This title is not available through the Templeton Press online ordering system. It may be purchased through Yale University Press or by visiting your favorite bookstore! Retail: $26.00 ISBN: 978-0-300-20998-3
James Owen Weatherall’s previous book, The Physics of Wall Street, was a New York Times best-seller and named one of Physics Today’s five most intriguing books of 2013.
In his newest volume, he takes on a fundamental concept of modern physics: nothing. The physics of stuff—protons, neutrons, electrons, and even quarks and gluons—is at least somewhat familiar to most of us. But what about the physics of nothing?
Isaac Newton thought of empty space as nothingness extended in all directions, a kind of theater in which physics could unfold. But both quantum theory and relativity tell us that Newton’s picture can’t be right. Nothing, it turns out, is an awful lot like something, with a structure and properties every bit as complex and mysterious as matter.
In his signature lively prose, Weatherall explores the very nature of empty space—and solidifies his reputation as a science writer to watch.
“Jim Weatherall’s account of the ‘science of the vacuum’ covers some of the most fascinating aspects of physics with a unique combination of insight, reliability and wit: a pleasure to read for the curious reader and an invaluable source for scientists and philosophers.“
“The scholarship is excellent… . Useful, educational, and entertaining.”
“Weatherall deftly explains in a very accessible, comprehensible, and clear manner all you wanted to know about nothingness—a.k.a. the quantum vacuum—but were afraid to ask.”
“In this brief, elegant book, James Weatherall shows just how rich nothing has become in the physics since the seventeenth century. Here you will find a concise inquiry into the meaning of absolute space, the surprising existence of gravity waves, and the fluctuating, even polarizable spacetime vacuum of modern particle physics. An enjoyable read, set in historical vignettes, with a fine, no-jargon stress on philosophical significance.”
“Science progresses, but the words we use to talk about the world—and phrases like ‘empty space’—often stay the same. James Owen Weatherall tells the fascinating story of how our conception of nothing-ness has changed over the centuries, culminating with its central position in modern field theory and quantum gravity.”
“The problem of the vacuum goes back more than 2,000 years and continues into the present. In “Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing,” James Owen Weatherall, a philosopher at the University of California, Irvine, gives a wide-ranging and concise account of this remarkable story… . Against the plethora of popular writers who cast science as a series of incomprehensible wonders, Mr. Weatherall stands out by combining philosophical sophistication with an admirable ability to explain difficult concepts in plain, direct terms without oversimplifying. He presents cogent arguments, not just surprising results. Above all, he is aware of the importance of deep questions, which remain urgent and consequential even in the aftermath of powerful theories or explanations.”