Questions from The Book of Nothing

Notes from “The Book of Nothing Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe” by John D. Barrow, Copyright 2000, published by Pantheon Books, New York

pg 124: “Anyone who believed that the Universe contained an infinite distribution of stars was faced with explaining the darkness of the night sky.”  (Olber’s Paradox)

pg 135: Does light travel faster when it goes in the same direction as earth?  Michelson’s experiment in 1881 showed no phase difference in a beam of light split into two beams perpendicular to one another and having travelled equal distances before being recombined for interference analysis.  Did Michelson establish equal distance of the two beams travel between mirrors by first establishing no phase difference and then rotate the apparatus and observe no change?

pg 172: Are the effects of gravity not instantaneous but propagated by waves travelling at the speed of light?  How have Einstein’s views of the Universe influenced modern physics?  Does space have curvature that both changes and is changed by a given distribution of mass and energy over time?

pg 194: Is the Universe really expanding?  Was its past really hotter and denser than its present?

pg 206: What is the Casimir Effect?  Why do only those vacuum energy waves exist between two parallel plates which form a whole number of wavelengths?  Does this have to do with standing waves?  How much pressure is generated on the outside surface of these two parallel plates as a result of more wavelengths of vacuum energy available on the outside surfaces as opposed to the inside?

pg 225: Why do the universal forces have different strengths?  How do the strengths of these forces change between subatomic particles as their energies, i.e. temperatures, increase?  Is there a temperature at which these forces all have the same strength?  Is this observable or only predicted asymptotically by the weakening of the strong force between quarks as energies increase? How are the strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces different at lower energies?

pg 227: How can a black hole affect the interaction of normally short-lived virtual particle pairs?  If only one of a pair is captured by a black hole would that lead to real blackhole radiation?  Does this observation by Stephen Hawking mean that black holes aren’t completely one-way after all, but can slowly decay to nothing through such radiation leakage?


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