The Book of Nothing
Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
By John D. Barrow
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375726095, 384pp.)
Publication Date: August 13, 2002
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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.
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.
“Entertaining and informative... I am happy to report that nothing is full of interesting reading.” --New Scientist
“Convincing...authoritative . . . tells the story persuasively.” --Nature
“Barrow’s efforts to relate scientific developments to wider cultural themes must be applauded.” --Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Stuffed with wonderful stories. . . . [A] feast of clear thinking and fine writing.” —BookPage