Posted: Oct 09, 2011 5:29 pm
by Teuton
I think we cannot help but regard spacetime itself as a plenum rather than a vacuum (in the literal sense), i.e. as a kind of (postmechanistic) ether, i.e. as an ur-stuff or ur-matter that is the fundamental substantial medium and matrix of physical reality.

"About the time relativity was becoming accepted, studies of radioactivity began showing that the empty vacuum of space had spectroscopic structure similar to that of ordinary quantum solids and fluids. Subsequent studies with large particle accelerators have now led us to understand that space is more like a piece of window glass than ideal Newtonian emptiness. It is filled with 'stuff' that is normally transparent but can be made visible by hitting it sufficiently hard to knock out a part. The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo."

(Laughlin, Robert B. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics From the Bottom Down. New York: Basic Books, 2005. p. 121)