A Monkey Peeled an Onion - PhMuseum

A Monkey Peeled an Onion

Marjolein Blom

2016 - Ongoing


You take an onion and peel it and peel it, right to the heart, and there's Nothing there. There must be something, you believe, there must be – you take another onion and start peeling it, you keep on peeling, at last, Nothing... Do you understand the sadness of this monkey?'

Osamu Dazai from A Record of the Autumn Wind

Scientific theories - like those of quantum physics and the inner workings of our universe - seem to answer complicated questions about the mystery of creation. Every answer, however, is the starting point of a new enigma.

The vacuum is such a riddlesome concept. 'What is Nothing? And what remains if we take all matter, the earth, the stars, all molecules, atoms away? Can a true void exist?

The idea that through science, we might eventually reveal the nature of our existence is a very appealing thought. Understanding the vacuum would take us a big step closer to unravelling the forces in our universe.

At the same time, one could argue that the human habit to keep measuring, describing and testing, without obtaining any confirmation that we are coming closer to a final understanding of everything that surrounds us, feels somewhat absurd.

But the freedom to think beyond the imaginable is a prerequisite for scientists to challenge established truths and expand the boundaries of our knowledge. This process of searching, without preconceived notions of the outcome, is one of the keys to fundamental research.

'A Monkey Peeled an Onion' examines philosophical and scientific theories about nothingness, the vacuum and elementary particles. It is a work about the elusive nature of Nothing and a playful ode to the act of searching.

Even, or precisely just when we will find Nothing.

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