Posts Tagged ‘Nothing’

Too Much of Nothing

November 14, 2013
A Christmas Gift Suggestion from New Scientist

A Christmas Gift Suggestion from New Scientist

As I surmised, the envelope containing nothing was indeed a publicity mailing for the book ‘Nothing’, available at tax-paying bookshops for just £5.59 including UK delivery.

As a contributing author I received a copy a few weeks ago and quickly read through to rate ‘my Chapter’ – about Absolute Zero – against the others. I was relieved to find that it didn’t obviously stand out as worse than the others.

And can I recommend it for a Christmas gift as New Scientist suggest? Well of course I can! It is an entertaining and stimulating read for almost anyone – particularly if they have a yen for science.

Is this too much of nothing? Can the topic sustain an entire book. I think it can, or as Bob Dylan so inscrutably put it:

Now, it’s all been done before
It’s all been written in the book
But when there’s too much of nothing

Nobody should look
(Lyrics from Bob Dylan.com)

You might think that I am biased because of the amount of money that I will earn when people buy the book. Let me reassure you on this issue.

I was paid £1800 as a contributors fee which I thought was pretty generous. However I felt the money came my way because of my role at NPL, and so even though I wrote this in my own time, I passed the money on directly to NPL.

And as for royalties, well, the title of the book says it all :-).

Nothing was delivered

October 2, 2013
An envelope was delivered to my place of work containing nothing.

An envelope was delivered to my place of work containing nothing.

The other day I received a mysterious black envelope. On opening it I found it contained nothing. Literally.

This is what the envelope contained.

This is what the envelope contained.

So I immediately assumed I had dropped the contents and began searching. But after a few moments, I made a connection with an article about Absolute Zero that I had written for New Scientist editor Jeremy Webb earlier in the year. Jeremy told me that it was for a yet-to-be-published book they had tentatively entitled  The New Scientist Book of Nothing. Since then I had heard nothing about the likely publication date, and I guess I still haven’t.

If this is publicity for the book (and I really know nothing about whether it is or isn’t) I feel sure it will be very popular. As the words in this article make clear, the concept of ‘nothing’ is fascinating but difficult to discuss. Even naming ‘nothing’ implies an existence when what we want to talk about is ‘absence’.

A page has recently appeared on the New Scientist website on the topic of ‘nothing’ and so it is plausible that this could be the first wave of publicity for the book. More intriguingly, it could be something more mysterious – I don’t know which would be more exciting!


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