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.

Click link below to listen the debate;



  1. The discussion of the Panelists proved nothing. Even the definition of “nothing” by Richard Gott, moving his hands behind his head and saying there is nothing rather reveals that “nothing can only be proved by something;” you need hands to find that there is nothing behind.

    Charles Seife misquoted that “zero” was invented by the Babylonians. It was al-Khwarizmi–the inventor of Algebra and Elements of the Algorithm–who found out that the brilliant Brahmagupta of India was the first to find out “zero,” who tried to represent its emptiness and mystery in a written equation: Zero divided by zero equals zero. As long as such debates that fail to prove that the universe was created “ex nihilo” religious conviction that when there was nothing “God was there” or for an atheist something was there. The “zero” Al-Khwarizmi realized must be accepted on pure faith. It cannot be proven, believing that the ultimate value of the rationalist mathematics is pure revelation, just as God was revealed, not quantified. It is an endless debate which has a long history and Muslim scientists, thinkers, and philosophers have debated it without any conclusion.


  2. In this video, the most advanced, complex and abstract concepts are discussed.
    All participants are the professors of Theoretical physics, Astrophysics, journalism in the most prestigious universities of USA. The moderator was a professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University NJ. The concepts being discussed are Nothing, Zero and Creation/Existence of Universe.
    All panelists are renowned and award winging writers of the subjects/concepts being discussed here.

    The moderator did a wonderful job by explaining the concepts being discussed for the lay person. How the Calculus was discovered by Newton (Scientist/Mathematician) and Leibniz (Philosopher/Mathematician) contemporaneously. It refers to Zeitgeist as well.
    There are lot of other examples which will come across when the video is watched.
    Most Muslims think that concept of zero was discovered by Muslims. Some people say it was discovered in India. Actually it came from Babylon.
    Charles Seife writes in his marvelous and interesting book ZERO ” The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshipped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics”.

    Hindu mind and modern mind after renaissance really understood the importance of ZERO. It is the most powerful, complex and disturbing concept which human mind can wrestle with.

    TF USA affiliates should watch this video, ask your loved ones to watch this video. Then we should write comments on these concepts.

    Zero, Nothingness, Universe was created out of nothing or our out of something,
    “Was universe ever created or it exists eternally?” are the most important questions for human mind to dwell on.
    Serious logical contradictions arise if one believes that the Universe which contains abundance of EVIL in it, was created by an omniscient and benevolent entity.

    There are lot of complex concepts which can be discussed after watching this video.
    Please participate in this discussion.
    I will comment on Mirza Iqbal Ashraf’s comment later on.

    Noor Salik

  3. The salient feature to my mind is that nothing gave rise to something. The ever expanding universe including the inifinitismal planet we inhabit.

  4. The word ‘Nothing” can not be used in absolute terms. In the time-space continuum, space , defined as separation between two sensible objects’ exists, with the possibility of some thing(s) that we do not detect. The real nature of either the space or time escapes a strict definition, I agree, despite Einstein and what followed him.
    In the common parlance, ‘nothing’ stands for ‘ what concerns us now is not detectable’

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