Theoretical physics, as practiced in the mainstream media, seems to be moving from a mania about multiverses to a religious battle over nothingness. On one side we have physicist Lawrence Krauss, with his best-selling new entry into the atheism book sweepstakes: A Universe from Nothing. Krauss is backed by Richard Dawkins, who compares the book’s devastating effect on religion to that of Darwin’s.
On the other side we have philosopher David Albert, backed by a million dollars from the Templeton Foundation (see more here), who has a review out this morning in the New York Times characterizing Krauss as “pale, small, silly, nerdy” (his ideas, not him, I think).
The big debate here is over what one means by “nothingness”, which seems to me characterizable as nothing of interest. I guess though that there is a lot of money to be made in the nothingness business. The next opportunity for a big payday from nothingness will be on Thursday, 11 AM GMT, when Templeton will announce who gets this year’s $1.7 million dollar prize. I’ve no idea who will get it, just that it won’t be Krauss.