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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing Hardcover – January 10, 2012
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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
"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."
“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.”
"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)
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Top Customer Reviews
Such topics are not easy to convey to the general public. There are two obvious pitfalls which must be avoided: either making the book too simple or making it too complex. Krauss manages to almost avoid them completely, while still introducing such alien concepts as quantum fluctuations, the curvature of space and of course general relativity. That is not to say that there aren't certain pages you may wish to reread in order to comprehend what Krauss is conveying. That probably isn't so much a fault of Krauss as an author but because a lot of topics he explains to you, simply defy common sense. Especially quantum mechanics, which tends to make my brain say "no, go away".
Despite exploring these difficult concepts, "A Universe from Nothing" doesn't read like a typical science book. It's more like a detective book, with Krauss revealing clue by clue the stunning scientific discoveries about our universe in the last century. It is incredible to think that the 400 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars may have arose out of nothing but if you follow the author, you do get the feeling that yes, it could very well have done.
As interesting as the book is, it is also funny plenty of times. For instance, when Krauss quips that "theologians are experts at nothing" when they accuse him of not truly understanding the concept "nothing".
In short, "A Universe from Nothing" is a very thought-provoking book, a compelling read and a great summary of the advances science has made in the last 100 years to explain our universe.
My only reservation is that, having explained to us so well how quantum fluctuations can lead to something from nothing, he does not tackle the next turtle down, namely, what might have caused quantum fluctuations themselves, and the phenomenon of spacetime inflation, to exist? He invokes the bubbling oatmeal (or turtle soup?) of a multiverse as the probable instigator, and our quantum fluctuations as a chance result of that churning mush, but where did the oats and the water and the stove and the pot come from? I gather that the answers are yet to be discovered, but I would have appreciated him lifting this turtle too and peeking underneath, if only via speculation.
No I am not chasing the God of the Gaps here. God drowned in the oatmeal early in the book. And Krauss points out that every cosmic phenomenon need not have a cause, simply because it does in our humdrum human lives. Still, I was left with a tinge of Einsteinian indigestion about God not playing dice. Do dice really pop in and out of existence without any explanation other than... that's just the way it is? I'd have enjoyed hearing his thoughts about that, even if pure speculation.
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.