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.
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.
11. I finally have a reasonable grasp of the Big Bang, Bazinga! The three main observational pillars.
12. Of course you will get to hear about the greats of science but I really appreciate the stories of the lesser known scientists who provided vital knowledge, such as, the story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt and Vera Rubin. Bravo!
13. Great facts spruced throughout the book and some jaw-dropping insight. One scientist was able to defend his mother in a witchcraft trial...find out whom.
14. What general relativity tells us.
15. The uses for gravitational lensing. Let's get Zwicky with it.
16. Dark matter and dark energy...enlighten me. Or at least try.
17. Quantum mechanics, I will never understand it but I can appreciate it what it provides.
18. The author does a good job of telling us what scientific progress has been made and how that applies to cosmology.
19. A flat universe?? Find out.
20. An explanation of nothing that means something to me. Can you say quantum fluctuations?
21. A "creator" in proper perspective. The requirement of some externality. Read it and you will understand.
22. Multiverses...oh my.
23. String theory a critical view.
24. A little bit of philosophy for good measure.
25. The best explanation for how something can come out of nothing to best current knowledge available.
26. Key concepts will now become part of your understanding..."the existence of energy in empty space".
27. Black holes under the light and some very interesting takes.
28. Spoiler alert...one of the most profound questions, "What I want to know is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe." Thank you, Mr. Einstein.
29. An interesting look at Aristotle and the First Cause in the light of new knowledge.
30. The book ends with a bang of reality.
1. No links or bibliography.
2. A lot of the concepts of this book are hard to grasp. Some readers may not have the patience and inclination to take the time to properly digest what is being offered. That being said, the author does wonders in making such difficult concepts accessible.
In summary, this is a fantastic book, a real treat. I learned so much and admire the author for providing a book that is accessible and enjoyable to the masses. This book lived up to my expectations. Fascinating topics in the hands of a master results in a captivating book. This is how science books should be written. I can't recommend this book enough!
Further suggestions: "The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does)" and "Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?)" by Brian Cox, "Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science (Great Discoveries)" also by Lawrence Krauss, "Nothing: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)" by Frank Close, "Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World" by Lisa Randall, and "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking.
on December 7, 2013
The explanation of Big Bang cosmology and general relativity was excellent. I learned a lot about both from reading the first parts of the book. Pages one through 21 are definitely a good way of starting off the book, with a complete explanation of the evidence for the Big Bang and simple diagrams to answer "Where is the center of the universe ?". Indeed, even the critics of his thesis seem to agree that he did a good job of explaining science.
I also enjoyed a lot of the humor in the book, like the jokes about the geometry skills of American high school students and the stereotype of the graduate student as a slave who does work the professors don't want to. The afterword from Richard Dawkins was beautiful as well.
As somebody interested in the philosophy of physics, particularly the origins of the universe, I was excited to read this book. I wanted to see the argument that was presented by Krauss in favor of the idea that the universe came from nothing, especially after reading Quentin Smith's argument for the same idea in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. Unfortunately, I found the title of the book to erroneous. The nothing that Lawrence Krauss describes in this book is not nothing. He is not describing the beginning of the universe from nothing, but the beginning of the universe from a quantum vacuum, which is described by physical laws and takes place in space-time. I don't think the content of the book lives up to the title. There is a debate in physics about whether virtual particles have real, ontological status, or if they are just results of equations and have no further implications on reality. I wish he had given more attention to this issue, because he didn't establish anything futher than the fact that the equations imply their existence. These two flaws were central to the purpose of the book.
Overall, I would recommend purchasing it. It has great explanations of physics, and you wil learn something by time you put the book down. However, even as an atheist, I feel that Dr. Krauss failed to establish his thesis, ending with a 3/5.
on January 22, 2012
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. We live at a good time and I am pleased that Hitch got to savour this scenario. Characteristically, Krauss then takes a sweep through and at the anthropic cosmological principal and string theory to frame the scientific method as a sometimes fuzzy, sometimes chicken and egg, but always logical way to investigate our existence. He logically extends this thinking in the `Brave New Worlds' chapter to collate some existing ideas and advance an analysis which is powerful and positive for science. His Epilogue comment from Camus, that "Sisyphus is smiling", appeals. Dawkins's quote from Carlyle in the afterword caps off the good humour with which Krauss has explored this topic.
