The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 20, 2009 - Science - 384 pages
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What conceptual blind spot kept the ancient Greeks (unlike the Indians and Maya) from developing a concept of zero? Why did St. Augustine equate nothingness with the Devil? What tortuous means did 17th-century scientists employ in their attempts to create a vacuum? And why do contemporary quantum physicists believe that the void is actually seething with subatomic activity? You’ll find the answers in this dizzyingly erudite and elegantly explained book by the English cosmologist John D. Barrow.

Ranging through mathematics, theology, philosophy, literature, particle physics, and cosmology, The Book of Nothing explores the enduring hold that vacuity has exercised on the human imagination. Combining high-wire speculation with a wealth of reference that takes in Freddy Mercury and Shakespeare alongside Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking, the result is a fascinating excursion to the vanishing point of our knowledge.


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THE BOOK OF NOTHING: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Much ado about, well, nothing.Cambridge mathematician Barrow (Pi in the Sky, 1992, etc.) has established a reputation as a lucid explicator of difficult numerical and cosmological problems. Here he ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DaveFragments - LibraryThing

One day, they had to explain to Queen Elixabeth that Otto Von Guericke had created a vacuum inside two glass hamispherical globes and that teams of horses couldn't pull the halves apart. The Queen took note of nothing. :0 Read full review

Contents

Zero The hole Story
12
Z Much Ado About Nothing
49
Constructing Nothing
89
The Drift Towards the Ether
115
Empty Universes
167
The Box That Can Never Be Empty
193
HOW Many Vacuums Are There?
230
The Beginning and the End of the 1cuuni
272
Notes
303
Index
350
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About the author (2009)

John D. Barrow is research professor of mathematical sciences in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. His previous books include Theories of Everything, The Artful Universe, Impossibility, Between Inner and Outer Space, The Universe That Discovered Itself, and The Origin of the Universe. He lives in England.

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