2013 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Existence of Nothing


The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike.

Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013.


J. Richard Gott, professor of astrophysical sciences, Princeton University, and author of Sizing Up the Universe: The Cosmos in Perspective

Jim Holt, science journalist and author of Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story

Lawrence Krauss, professor of physics, Arizona State University and author of A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing

Charles Seife, professor of journalism, New York University, and author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Eve Silverstein, professor of physics, Stanford University, and co-editor of Strings, Branes and Gravity

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate — generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.
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  1. Downloading now. Been awaiting this for some time. Krauss and Tyson are my favourites going in, hoping to have more faves going out.

  2. Is this the talk that drew a teapot-tempest of a controversy for ditching philosophers from the panel, in favor of keeping it science-focused?

  3. In reply to #2 by McCourt:

    Is this the talk that drew a teapot-tempest of a controversy for ditching philosophers from the panel, in favor of keeping it science-focused?

    That’s the one. Not sure a guy who wrote a famous book on interpreting quantum mechanics counts as a philosopher. But even if he was cancelling someones invite to talk at a conference after you have given it is just bad manners.

    That said it looks like a great line up.


  4. Thank you.
    This was very interesting.
    Especially Eve Silverstein and the wonderful Lawrence Krauss.
    What a shame the moderator wasn’t better at letting those two speak……

  5. Good thing- philosophical rambling contributes nothing much to science. Or, as my favourite philosopher said

    “Science is what we know, and philosophy is what we don’t know”

  6. J Richard Gott… “it has a colour- it’s black” Mein Gott! Not what I was taught…

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