Clearly Krauss has some fun with this book - the reader is left in no doubt of this plan after the first line in Chapter 1. The burst of early snipes at lazy thinkers and obfuscators risked the book taking a combative edge but readers can rest assured these remarks remained measured, valid and totally justified given the damage some obscurantists wilfully cause to scientific progress, increasingly to the future peril of humanity and the planet. Krauss introduces an allegory about his wallet card which diagrammatically explains how the abundance of different elements in the universe verifies the Big Bang Theory. He notes that the card has little value because the usual kind of challenger of his proposition has usually made up his or her mind. Herein lays the challenge and, no doubt, fate of this book.
on February 12, 2012
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.
on May 10, 2012
After seeing the video lecture on Youtube over a year ago, I was excited to find out that Professor Krauss would be releasing a book that, to my assumption, would elaborate on what was discussed in the lecture. It does this, but the majority of the book explains cosmology and quantum physics that is already widely written about by other scientists. It talks about the age, shape, size, and expansion of the universe, relativity, and other things even a casual science reader such as myself have already read and watched documentaries about. There are about three chapters in this book, starting with chapter 4, that have anything to do with the "universe from nothing," and most of those discuss other topics more than the subject I was reading the book for. While there is some setup required to understand the "universe from nothing" parts, what is in the book should be obvious to a person who has read cosmology stuff before. A lot of the book is bragging of the author's achievements, and Richard Dawkins's afterword talks about the book as if it is some classic (along with the usual smug religion-bashing), which it is not. I recommend this book to a person who hasn't already read books and/or watched documentaries about the universe and I do not recommend it to someone who is already familiar with the common topics.
on July 4, 2012
This book was unexpectedly disappointing. As a non-scientist who reads extensively about cosmology, particle physics, and quantum mechanics, I wasn't surprised that the author spent the first 142 pages of his book rehashing what we know so far about the formation and evolution of our universe and its component structures. Some of the information is quite recent, and I expected the foundational knowledge to be important to understanding the argument and evidence that would presumably follow.
Unfortunately, I was fairly well stunned (and disappointed) that he then blithely extrapolated one known phenomenon into a wildly different context with barely an acknowledgement of how different it is, and then declared victory in a ridiculous and unnecessary argument with theists.
It is true that we know from recent experiments that what we long thought of as "empty space" beyond the edges of our solar system is not "nothing." Even places in deep outer space that are truly empty of any dust or molecules are still physical structures that are capable of holding matter - similar to how an empty shoe box is still a physical box.
We all know that shoe boxes are made from cardboard, and we now know that space itself is made of a seething sub-microscopic "quantum foam" that contains vast amounts of energy and strangeness. (See [...])
Quantum mechanics also tells us that inside this quantum foam, at the tiniest microscopic level, all sorts of particles and anti-particles are constantly winking into and out of existence. The author describes on page 154 that under the right circumstances, two charged plates can be brought close enough together such that a "real particle-antiparticle pair can "pop" out of the vacuum, with the negative charge heading toward the positive plate and the positive charge toward the negative one."
As crazy as this sounds, we know from Einstein's famous equation that energy and mass are essentially interchangeable. They are different manifestations of the same thing, and under the right circumstances (such as nuclear fusion), we can convert matter into huge amounts of pure energy such as nuclear weapons.
These same principles suggest it is entirely reasonable for energy to turn into particles (mass), and the author presents a compelling case of how the math works out fine when an equal balance of particles and antiparticles pop into existence, because they represent zero net energy. (Imagine having two bank accounts with zero balances and then electronically transferring one dollar from one account to the other. Suddenly one account has one dollar and the other account has a negative balance of one dollar.)
Unfortunately, this is where the author makes a leap of faith that I simply can't follow. He concludes that because it is probable (or even certain) that miniscule quantum particles and antiparticles pop in and out of existence inside our spacetime, it must follow that it is possible or probable that the same thing happens outside of spacetime - in a manner that allows for the creation of a quantity of spacetime that is so huge as to be literally mind-boggling.
(Our Milky Way galaxy contains approximately 300 billion stars, and is so vast that it would take a rocket ship (traveling 500 miles per hour) more than 147 billion years just to cross the Milky Way. And our galaxy is one of more than one hundred billion galaxies in the universe.)
After making the case that it is possible for universes to pop into existence so long as they have zero total energy, the author completely fails to explain why our universe seems to have far more matter than antimatter. I was expecting him to say there must be vast amounts of antimatter beyond our view , but he instead provided a head-scratching explanation of how the imbalance could have come to be - without addressing the fact that such an imbalance flies in the face of everything he postulated about the primacy of zero energy systems.
