumental is showing that even force has a carrier particle. So I won't dispute that QFT may be the primary source or creator of the elementary particles. What I am suggesting is that these fields are also made of matter, perhaps even smaller and more elementary than the elementary particles we have already discovered.

I would also like to address my definition: Universe = Elementary Particles + Fundamental Forces. This was not intended to be my official formula to define the Universe. It was intended to be a more scientific way of saying, matter in motion. It is entirely my fault for not clarifying that. You are absolutely correct. Space is a part of the Universe. It's not just what the matter is in, space is also interlaced throughout and in between the matter as well. Although I am curious as to one thing. If there were no matter (or energy as you put it), only space, an infinite empty vacuum; would we consider that a Universe? Would we consider it anything at all?

I also wanted to address your interpretation of E = MC2. You seemed to imply that this formula illustrates how energy creates matter. That energy is the source from which matter emerges.
Con: "Energy is what produces matter. Without energy, there is no matter."
I disagree. I believe the formula was intended to show that energy can be converted to matter, and that matter can be converted to energy. E = MC2 is a conversion tool that essentially states that 1 matter consists of very large amounts of energy, and that 1 energy consists of very small amounts of matter. I believe that energy consists of matter. That they are one in the same; and I don't believe Einstein's formula disputes that belief.

I suppose the primary difference between our views is that you believe the most fundamental substance in the Universe is energy, whereas I believe it is matter. I believe this because if it doesn't consist of matter, what does it consist of? How does it exist? How can it be identified? How can it affect anything? What is it, if there is no IT? I look forward to your response.


Thank You Pro for that response.

The E=MC2 objection.

I probably wasn't clear enough on this point. I agree that the equation doesn't imply that energy gives rise to matter. The equation states an equivalence. Energy can be converted into matter. Matter can be converted into energy. Or perhaps two other options, energy is matter, matter is energy. The reason I included the equation was to establish a link between matter and energy. To make sure I'm clear here. The equation itself is stating an equivalence. I'm taking the position that energy gives rise to matter. I think it is energy that is fundamental. You seem to be of the opinion that matter is fundamental.

I'm also a bit confused by your actual position. One quote, "I believe everything in existence, including force fields and energy, consists of matter." Another quote, "E=MC2 is a conversion tool that essentially states that 1 matter consists of very large amounts of energy, and that 1 energy consists of very small amounts of matter." Your position is that matter is all that exists, if I understand it correctly. So lets replace energy with matter from that sentence, "...1 matter consists of very large amounts of matter (was energy), and that 1 matter (was energy) consists of very small amounts of matter." If I understand you correctly, you don't think energy exists? Is that correct?

The fun and interesting stuff, Nothing

Pro's quote, "If there were no matter/energy, only space, an infinite vacuum; would we consider that a Universe?" Yes, we would consider that a universe. Why not? A universe is understood to be everything that exists. In this universe that would mean only space. It is just a universe with nothing in it. I spent 3 months trying to imagine nothing or finding a logical way to it. The best I could get was an infinite vacuum. I then read two books on nothing, "The Book of Nothing," John D. Barrow and "The Hole in the Universe," K.C. Cole. Neither book went any further than the vacuum. I suspect the vacuum is the end of the line. The primary foundation of the universe is empty space. We find space everywhere we look. At no time or place, has the absence of space ever been observed or arrived at logically. I have a glass that is empty, except that emptiness is filled with space. I pore water into the glass, filling it. However, the water needs a place to be, space. There is still space in the glass. Space is the most fundamental and abundant thing in the universe. Space is the foundation of everything. A few quotes from "The Hole in the Universe."

"Nothing is the stage of which everything plays out on." [1]

"He who understands nothing, understands everything." [1]

Nothing is referring to empty space in these quotes.

I think we should begin with the understanding that space is the most important and abundant thing in the universe. Not even pure matter can exist without it.

So we are in disagreement over what we see in the universe. I say, energy, you say matter. Let me make a case for energy being more fundamental than matter. Currently aprx. 73% of the universe consists of dark energy, 23% dark matter, 4% ordinary matter. [2] Even the 4% ordinary matter is more energy than matter. 99.9999999999996% of an atom is fields or forces. Radio active decay is when an atom emits energy, matter breaking down into energy. Radio signals, are they matter or energy? If they are matter, how do we make sense of higher frequencies (aka higher energy) and lower frequencies (aka lower energy)? A photon is considered to be mass less energy. A photon moves in a wave form. How could mass less matter travel in a wave? It stand to reason energy would be required at all times to control the oscillating wave. If the photon is matter, moving in a wave form, what is causing the matter to constantly be changing it's position, through the cycle of the wave? Radioactive decay is where an atom loses energy by emitting radiation. Matter can decay into energy. With the present expansion of the universe, it is predicted that in 1-2 trillion years, all matter will decay into radiation. [3] The universe will be empty of all matter.

