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The Void [Kindle Edition]

Frank Close
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What is 'the void'? What remains when you take all the matter away? Can empty space - 'nothing' - exist? This little book explores the science and the history of the elusive void: from Aristotle's theories to black holes and quantum particles, and why our very latest discoveries about the vacuum can tell us extraordinary things about the cosmos. - ;What is 'the void'? What remains when you take all the matter away? Can empty space - 'nothing' - exist? This little book explores the science and the history of the elusive void: from Aristotle who insisted that the vacuum was impossible, via the theories of Newton and Einstein, to our very latest discoveries and why they can tell us extraordinary things about the cosmos.

Frank Close tells the story of how scientists have explored the elusive void, and the rich discoveries that they have made there. He takes the reader on a lively and accessible history through ancient ideas and cultural superstitions to the frontiers of current research. He describes how scientists discovered that the vacuum is filled with fields; how Newton, Mach, and Einstein grappled with the nature of space and time; and how the mysterious 'aether' that was long ago supposed to permeate the
void may now be making a comeback with the latest research into the 'Higgs field'.

We now know that the vacuum is far from being 'nothing' - it seethes with virtual particles and antiparticles that erupt spontaneously into being, and it also may contain hidden dimensions that we were previously unaware of. These new discoveries may 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? - ;It covers very complicated concepts in a mostly accessible way. - Lawrence Rudnick, Nature;A fascinating subject covered by a fascinating book. - Marcus Chown, Focus


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aristotle famously wrote that nature abhors a vacuum, but as Oxford physicist Close illustrates in this concise study, that depends on what you mean by a vacuum or a void. Greek and medieval philosophers gave philosophical arguments against the existence of the void, but an artificial vacuum was finally created in 1643 and quickly used to investigate atmospheric pressure. Scientific exploration of a vacuum's properties and applications took off in the 19th century, although ancient ideas like the concept of an ether that pervaded empty space masqueraded as serious science until Einstein explained them away via relativity. Close (Lucifer's Legacy) is a particle physicist at heart, and he hits his stride as he explains why scientists now don't think a void is really empty at all, but is teeming with particles popping in and out of existence and pervaded by a contemporary version of the ether, called the Higgs field. Close misses opportunities to make this a more rewarding interdisciplinary study that would attract a broader readership, and science buffs will find it redundant with other books in their collections. The moral of Close's book should be, as Nietzsche said, that when you look into the void, it really is looking back at you. 20 b&w illus. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review


"It's a nice read for people with little background knowledge"--New Scientist


"Close is a particle physicst at heart, and he hist his stride as he explains why scientists now don't think a void is really empty at all, but is teeming with particles popping in and out of existence and pervaded by contemporary version of the ether, called the Higgs field."--Publishers Weekly


"The Higgs boson remains the missing ingredient of the remarkably successful standard model of particle physics that describes interactions between the sub-nuclear elementary particles to an impressive precision, and The Void provides an introduction to the underlying concepts. It is nice to think that the explanations may help the physics community share its extraordinary excitement and anticipation with others."--The Times Higher Education Supplement



Product Details

  • File Size: 3908 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK (October 25, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005YMCBR4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,678 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(7)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By W. Metz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This little book covers a LOT of science in a pretty short amount of time. Another reviewer said that it deals rather less with the void than one might think from the title. While this is true, there isn't much that can be said about nothing without understanding that in the real universe, nothing is truly something after all. That said, there is a lot of explaining of "stuff" to get to explaining nothing, which leads the book to have a lot less nothing than you might expect.

That said, the science is very solid and quite clearly explained. However, having extensively studied physics and chemistry years ago, this read more like a refresher course to me. I didn't have too much trouble making sense of most of the science because I have been exposed to it in great depth (even though I may've forgotten some things). I worry that to the lay reader, the book would be extremely hard going, even as there are many analogies drawn, so I would put it closer to three stars for a reader with little or no science background.

Still, written well overall and with great clarity. An interesting concept.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A-voids getting to the point March 28, 2008
By mcerner
Format:Hardcover
While a very well written book, The Void spends most of its 156 pages not getting to the point. But then the title is misleading -- this is not about voids or vacuums or the idea of nothingness. Instead, Close writes a summary, fairly historical, of the theories contributing to the current views of the universe. We hear a lot about Newton and Einstein, Lorentz and Michelson, and so on. Special and general relativity are explained again (as they have been in myriad other books). Something as important as the Higgs field is glossed over, while such things as inertial frames of reference or concepts of curved space-time are covered in a tad too much depth or too much repetition. This is really a book for someone who needs a quick overview, rather like it is the introductory chapter to a text with a lot more depth. And from my perspective, it seems to ramble here and there, as if the author doesn't quite want to make a point. Even at the end, the summary shows that the book was not about the void or vacuum but about what fills it and defines its boundaries/properties. Not quite what I was looking for.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Void February 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Frank Close writes in the Oxford style, a little eccentric and quite profound. This is the clearest explanation of the Void, the so-called vacuum of empty space, that I have read. He shows very clearly how physicists came to understand the vacuum of space, which is really a quantum plenum. Well-written and clear (for the most part), this small volume is worth the price and the reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's the opposite of void? March 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover
I can understand how some see the title of this book as misleading, but after reading it, I found it wonderful and swirling with currents of energy and supercharged particle of knowledge. A thoroughly amazing little book with content - and an approach - that mirrors the subject matter: nothingness is but energy misunderstood. Read it and prepare for a trip across unimaginably small distances that will change you forever.
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