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This short, smart book tells you everything you need to know about "nothing." What remains when you take all the matter away? Can empty space--"nothing"--exist? To answer these questions, eminent scientist Frank Close takes us on a lively and accessible journey that ranges from ancient ideas and cultural superstitions to the frontiers of current research, illuminating the story of how scientists have explored the void and the rich discoveries they have made there. Readers will find an enlightening history of the vacuum: how the efforts to make a better vacuum led to the discovery of the electron; the ideas of Newton, Mach, and Einstein on the nature of space and time; the mysterious aether and how Einstein did away with it; and the latest ideas that the vacuum is filled with the Higgs field. The story ranges from the absolute zero of temperature and the seething vacuum of virtual particles and anti-particles that fills space, to the extreme heat and energy of the early universe.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Series:||Very Short Introductions Series|
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Frank Close, OBE, is Professor of Physics at Oxford University and a Fellow of Exeter College and was formerly vice president of the British Association for Advancement of Science.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Nothing" seems to be the simplest of all notions, apparently requiring no thought whatsoever. It is what remains where everything is taken away. But a closer scrutiny reveals that "nothing" is not trivial as it may first seem. Is it physically possible to achieve such a thing as the absence of all matter? Even if possible, is what remains a truly empty space? And what is space anyway - is it possible to talk about it in the absence of matter? It is these and related questions that this short book tries to answer. It takes the reader on a journey from philosophical and speculative ideas of classic antiquity, to the most advanced frontiers of modern theoretical and experimental Physics. For a book of its size it covers a lot of ground. It explains where the notion that "the nature abhors vacuum" comes from, and how it took almost two thousand years to refute it by actually creating the first known artificial vacuum. The book explains how the ideas about the vacuum have evolved over the centuries, and in particular what an effect the discoveries of quantum mechanics and general relativity have had on it. Today we believe that even the perfect vacuum is strictly speaking not completely empty, and it is a rather complicated and complex entity. The book concludes with some of the current Physics speculations and how they may pertain to our ideas about "nothing." The book is written in an interesting and easy-flowing style, and it does not overwhelm the reader with technical details and arcane jargon. There are hardly any equations in it, and the ones that are present are straightforward and used in order to illustrate a point that otherwise would be too cumbersome to describe. Overall, this is a very good book with a fresh and engaging perspective.
Helps to know some particle physics and cosmology. A good read on a fascinating topic. Well constructed.