The cosmological constant/vacuum energy. This appears to be a property of space. Empty space has energy in it.

I think it is more likely than not, that it is energy that is fundamental to the universe.

I'm going to turn this back to you and see where you take it. I think we may have a definitions problem though.

1. The Hole in the Universe, K.C. Cole

3. A Universe From Nothing, Lawrence Krauss
Debate Round No. 2


I will begin with the core disagreement in this debate. Con believes that at the most fundamental level, everything is made of energy, and that energy does not consist of matter. Whereas I believe at the fundamental level, everything is made of matter. Regarding the substance of the Universe, I don't think it can be broken down any further than this. Con brought up radio waves, frequencies, dark energy, atomic force fields, decay and radiation. He believes that these things do not consist of matter. That they have no physical structure or identity. I disagree. Even if these structures are too small for our current technologies to observe or measure, I believe they exist.

Long ago, the wind's influence on a tree must have been viewed as an invisible force. Long ago, we were completely unaware of the cells that make up our bodies until the microscope allowed us to observe these cells. We were completely unaware of the elections and atoms that make up everything until the development of the hadron collider allowed us to observe these things. We have recently discovered even more elementary particals such as quarks, bosons, fermions, and leptons. What we continue to discover is that even at the smallest, most invisible levels of existence, particles of matter are still the primary building blocks. As I mentioned previously, the Higgs Boson discovery showed that even force has a carrier particle consisting of mass. The discovery also explains "why some fundamental particles have mass even though the symmetries controlling their interactions should require them to be massless..." (Wikipedia). I believe that radioactive decay consists of mass as well. Similar to water evaporating into vapor, but on a much smaller scale. You spoke of the photon and its wave like properties, but failed to mention that almost every physicist who has studied the photon also classifies it as a particle. In almost every example you give, I believe that at the smallest level, matter is present.

You asked if I believed in the existence of energy. Yes, I believe that energy exist, and that it exists as a very specific type of matter. In the same way that rocks are different combinations of atoms than trees, energy has a physical structure that differs from an electromagnetic field, or high frequency wave. Physicist define energy as the capacity of a physical system to perform work. For that to be true, I believe that energy itself would have to be a physical system. If not, how would it influence and affect other physical systems? I think we both agree that energy causes movement. My fundamental question to you would be, if energy has no physical identity, how can affect physical objects? How can an invisible, massless domino knock over an ordinary domino?

Again, if energy, magnetic fields, waves, and radiation don't consist of matter, what do they consist of? What gives them structure and identifiable qualities? How do they have an effect on anything? These are the kinds of questions I am interested in exploring.

Wikipedia. Higgs Boson.


I think what is energy, what is matter, are good questions to ask. We can notice how they interact within the world, we can notice what they do, but what are they on a fundamental level is still in question. What is energy? What is matter? We are in disagreement over these questions. If matter is everything, and energy doesn't exist, than what is matter made of? Other matter. What is that made of? Other matter. What is that matter made of? Other matter. We fall into an infinite regress. The same seems true with energy. What is energy? Other types of energy. What is that energy? Other types of energy. Both sides seems to have a similar issue with the fundamental makings of both. Maybe we should look at the definitions.
Matter [1]
1. The substance of which any physical object consists of
2. Physical substance in general, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous
3. Something that occupies space
4. A particular kind of substance.
Energy [2]
"In physics, energy is a property of objects, transferable among them via fundamental interactions, which can be converted into different forms but not created or destroyed." "Work and heat are two categories of processes or mechanisms that transfer a given amount of energy." "Common forms include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the radiant energy carried by light and other electromagnetic radiation, the potential energy stored by virtue of the position of an object in a force field..."
Matter definition three: Something that occupies space. In the Standard Model of Particle physics, bosons don't occupy space. Based on the definitions of matter and energy, a boson isn't considered matter. Bosons are force carriers, yet don't meet the definition of matter. A magnetic field has force in it, but it doesn't need to have matter in the field. Force fields aren't considered matter. Atoms are largely force fields, strong force, weak force. Most of an atom is made of something that doesn't meet the defintion of matter.
Matter definition two: Physical substance in general, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous. Once again, in the Standard Model a photon has no mass, doesn't occupy any space, and isn't solid, liquid, or gas. A photon (of which the universe is filled with, flying about in various energy frequencies) isn't considered matter.
We see from the above definitions, that one aspect of energy, is that it does work. (Based on sourced definitions) This aspect isn't included in the definition of matter. If we were to go out into the voids between galaxy clusters, we would find nothing the matches the definition of matter. But we would find vacuum energy that is doing work, driving distant galaxies apart, and most likely a direct player in the expansion of the universe. By definition this dominating force isn't matter, it is some form of energy and it makes up 73% of the universe.
The physics community seems to accept that there is a clear difference between energy and matter. They seem directly linked, as the splitting of the atom demonstrates. But they are understood to be different things. Whether it's Einstein's equation, E=MC2, Einstein seems to think energy exists. Or all the others, Maxwell, Faraday, Bohr, Feynman, who find energy a significant player in the universe. I haven't seen any writings from these pillars of physics that argue matter is the fundamental player in the universe.
Ordinary matter, that matter of which we are made, the matter of which we are familiar, contains large amounts of energy. If we can go out to the void, find no matter, and find an abundance of energy, then travel to the the densest star, and find matter which contains enormous amounts of energy, it seems to me, it is energy that is the most prevalent. Energy exists where matter doesn't, the voids, matter exist along with energy within in physical substances. We have energy everywhere, to varying degrees, and we don't have matter everywhere. (based on definitions) This seems to me to point to energy as being a more fundamental property than matter.
The debate began with the position that the "Universe can be objectively defined as matter in motion." This definition of the universe seems to leave out the two most fundamental components of the universe. First and foremost, space. Without space, there is no universe, no matter, no energy. Space must be a key player in any definition of the universe. And then there is energy. We can find energy in matter. We can find energy where there is no matter. It seems as though energy also fills all points in space. Where there is nothing, we have vacuum energy. Where there is matter, we also have energy. I think this places energy above matter and should supersede matter in the definition.

