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© 2014

The Weight of the Vacuum

A Scientific History of Dark Energy

Book

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Physics book series (SpringerBriefs in Physics)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 1-6
  3. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 7-12
  4. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 13-18
  5. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 19-27
  6. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 29-38
  7. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 39-46
  8. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 47-56
  9. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 57-65
  10. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 67-76
  11. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 77-87
  12. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 89-99
  13. Helge S. Kragh, James M. Overduin
    Pages 101-110
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 111-113

About this book

Introduction

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of cosmic acceleration due to dark energy, a discovery that is all the more perplexing as nobody knows what dark energy actually is. We put the modern concept of cosmological vacuum energy into historical context and show how it grew out of disparate roots in quantum mechanics (zero-point energy) and relativity theory (the cosmological constant, Einstein's “greatest blunder”). These two influences have remained strangely aloof and still co-exist in an uneasy alliance that is at the heart of the greatest crisis in theoretical physics, the cosmological-constant problem.

Keywords

Cosmological Constant Cosmological Vacuum Energy Cosmological-constant Problem Dark Energy Ether in Physics History of Cosmology Inflation in the Early Universe Vacuum Energy Variable Physical Constants Zero-point Energy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Science StudiesAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Astronomy and GeosciencesTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

About the authors

Prof. James Overduin, Baltimore, MD, USA

Prof. Helge Kragh, Aarhus University, Denmark

Bibliographic information

Reviews

“This is an interesting historical overview of the development of ideas relating to vacuum energy. It is a well-written, easy read, and should appeal to anyone with an interest in dark energy, which should be all of us, since this is often claimed as the biggest mystery in modern physics. Kragh and Overduin have split the story into 12 chapters, tracing relevant ideas from the ancient Greek philosophers up to the present day.” (Douglas Scott, Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol. 47 (4), November, 2016)

“This is an exceptionally good, short guide to the history of physicists’ understanding of the energy of empty space. … This is an excellent brief history of cosmology. I expect to cite it many times in my academic papers and books.” (Simon Mitton, The Observatory, Vol. 135 (1245), April, 2015)