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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing Hardcover – January 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145162445X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451624458
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (684 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Theoretical physicist Krauss, author of several books about physics, including The Physics of Star Trek (1995), admits up front that he is not “sympathetic to the conviction that creation requires a creator.” The book isn’t exclusively an argument against divine creation, or intelligent design, but, rather, an exploration of a tantalizing question: How and why can something—the universe in which we live, for example—spring from nothing? It’s an evolutionary story, really, taking us back to the Big Bang and showing how the universe developed over billions of years into its present form. Sure to be controversial, for Krauss does not shy away from the atheistic implications of a scientifically explainable universe, the book is full of big ideas explained in simple, precise terms, making it accessible to all comers, from career physicists to the lay reader whose knowledge of the field begins and ends with a formula few understand, E=mc². --David Pitt

Review

"In A Universe from Nothing, Lawrence Krauss has written a thrilling introduction to the current state of cosmology—the branch of science that tells us about the deep past and deeper future of everything. As it turns out, everything has a lot to do with nothing—and nothing to do with God. This is a brilliant and disarming book."-- Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape

"Astronomers at the beginning of the twentieth century were wondering whether there was anything beyond our Milky Way Galaxy. As Lawrence Krauss lucidly explains, astronomers living two trillion years from now, will perhaps be pondering precisely the same question! Beautifully navigating through deep intellectual waters, Krauss presents the most recent ideas on the nature of our cosmos, and of our place within it. A fascinating read."

-- Mario Livio, author of Is God A Mathematician? and The Golden Ratio

"In this clear and crisply written book, Lawrence Krauss outlines the compelling evidence that our complex cosmos has evolved from a hot, dense state and how this progress has emboldened theorists to develop fascinating speculations about how things really began."
-- Martin Rees, author of Our Final Hour

“A series of brilliant insights and astonishing discoveries have rocked the Universe in recent years, and Lawrence Krauss has been in the thick of it. With his characteristic verve, and using many clever devices, he’s made that remarkable story remarkably accessible. The climax is a bold scientific answer to the great question of existence: Why is there something rather than nothing.”

-- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate and Herman Feshbach professor at MIT, author of The Lightness of Being

"With characteristic wit, eloquence and clarity Lawrence Krauss gives a wonderfully illuminating account of how science deals with one of the biggest questions of all: how the universe's existence could arise from nothing. It is a question that philosophy and theology get themselves into muddle over, but that science can offer real answers to, as Krauss's lucid explanation shows. Here is the triumph of physics over metaphysics, reason and enquiry over obfuscation and myth, made plain for all to see: Krauss gives us a treat as well as an education in fascinating style."
--A. C. Grayling, author of The Good Book

"We have been living through a revolution in cosmology as wondrous as that initiated by Copernicus. Here is the essential, engrossing and brilliant guide."

--Ian McEwan

“Nothing is not nothing. Nothing is something. That's how a cosmos can be spawned from the void -- a profound idea conveyed in A Universe From Nothing that unsettles some yet enlightens others. Meanwhile, it's just another day on the job for physicist Lawrence Krauss.”
-- Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

"Lively and humorous as well as informative… As compelling as it is intriguing.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[An] excellent guide to cutting-edge physics… It is detailed but lucid, thorough but not stodgy… [an] insightful book… Space and time can indeed come from nothing; nothing, as Krauss explains beautifully. …A Universe From Nothing is a great book: readable, informative and topical.” (New Scientist)

"Krauss possesses a rare talent for making the hardest ideas in astrophysics accessible to the layman, due in part to his sly humor… one has to hope that this book won't appeal only to the partisans of the culture wars – it's just too good and interesting for that. Krauss is genuinely in awe of the "wondrously strange" nature of our physical world, and his enthusiasm is infectious.” (San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, AP)

“How physicists came up with the current model of the cosmos is quite a story, and to tell it in his elegant A Universe From Nothing, physicist Lawrence Krauss walks a carefully laid path… It would be easy for this remarkable story to revel in self-congratulation, but Krauss steers it soberly and with grace… His asides on how he views each piece of science and its chances of being right are refreshingly honest…unstable nothingness, as described by Krauss… is also invigorating for the rest of us, because in this nothingness there are many wonderful things to see and understand.” (Nature)

