BookshelfJacob deGroot-Maggetti

La plénitude du vide – Trinh Xuan Thuan

Thoughts: Discovered among the stacks of the Marc Favreau branch of the Montreal Library, I read La plénitude du vide as part of an ongoing effort to expose myself to more French. The book traces humanity’s evolving understanding of emptiness or nothingness, from the invention of the number zero, to Aristotle’s notion that nature abhors a vacuum, to the idea of aether, through which light was thought to travel in the void of space, all the way up to modern understandings of vacuum energy and quantum foam, before circling back to a discussion of ideas of void and emptiness in several Eastern religions. Though the subject matter may play a significant role in my preference (I’m currently reading another book of his in which entropy, complexity and emergence figure prominently), among the francophone authors whose works I’ve read so far, I enjoy Trinh Xuan Thuan’s writing the most.

(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)

Trinh Xuan Thuan. 2016. La plénitude du vide. Albin Michel.

I. Le vide mathématique

II. L’horreur du vide

III. Du vide et de l’éther

IV. Le vide quantique

V. L’univers naît du vide

Posted: Dec 21, 2021. Last updated: Nov 12, 2022.