Near the end of the book the author unintentionally shows how weak his arguments are when he comes right out and claims that it is a "fact" that "in quantum gravity, universes can and indeed always will spontaneously appear from nothing." It may be true that this is so in some version of the speculative (and unquestionably incomplete) theory of quantum gravity. But it certainly is not a fact and the author's presentation of it as one is emblematic of the sloppy reasoning found throughout his book.
Finally, a grudging word about the book's discussion of religion. I am embarrassed for everyone that a book dedicated to exploring cosmology and scientific principles spends so much time pointing out how the overwhelming huge mountain of scientific facts (based on easily repeatable experiments) conflicts with the mix of inconsistent ancient myths that comprise monotheistic religions.
From my perspective, "religion versus science" isn't a conversation worth having because religion brings nothing testable to the table. Religion isn't even the equivalent of a spoon at a knife fight. It is more like claiming a cupcake is a great life preserver while living in the desert, far from water.
I would have greatly preferred that the author split this book into three books. One being his robust and excellent discussion of modern cosmology, the second being a more logical explanation of his theory of nothingness, and the third being a scientific evisceration of the myths of theistic religions. Having read the book the author wrote, however, it is clear to me now that he (and/or his publishing company) intended to pick a fight with religion in order to generate buzz, controversy, and sell more books.
He should have spent more time explaining and defending his central theory, and laying out the case for the next generation of scientific experiments that we should perform in order to prove or disprove his theory.
on January 15, 2012
Having read "Fear of Physics" - I was very much looking forward to this publication.
Mathematics (not being my strong suite) has challenged me in reading similar works by other authors. However - Krauss is a master at explaining concept so those 'not-so-mathematically-inclined' individuals such as myself can easily follow along (my struggle with complex mathematics hasn't hindered my interest in understanding the concepts provoking it's need).
Krauss readily states (more than once) that research is only as good as the data (sample size etc. as well as the tools available to achieve them). Based on what has been discovered to date - he's painted a conceptual picture of the beginning of the universe / our relative state within it / as well as what's in store for us in the future - while still admitting there are many questions that have yet to be answered.
Having seen some of his presentations online and subsequently experiencing his quick-wit (or dry to some I suppose - yet - with none-the-less) I very much look forward to the same within his writing. I wasn't disappointed. Perhaps a bit more subtle than his video presentations online but - I suppose it's important to remember that he's not writing a fictional comedy.
I very much appreciated this book... I found it incredibly thought provoking - more so than any other similar I've read in the past. If anything - it urges to the surface what's really important... That is - our time is limited.... and - all the garbage/politics and religious provoked stupidity that occur daily here on our planet is such a waste.
Many thanks to Mr. Krauss for this book. I look forward to future publications and - highly recommend others pick this up for a read.
on January 23, 2012
*A full summary of this book is available here: An Executive Summary of Lawrence Krauss's 'A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing'
The main argument: Our best science tells us that the universe is an ever expanding entity consisting of some 400 billion galaxies that began with a very powerful and very hot explosion from a single point precisely 13.72 billion years ago. The degree to which our best science here has advanced in the recent past is reflected by the understanding of the universe that we had just a century ago. At that time, it was thought that the universe was static and consisted of just one galaxy: our own. In the past 100 years, though, Einstein's theory of relativity revolutionized how we understand space and time and the physical processes operating at the very largest of scales, while quantum mechanics has revolutionized how we understand these processes at the very smallest of scales. It is the development of these theories in particular that has provided us with our current understanding of the universe.
However, the picture of the universe that these theories have furnished us with still leaves us with an apparent problem: What existed before the big bang? Surely something must have existed beforehand, for if nothing existed then something (indeed everything!) came from nothing, which seems absurd. Indeed there are few things more intuitively implausible than that something can come from nothing. In the philosophical community ex nihilo, nihilo fit (from nothing, nothing comes) is appreciated to be a self evident premise, and one of only a handful of postulates that are completely indisputable.
The apparent contradiction between the universe beginning at a finite time, and the premise that something cannot come from nothing, has often been used as an argument for the existence of an uncaused cause, or creator (most often understood as God). However, in his new book `A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing' renowned physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss argues that a full understanding of the science that has yielded our current picture of the universe also allows us to see that something can indeed come from nothing. Thus, for Krauss, science can in fact do the work that it is often thought only God could manage. As Krauss puts it (borrowing a line from the physicist Steven Weinberg), science does not make it impossible to believe in God, but it does make it possible to not believe in God (p. 183).