"In A Universe From Nothing, Lawrence Krauss, celebrated physicist, speaker and author, tackles all that plus a whole lot else. In fewer than 200 pages, he delivers a spirited, fast-paced romp through modern cosmology and its strong underpinnings in astronomical observations and particle physics theory.Krauss’s slim volume is bolder in its premise and more ambitious in its scope than most. He makes a persuasive case that the ultimate question of cosmic origin – how something, namely the universe, could arise from nothing – belongs in the realm of science rather than theology or philosophy." (Globe & Mail)

“An eloquent guide to our expanding universe… There have been a number of fine cosmology books published recently but few have gone so far, and none so eloquently, in exploring why it is unnecessary to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper and set the universe in motion.”
(Financial Times)

"His arguments for the birth of the universe out of nothingness from a physical, rather than theological, beginning not only are logical but celebrate the wonder of our natural universe. Recommended." (Library Journal)

“Krauss possesses a rare talent for making the hardest ideas in astrophysics accessible to the layman, due in part to his sly humor… one has to hope that this book won't appeal only to the partisans of the culture wars – it's just too good and interesting for that. Krauss is genuinely in awe of the "wondrously strange" nature of our physical world, and his enthusiasm is infectious.” (Associated Press)

"With its mind-bending mechanics, Krauss argues, our universe may indeed have appeared from nowhere, rather than at the hands of a divine creator. There's some intellectual heavy lifting here—Einstein is the main character, after all—but the concepts are articulated clearly, and the thrill of discovery is contagious. 'We are like the early terrestrial mapmakers,' Krauss writes, puzzling out what was once solely the province of our imaginations." (Mother Jones)

"The author delivers plenty of jolts in this enthusiastic and lucid but demanding overview of the universe, which includes plenty of mysteries—but its origin isn’t among them. A thoughtful, challenging book." (Kirkus)

"People always say you can't get something from nothing. Thankfully, Lawrence Krauss didn't listen. In fact, something big happens to you during this book about cosmic nothing, and before you can help it, your mind will be expanding as rapidly as the early universe." (Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon)

More About the Author

I was born in New York City and shortly afterward moved to Toronto, spending my childhood in Canada. I received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from Carleton University, and my Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.

After a stint in the Harvard Society of Fellows, I became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1985 and Associate Professor in 1988. I moved in 1993 to become Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, professor of astronomy, and Chairman of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University In August 2008 I joined the faculty at Arizona State University as Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Director of the University's Origins Initiative. In 2009 we inaugurated this this initiative with the Origins Symposium [www.origins.asu.edu] in which 80 of the world's leading scientists participated, and 3000 people attended.

I write regularly for national media, including The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, Scientific American (for which I wrote a regular column last year), and other magazines, as well as doing extensive work on radio and television. I am strongly committed to public understanding of science, and have helped lead the national effort to preserve sound science teaching, including the teaching of evolution. I also served on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign science policy committee. In 2008 I became co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and in 2010 was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

I became a scientist in part because I read books by other scientists, such as Albert Einstein, George Gamow, Sir James Jeans, etc, when I was a child, and my popular writing returns the favor. One of my greatest joys is when a young person comes up to me and tells me that one of my books motivated them to become a scientist.

I believe science is not only a vital part of our culture, but is fun, and I try and convey that in my books and lectures. I am honored that Scientific American referred to me as a rare scientific public intellectual, and that all three three major US Physics Societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics, have seen fit to honor me with their highest awards for research and writing.

My research focuses on the beginning and end of the Universe. Among my contributions to the field of cosmology, I helped lead the search for dark matter, and first proposed the existence of dark energy in 1995.

When I have the chance, I love to mountain bike, fly fish, and scuba dive. I spend a tremendous amount of time on planes now, alas, and enjoy flying, but hate airports..

