Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, ITALY

                The abhorrence of the void                 
Reducing the abhorrence of the void Much ado about nothing The unbearable lightness of air

Boyle's air-pump in action.
Robert Boyle, New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects, Oxford 1660



The 1644 Torricellian experiment would produce epoch-making results, and the discovery of the vacuum created a deep trauma, on scientific, philosophical and cosmological levels. The greatest philosophers, scientists and theologians, right across Europe, devoted themselves to an intense period of reflection and experimentation to confirm or question the existence of the void and atmospheric pressure.

To paraphrase the title of one of Shakespeare's famous comedies, (Much ado about nothing) one might say that never, before the discovery of the void (traditionally considered as the equivalent to nothing), had there been so "much ado about nothing".





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