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Science AMA Series: I’m James Owen Weatherall, physicist and philosopher at the University of California, Irvine. I wrote a book about how the concept of nothingness—the absence of stuff—has been central to centuries of physics theories. AMA!
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Corresponding Author:physicstoday@thewinnower.com

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Abstract

I’m James Owen Weatherall, a professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine, where I’m also a member of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science. I’m interested in the mathematical and conceptual foundations of physics, model-building in finance, and epistemology more broadly. In my new book Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing, I talk about the historical and conceptual issues related to the physics of “nothing,” from controversies about empty space in the 17th century to the strange features of the vacuum state in quantum field theory today. You can read more about it in this interview with Physics Today. I’m also the author of The Physics of Wall Street, which looked at how modeling ideas moved from physics into finance during the 20th century. And right now I’m writing a book on why false beliefs persist and spread, even when everyone cares about believing true things about the world. I’m looking forward to talking about the philosophy of physics, finance and mathematics, and of course, nothing. I’ll be back at 4pm EDT to answer your questions! EDIT: That’s a wrap. Thanks for the great questions!