Customer Reviews

Universe From Nothing" perfectly describes Lawrence Krauss's book.
Amazon Customer
That's what made this a great read: even though we know a lot about the universe, there are many things we don't know, and that's something beautiful.
Tim K
The way the book is written is very easy to read and understand even with no background knowledge of the subject.
Eduardo Romero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

457 of 521 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

"A Universe from Nothing" is the fascinating book about how our universe came from nothing. Using the latest in scientific knowledge, his expertise and the innate ability to explain very complex topics in accessible manner earns this book five stars. Lawrence Krauss takes us on an exciting voyage of discovery that helps us understand the universe and further whets our appetite for more knowledge. This 224-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. A Cosmic Mystery Story: Beginnings, 2. A Cosmic Mystery Story: Weighing the Universe, 3. Light from the Beginning of Time, 4. Much Ado About Nothing, 5. The Runaway Universe, 6. The Free Lunch at the End of the Universe, 7. Our Miserable Future, 8. A Grand Accident?, 9. Nothing Is Something, 10. Nothing Is Unstable, and 11. Brave New Worlds.

Positives:
1. This book is truly something! A page turner.
2. A thought-provoking, inspirational quest for knowledge...I loved it!
3. A profound book that is intelligible. An achievement in its own right. Very complex topics accessible to the masses. Thank you.
4. Elegant prose with conviction. Lucid and clarity in a world of dark matter.
5. A journey of cosmological discoveries.
6. Effective use of charts and illustrations.
7. I have a much better understanding of our universe as a result of this book and most importantly it has only whet my appetite for even more knowledge...and that's why I read.
8. A love affair with science and for good reason. The three key principles of scientific ethos.
9. Startling conclusions are presented. The author does a wonderful job of letting us know what we do know versus what we don't know.
10. Some of the greatest discoveries presented.
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125 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Kirk on January 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This shorter volume from Krauss marks his transition from talented science expositor to science champion. His crisp, clear and thorough discussion combines with a strong problem-focussed narrative to make this book a deserving popular science landmark. Some discussion retraces developments in physics that Krauss meticulously covers in previous longer books but this is necessary for a one-stop treatise on one of the most important topics in modern physics. Notes and references are omitted, acceptably in my opinion considering the briefer nature of this book. The development of the topic, the provision of a context through his intimate familiarity with the work of earlier physicists, and Krauss's offhand capacity to reduce complexity and hyperbole to a well rounded paragraph make this book pleasurable, rewarding and complete.

Krauss charts the development of theories regarding the universe's dimensions, mass, energy, inflation and homogeneity, touching on the importance of quantum fluctuations, dark energy and related phenomena. With this background, he explains Perlmutter's challenge, in 1996, to Krauss's statement that empty space might contain energy. With perfect timing, this book arrives just as Perlmutter, Reis and Schmidt gain their Nobel Prizes for confirming the accelerating expansion of the universe and as WMAP experiments hint at dark photons, all grist for the mill in the universe from nothing theory.

The treat at the end of this exposition is Krauss's scenario that humanity now enjoys the best opportunity, in terms of available evidence, to understand the universe's origin, evolution and fate. During this period, albeit billions of years long, we are able to still detect cosmic background radiation and view receding galaxies before they red-shift out of existence.
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241 of 300 people found the following review helpful By Henri C. Ransford on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A slim volume that mostly covers well-trodden ground.

On the plus side, the author's compelling demonstration that, if they are around then, cosmologists of the far future applying impeccable science will inescapably draw all the wrong conclusions about the birth and genesis of the Universe, is fascinating.
Because by then they'll be unable to observe a number of things, such as any erstwhile neighbouring galaxies which will have firmly drifted out of sight, or to perceive, let alone measure, things like the residual cosmic radiation background, or dark energy. Even if some of these cosmologists somehow stumbled upon the right, seemingly far-out ideas, applying Occam's razor rules would firmly relegate the correct scenario to the kook fringe.

A very sobering thought.

On the minus side, the author insists throughout, without providing a shred of evidence or even without really envisioning alternatives, that dark matter comes from hitherto undiscovered particles - there are however many other, exotic possible scenarios for how dark matter arises (such as, amongst other possibilities, the nearby presence of other universes from our own, within a larger multiverse) but all these other possible sources are given short shrift. Positing an a priori scenario somehow does not look like very good science.....

As a review of how matter can arise from nothingness, this book is far too slim to be comprehensive - there is, for instance, only scant treatment of the 'quantum fluctuation' scenario first championed by Trion, or of the 'colliding membranes' scenario, or for that matter of Roger Penrose's interesting recent ideas, which remain largely ignored.

In brief, an interesting book which leaves an aftertaste of somehow having an ulterior agenda, perhaps a pamphlet against mindless religiosity rather than a bona fide, purely science book.
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