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The Void [Kindle Edition]

Frank Close
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 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

Product Description


It covers very complicated concepts in a mostly accessible way. (Lawrence Rudnick, Nature)

A fascinating subject covered by a fascinating book. (Marcus Chown, Focus)

Marcus Chown, Focus, October, 2007

'A fascinating subject covered by a fascinating book.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3908 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK (25 Oct. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005YMCBR4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #363,075 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This Void is about average 13 April 2008
The book starts well with the physics explained at a fairly basic and historical level. Subsequent chapters advance this view with explanations of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics along the way. The final two chapters however are the meat of the book and feel hurried with topics suddenly appearing that lack adequate explanation or background information. Did the book succeed ? In my view, not quite. It is a relatively short book, interesting but lacking a lot of explanation of the more complex later science that could have made it really good. Shame!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly limited take on emptiness 2 Nov. 2008
A book on emptiness that starts and ends with quotes of the Rig Veda, the oldest of the sacred hindu books, raises expectations. Unfortunately, not all of these are met.

Frank Close does a very fine job of visualising the void for his readers, for instance by explaining how the dot of ink at the end of a sentence should be blown op to 100 metres to make visible the individual atoms with the naked eye, but to 10.000 kilometres to see the atom's nucleous. There is so much emptiness even within the atom.

The best chapter is the one about ether, the substance the old Greeks dreamed up to avoid the void, which appeared to be very difficult to get rid of in scientific theory, even if there was no supporting evidence for its existence. No complaints, then, about mr. Close's ability to deal with complex physics, although especially some paragraphs on particle physics are pretty tough.

The disappointment lies in the summary hints to philosophical views on the void. This is not a bad book, but it could have been a lot better had mr. Close taken a broader view on his subject, as he appears to set out to in his own introduction and the back cover praise.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Professor Frank Close has managed to engage the non-physicist reader in a topic normally reserved for the intellectual elite. He offers a detailed yet broad analysis of The Void, of nothingness, a topic you would be forgiven for thinking is 'a done deal'.

But far from it, vacuums and the concept of nothingness have been on the minds of many great thinkers throughout time, from the early Greeks to the modern-day super brains at international research centres such as CERN in Switzerland. In a bid to understand our own existence, we may contemplate our opposite: non-existence. The book is not ignorant of the large philosophical questions either.

As the concept of vacuums evolved throughout history Close is there explaining in a real, down-to-earth voice what exactly is going on. The book is illustrated with diagrams throughout, and if like me, you have trouble visualising some of the more difficult concepts, these come in very handy. Having said that, I imagine even an A-Star physics student stands to benefit from this book.

The book is split into nine chapters, with each chapter being further divided logically according to topic. The book enters into the science of atoms, light, the quantum, waves and particles amidst other areas to explain the nature of a vacuum. The Big Bang, Aether, higher dimensions and time are also discussed. Warning: there are very large and small numbers featured in this book, and some concepts will challenge your understanding of your three-dimensional reality.

If you have ever wondered about what is left when you take all the stars, planets and us out of the universe, or that split second after the big bang, then this book hits the money. I recommend this book on the grounds that it covers an interesting topic, whilst introducing other facets of physics, is readable even to the untrained brain and makes you think twice and go 'aha'.

In short: there's Nothing I don't like about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Void: By Frank Close 3 Nov. 2011
The author - Frank Close OBE - appears perfectedly qualified to write a book that is essentially an easily accessible short history of the Western tradition of scientific thought, from ancient Greece to Quantum Theory - as at the time of publishing, he is described as a Professor of Physics at Oxford University, and a Fellow of Exeter College. He has also served as the vice president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as receiving the Institute of Physics' Kelvin Medal in 1996. He has published a number of other books regarding various issues concerning the subject of physics.

The hardback (2007) edition contains 166 numbered pages and consists of 9 distinct chapters:

1) Much Ado About Nothing.
2) How Empty is an Atom.
3) Space.
4) Waves in What?
5) Travelling on a Light Beam.
6) The Cost of Free Space.
7) The Infinite Sea.
8) The Higgs Vacuum.
9) The New Void.

Interestingly, the bulk of this book is about the historical process of trying to scientifically prove the existence of the substance known as 'ether', a Greek term meaning a 'mediun subtlier than air'. The ancient Greeks (starting with Thales), speculated that there could be no true vacuum in nature, and that consequently, it was philosophically unlikely that the physical universe emerged out of a vacuum or void. Where there appeared to be a vacuum, the Greeks believed the mysterious substance of 'ether' resided. Indeed, so powerful was this idea, that Sir Isaac Newton assumed ether to be real, and suggested it formed a universal, unmoving constant.
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