In introducing us to the science that allows for the possibility of something coming from nothing, Krauss takes us through the history and evolution of physics and cosmology over the past century, beginning with Albert Einstein's theory of relativity in 1916. In the course of this journey we learn about what our best science says about the basic make-up of the universe (including the existence of dark matter and dark energy), as well as what our best science tells us about how the universe (likely) began and where it is (likely) heading in the future. A full summary of the book is available here: An Executive Summary of Lawrence Krauss's 'A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing'
"Not only does physics tell us how something could have come from nothing, it goes further, by Krauss's account, and shows us that nothingness is unstable: something was almost bound to spring into existence from it. If I understand Krauss aright, it happens all the time:... Particles and antiparticles wink in and out of existence..." --Richard Dawkins
A couple of years ago, Krauss discussed the current status of the universe, and how it could have come from nothing. The lecture's video quickly became a YouTube sensation, of nearly a million viewers, and out of that success emerged the idea for his new book, "A Universe from Nothing: Why there is Something rather than Nothing," in which Lawrence Krauss recounts the recent developments in our conceptions of cosmology, with the help of modern physics, addressing the question of "Why there is something rather than nothing," and why this is in fact a scientific question rather than a philosophical or theological one.
"Science has changed the way we think about ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and the astounding progress of the last forty years has led us to the threshold of addressing key foundational questions about our existence and our future that were previously thought to be beyond our reach," says Krauss, ". . . , the public deserves to share in the excitement of our scientific quest to understand the biggest mysteries of our existence. As Steven Weinberg has stressed, science doesn't make it impossible to believe in God. It however makes it possible to consider a universe without one."
In an entirely statistical world of quantum physics, whatever change in quantum numbers, only permitted by the selection rules (that limit the transition probability from one eigenstate to another), define how the probability of transitioning from one level to another can happen. Experiments reveal that virtual particles are popping in and out of existence, allover the pseudo-conscious universe. Einstein's relativity provides that empty space can curve, and quantum physics permits matter to appear out of nowhere, given it also vanishes in no time. The reader has just to understand something about vacuum in space, as it is viewed in quantum field theory.
Since modern physics assumes that a vacuum is full of fluctuating electromagnetic waves, which can never be completely eliminated, they have been occurring before the dawn of time. All were thought to have quickly disappeared, but perhaps under the right conditions, if one lived long enough to give rise to the original event of the nascent universe: banging inflation. Thereafter, the original relatively infinitesimal volume expanded enormously to produce our present universe. Krauss recounts its history, underling the recent discoveries that not only increased our knowledge but also our ignorance (imperfect knowledge).
Krauss, a pioneering theoretical physicist, at the forefront of exploratory cosmology and particle physics, tackles the timeless enigma, articulating how cosmic physics has literally changed the response to this ancient question. Recent research into the origins of the universe explored by quantum mechanics, shows that our universe could arise from nothing. I enjoyed above all Richard Dawkins 'Afterword', that nothing expands the mind like the expanding universe, made known to the lay by Sir James Jeans before Dr. Krauss was even born. He concludes that, "Krauss's vision of the cosmology of the remote future is paradoxical and frightening!"
Krauss is a brilliant guy with a lively style but this book, despite offering the general reader some real insight into contemporary cosmology, and some rye jokes, was a bit of a disappointment to me. The main problem I think is that Krauss doesn't come to grips with the implied question in the subtitle, "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
First he wants us to know that "why" questions are really not science, they're philosophy. The question our esteemed author insists on is "HOW is there something rather than nothing?" But this is not the same question.
Next there is the sleight of hand with the notion of "nothing." Putting aside word play such as the ambiguity in, say, "nothing matters," it is not correct to say that the universe came from nothing because it came from the expansion of space. Space is not nothing, as Krauss admits on page 152. The question then would be why does all this space exist? The answer, it came from inflation. But inflation required energy and that also is not nothing.
So all of Krauss's talk (from the also brilliant Alan Guth, by the way) about the universe being the ultimate free lunch is just that, talk. The plain truth of the matter is that, yes, the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is a philosophic question and not the sort of question that physics can answer. However it is not a subterfuge for slipping God into any equation (as Krauss implies), although I suppose some people do that. It is instead a profound question that has been asked, as Krauss points out, since antiquity with still no answer in sight. If we could get an answer as Hawking said, we would know the mind of God.
