The Void

The Void

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
An eminent scientist takes readers on an accessible odyssey in search of the concept of "nothing" that journeys from ancient ideas and cultural traditions to the latest scientific research, revealing how scientists have studied the void and discussing the history of the vacuum, theories on the nature of time and space, and other discoveries.

Book News
Written for any reader interested in scientific conundrums, this small volume contains a wealth of fascinating ideas about nothingness and the history of their study. Vacuums, space, air, and the notion that nature abhors a vacuum are among the things discussed in lucid prose and accompanied by drawings and diagrams. Close (physics, Oxford U., the UK), who has a published extensively on particle physics, has also won awards for making physics accessible to the public. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell North Amer
'Nature abhors a vacuum', or so it was believed. From early efforts to create a perfect vacuum, the exploration of nothingness has driven scientists towards a deeper understanding of the nature of matter, space and time. From this striving came the development of the concept of fields, and the idea of the 'aether', which was thought to permeate all space, and was blown away by Einstein's work on relativity. Subsequent developments show that nothingness may be richer still, a seething vacuum full of virtual particles appearing and disappearing, and something like the old aether may be making a comeback as the 'Higgs Field'. The structure of even spacetime itself may be far more complex than meets the eye.
In this book, particle physicist and writer Frank Close tells the story of scientists' efforts to understand the Void. It is an account that begins with the ancient Greek philosophers and takes us through to the frontiers of modern science; from the absolute zero of temperature to the unimaginable heat of the Big Bang; from quantum uncertainty and curled up dimensions to the vastness of the cosmos. We are discovering that by seeking to understand the nature of the Void, we are confronting the enigma of why anything should exist at all.

Oxford University Press
What is the void? 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 understanding that the vacuum is filled with fields; 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. It compares the ways that substances change from gas to liquid and solid with the way that the vacuum of our universe has changed as the temperature dropped following the Big Bang. It covers modern ideas that there may be more dimensions to the void than those that we currently are aware of and even that our universe is but one in a multiverse.
The Void takes us inside a field of science that may ultimately provide answers to some of cosmology's most fundamental questions: what lies outside the universe, and, if there was once nothing, then how did the universe begin?

Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2007
Description: ix, 166 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9780199225903
Branch Call Number: 530.1 Clo


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