[Re-posted from yesterday with many questions added by readers]
Jim Holt has a new book out, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. From a review by Kathryn Schulz:
Mind, matter, abstract ideas: Where does all this stuff come from? Why is the universe characterized by such abundance and complexity? Why does it exist at all? How did it come into being? Could there have been something else instead? Could there have been nothing else—that is, nothingness—instead? Is the human mind capable of resolving these matters? Can anyone do justice to all this in a 279-page book? I can answer only the last of these questions. Yes, someone can: Jim Holt, in Why Does the World Exist? That title echoes a question famously posed by G. W. Leibniz, a brilliant philosopher, groundbreaking mathematician, and incurable optimist. The bit of optimism he’s best known for (largely because Voltaire made so much fun of it in Candide) is the claim that we live in the "best of all possible worlds."
To submit a question for Jim, simply enter it into the field at the top of the Urtak poll (ignore the "YES or NO question" aspect and simply enter any open-ended question). We primed the poll with questions you can vote on right away – click "Yes" if you are interested in seeing Jim answer the question or "No" if you don't particularly care. We will air his responses soon. Thanks to everyone who participates, it really helps.