Debate Round No. 3


For my final argument I would like to zoom out from the matter/energy argument and instead focus on my initial claim: The most objective way to define the Universe is matter in motion. From this statement I derived a formula, Universe = Elementary Particles (matter) + Fundamental Forces (motion). Con astutely noticed that I forgot about space. Con is absolutely right. Space should be included in that definition and I foolishly took for granted that space was a given. So here is my revised formula for the simplest, most objective way to define the Universe.
Universe = Space + Matter + Motion
Up to this point in the debate, I don't believe this has been proven untrue. Furthermore, Con has yet to provided a better definition that proves to be more objective.

Regarding the energy/matter sub argument. Con believes that energy is the most fundamental property of the Universe and that it does not consist of matter. He talks about how physicists define it as the ability for matter to do work, a force that is transferred from one object to the next. Essentially, what Con, and many physicist believe, is that energy is what gives life to matter. It's what causes it to move. Hot items (high energy) are more active than low energy items. The ability to work means the ability to move. The ability to interact, or affect, is the ability to move. Basically, energy could be defined as the cause of motion. On a side note, I believe there to be a different cause for motion, the fundamental force of balance. This is a theory of mine which I explored in a previous debate titled, The Purpose of All Things in Motion is to Seek Balance. But aside from that, let's just say that energy is massless, and it is the cause of all motion. That would still comply with my definition. Just substitute "motion" for the more specific term "energy," or you could sub in the physicists preferred cause of motion, "the four fundamental forces," or my preferred cause, "balance." Either way, these are all attempting to define the same thing, motion. From an observational perspective we can only be sure of two things that occur everywhere in the Universe, there is stuff in space, and that stuff is moving. The stuff in space is about as objective as it gets; however, the moving part is what's difficult to define. That is why I believe the most simplistic, objective way to define it, is to simply refer to it as movement, or motion. When you start delving into the cause of that movement (energy, balance, force fields, etc.), it becomes more complex, and less objective. But no one can argue that motion is an inaccurate description of what that matter is doing.

So, the challenge for Con is 1) Proving that my definition of the Universe: Space + Matter + Motion, is inadequate, and 2) defining the missing or inaccurate components of my definition, and how those components cannot be classified as either space, matter, or an agent of motion. According to Cons definition of the Universe, Universe = vacuum (space) + energy, Con believes that there is only space and energy. Since energy has no mass and doesn't occupy space, according to Con, how can it be the only thing that exists. Clearly there are objects with varying degrees of mass and space occupation. If Con says that those items are made of a lot of energy, I would say zero multiplied by a trillion is still zero. If energy consists of no matter, then no amount of energy could construct even the smallest particle of matter.

In closing, the equation, Universe = Space + Matter + Motion, accurately and objectively encompasses every aspect of the Universe. I believe that everything in existence can be classified as either space, a particle of matter, or an agent of motion. I now leave it up to Con show that either one of those categories does not belong, or that there are other categories that are missing. I want to thank Con for this debate, as I thoroughly enjoyed the exchange.