Krauss gives physicist Frank Wilczek's answer which is that "nothing is unstable." Somehow I didn't get the proof for that except to understand that virtual particles go in and out of existence in "empty" space according to quantum mechanics, which I don't doubt. However again it is the case that that empty space is just not empty so there was never any instability between nothing and something because there never was any nothing. The problem as I see it is the limits of our science. There is something about space that we just don't understand. We know from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle that space cannot be empty, but we don't know why--or, as Krauss would have it, we don't know how space could be empty.
I could give you the answer, "nothing is impossible," which after reading this book, seems more and more likely, yet there is no way I or anyone else can or has demonstrated that nothing is an impossible state of the universe. Yet it could be true.
It is rather annoying (I imagine that Einstein, James Clerk Maxwell, Niels Bohr, et al. are twirling in their graves) to see physicists today doing either math or philosophy and imagining that they are doing physics. I will give Krauss credit though. He gently makes it clear that string theory, for example, is not science. (See pages 130-134)
As far as the cosmology and physics in the book go, I think Krauss makes some things that were previously opaque somewhat clear. Take for example why inflation occurred. It seems (as Guth realized) that "as the universe cooled, it underwent some kind of phase transition--as occurs, for example when water freezes to ice..." (p. 96) This led to the release of energy as "latent heat" leading to the incredible inflation that expanded the universe by a factor of more than ten to the twenty-eighth. Now THAT is an expansion.
I also liked the suggestion that the Big Bang may have spawned multiple universes. However those other universes apparently are not in any practical sense part of our universe because inflation pushed them so fast and furiously away from us that their light will never reach us. These I believe are different than those that some physicists believe came into existence outside the Big Bang. (pp. 128-129)
One thing I didn't understand is this: Krauss says that the universe is currently flat; however in the future it will be open, so ultimately the universe is NOT flat. Have I got that right?
Another thing I didn't get is this: Krauss tells us that during some time in the past before the dark energy of space exceeded the gravitational pull of matter and radiation that the expansion of the universe was slowing down. Does he mean that space was contracting or just the matter and radiation? If space itself was contracting then we have a mind's eye picture of a shrinking ball of space with matter and radiation within getting closer together. If only matter and radiation were contracting while presumably space was expanding or staying the same, we have a picture of the bubble of the universe with lots of space along its boundaries (if we can speak of boundaries of space) while nearer the center are matter and radiation. Which is it? I don't know.
Puzzling was Krauss's insistence that we live in a "special" time because the contractive pull of matter and radiation exactly matches the expansionary force of dark energy. (pp. 122-123) I think it is only special to us (or actually only to cosmologists) and moreover this special time probably spans millions of years.
Okay, now for some Kraussian jokes.
First a string theory joke. He writes, "...the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek has suggested that string theorists have invented a new way of doing physics, reminiscent of a novel way of playing darts. First, one throws the dart against a blank wall, and then one goes to the wall and draws a bull's-eye around where the dart landed." (p. 134)
Here's a bit about particle physicists and the anthropic principle (sort of): "Cosmology has produced one totally mysterious quantity: the energy of empty space, about which we understand virtually nothing. However, particle physics has not understood many more quantities for far longer!" He adds further down the page, "Maybe all of the mysteries of particle theory can be solved by invoking the same mantra: if the universe were any other way, we could not live in it." (p. 136)
On the last jocular point I would say, maybe not us but some other creatures, and they would be invoking the same anthropomorphic principle and calling it by another name.
Krauss remarks that "one way to see a supernova is simply to assign a different graduate student to each galaxy in the sky. After all, one hundred years is not too different, in a cosmic sense at least, from the average time to do a PhD, and graduate students are cheap and abundant." (p. 20)
Actually the best joke in the book is also a double pun on the phrase "universally attractive": "Any high school student will happily tell you that gravity sucks--that is, it is universally attractive." (p. 77) (No, I will not explain this.)
Another question about the nature of the state of nothing is, could there be nothing but the laws of nature existing in truly empty space and time? Or put another way (and I wonder if this is ~ Krauss's position) there is something rather than nothing because the laws of nature will always be there whether there is space and matter or not.
Near the end of the book Krauss does explicitly address the essentially philosophic nature of the question at hand. Brushing aside the need for a First Cause, he writes: "...empty space or the more fundamental nothingness from which empty space may have arisen, preexisted, and is eternal." (p.174)
Best and easiest answer I think.
--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"