‘Void’ dives into physics of nothingness | Science News

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‘Void’ dives into physics of nothingness

New book chronicles scientists’ evolving views on empty space

By
7:00am, November 13, 2016
subatomic particle computer simulation

NOT NOTHING  Even in empty space, subatomic particles are plentiful. In a vacuum, particles called quarks and gluons still appear, thanks to ever-present quantum fields, shown above in a computer simulation. A new book explains such counterintuitive properties of the void.

Void
James Owen Weatherall
Yale Univ., $26

In empty space, quantum particles flit in and out of existence, electromagnetic fields permeate the vacuum, and space itself trembles with gravitational waves. What may seem like nothingness paradoxically teems with activity.

In Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing, physicist and philosopher James Owen Weatherall explores how physicists’ beliefs about nothingness have changed over several revolutionary periods. The void, Weatherall argues, is physics distilled to its bare essence. If physicists can’t agree on the properties of empty space, they won’t be able to explain the physics of planets or particles either.

Scientists have argued over

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