First I would like to begin by thanking Pro for this debate. Thank you Pro. I would also like to thank Pro for completing the debate. Thank you for that as well Pro.

To begin this final round, I would like to clear a few things up concerning this debate. Pro wrote the proposition. Pro is the instigator of this debate. The burden is on Pro to support and argue for his proposition. Pro, quote round 4, "Furthermore, Con has yet to [provide] a better definition that proves more objective." (I did in round 1, and at the end of this round, although not required by Con) As this debate is set up, that isn't a responsibility of mine. In this debate, Pro is to argue that his proposition is correct. Con is to argue that the proposition isn't correct. There is no place where Pro states, "Con must argue for his own definition over this one."
Words have meanings. It is important to adhere to the meanings of words in order to communicate effectively. If we all walk around with our own definitions of things, communication would become impossible. In Pro's last round he gets very loose with the definition of motion. "Just substitute "motion" for the more specific term "energy"..." Lets use some examples to see if this makes sense. Instead of "I just got my energy bill," we get, "I just got my motion bill." Instead of, "I'm dragging today, I need an energy drink." we get, I'm dragging today, I need a motion drink." Instead of, "The Sun rains down lots of energy on the Earth," we get, "The Sun rains down lots of motion on the Earth." One last one, instead of, "Energy=MC2," we get, "Motion=MC2." Do any of these make sense? Pro, what does a Kilowatt of energy covert to in motion? Is it a kilowatt of motion? What does that even mean?
Energy has a definition. Based on that definition, energy exists. Pro has dismissed energy entirely from the universe. Since the vast majority of the world, educated or not, seems to be in agreement that energy exists, Pro would have needed to present some very strong evidence that this global consensus is wrong. That hasn't happen in this debate. I've presented several arguments that support the perspective of energy existing and being prevalent in the universe. These include Einstein's equation E=MC2, cosmologies assessment that the universe comprises of 73% dark energy, and the Higgs field having a positive energy value of 126 GEV and existing at all points in space.. None of these have been refuted or even argued against by Pro. I've offered definitions of energy and matter, of which Pro hasn't contested. At this point, we can safely conclude energy exists, and is very prevalent in the universe, existing at all points to varying degrees.
To that degree, I think we have a clear verdict regarding this debate. Pro begins with his proposition, "The universe can be objectively defined as matter in motion." Pro the makes this a bit simpler in round 1 with this equation, "Universe=Elementary Particles+Fundamental Forces." I attack these points by arguing space is fundamental and stating it needs to be included in the definition. In round 4 Pro concedes this point and changes his equation, "Universe=Space+Matter+Motion." This is a concession that the original proposition and original equation wasn't correct, which is what Con is arguing. In addition to that, we still don't have energy in the equation. I think we have another concession with his redefinition of motion. "...substitute "motion" for the more specific term "energy." Two problems here. First, if energy is the more specific term, then energy should've been used in the first place. Second, as the earlier example sentences pointed out, this "substitution" doesn't make sense. Motion(doesn't equal)MC2, Energy(equals)MC2.
In conclusion, Pro's definition of the universe has left out the two most fundamental components of the universe: space, nothing can exist without it (Pro concedes this point), energy isn't included in the definition, despite existing at all points in space. This last point was never refuted by Pro. Therefore we are left with a clear case, both space and energy must be included in any "objective" definition of the universe.
Thank you readers. Thank you Pro for the debate.

A little extra credit.
I offered my definition of the universe in round 1. Universe=space+energy. With that I offer it again. Not needed, but provided just the same.
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by NoMagic 3 years ago
I'm by no means a physics expert. I have a very general knowledge of the larger concepts. However I do have a firm grasp on the Law of Non Contradiction.
Posted by captmurk 3 years ago
I'm glad you came to your senses regarding your inability to defend, or even define your accusations. Goodbye.
Posted by YassineB 3 years ago
- STFU, I am tired of this little children playing adults game. You are ignorants, acknowledge it & STFU. You speak about Physics like you're in primary school, what a joke. You know what, have at it, none of my business.
Posted by captmurk 3 years ago
You didn't say studying it, you said getting a degree in it. Why don't we skip this little game and you just tell us where we went wrong? Failing to do so will make your assertion, and presence, irrelevant.
Posted by YassineB 3 years ago
- NO, as in Yes, it's the only way.
Posted by YassineB 3 years ago
- You mean besides studying it, NO.
Posted by captmurk 3 years ago
Is that the only means to understanding physics?
Posted by YassineB 3 years ago
- Yes, get a degree in Fundamental Physics.
Posted by captmurk 3 years ago
Care to enlighten us?
Posted by YassineB 3 years ago
- Are you people sure you know Physics?!
No votes have been placed for this debate.