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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing [Hardcover]

Lawrence M. Krauss , Richard Dawkins
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 10 2012 145162445X 978-1451624458
“WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE IT? WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING? AND FINALLY, WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING?”

Lawrence Krauss’s provocative answers to these and other timeless questions in a wildly popular lecture now on YouTube have attracted almost a million viewers. The last of these questions in particular has been at the center of religious and philosophical debates about the existence of God, and it’s the supposed counterargument to anyone who questions the need for God. As Krauss argues, scientists have, however, historically focused on other, more pressing issues—such as figuring out how the universe actually functions, which can ultimately help us to improve the quality of our lives.

Now, in a cosmological story that rivets as it enlightens, pioneering theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explains the groundbreaking new scientific advances that turn the most basic philosophical questions on their heads. One of the few prominent scientists today to have actively crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss reveals that modern science is addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing, with surprising and fascinating results. The staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories are all described accessibly in A Universe from Nothing, and they suggest that not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing.

With his characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations, Krauss takes us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it’s going to end. It will provoke, challenge, and delight readers as it looks at the most basic underpinnings of existence in a whole new way. And this knowledge that our universe will be quite different in the future from today has profound implications and directly affects how we live in the present. As Richard Dawkins has described it: This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for supernaturalism since Darwin.

A fascinating antidote to outmoded philosophical and religious thinking, A Universe from Nothing is a provocative, game-changing entry into the debate about the existence of God and everything that exists. “Forget Jesus,” Krauss has argued, “the stars died so you could be born.”

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"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)

About the Author

Lawrence M. Krauss is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, and the recipient of numerous international awards for his research and writing. Hailed by Scientific American as a “rare scientific public intellectual,” he is also a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines and appears frequently on radio and television.

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books including The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Visit him at RichardDawkins.net.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, but less religion, more science Jan. 14 2012
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the third recent popular physics book about the origins of the universe (the other two were written by Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene). Each one is written in a slightly different style and theoretical/empirical approach. All are good, but I liked Krauss' book the least. Mainly because, as I said in my title, this book spends too much time talking about religion. The book is based on a popular Youtube lecture that Krauss gave, so if you've seen it (I haven't) this should be the same material expanded to slightly greater depth.

Krauss is out to demonstrate that there is no need to invoke a creator of the universe. Modern physics has advanced to the point where we can now make reasonable hypotheses about the origins of the universe. Krauss spends the first 50-60% of the book discussing the current state of cosmological physics, which is quite impressive. In a nutshell, the meeting of quantum mechanics with general relativity is allowing physicists to make reasonable estimates about the origins of the universe. Krauss admirably cites the mountain of evidence supporting the Big Bang theory and the current state of the universe. Some of the evidence is quite remarkable in how well it fits theory. It certainly wasn't preordained that it would- only careful and clever observations and tests have shown it to be very likely true. What's more, it seems that the data needed to test the Big Bang theory is only available in the early years of the universe, in which we currently live. Trillions of years in the future, if current theory is correct, it will be impossible for any sentient beings to discover the Big Bang and other processes because the universe's expansion will have hidden the data.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making much ado about...NOTHING Aug. 24 2013
By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
XXXXX

"The purpose of this book is simple. I want to show how modern science...can address and is addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing. The answers that have been obtained--from...experimental observations, as well as from the theories that underlie much of modern physics--all suggest that getting something is not a problem. Indeed, something from nothing may have been REQUIRED for the universe to come into being."

The above comes from this extremely interesting book by Lawrence Krauss. He is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Physics Department at Arizona State University, as well as Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Inaugural Director of the Origins Project. Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist. He is the recipient of numerous international awards for his prolific research and writing, and is the only physicist to receive awards from all three major U.S. physics societies.

As can be deduced from the quote above, this book answers the following question or "theological chestnut:"

"Why is there something rather than nothing?"

So as to properly answer this question, the initial chapters reviews our modern scientific picture of the universe, its history, and its possible future, as well as operational descriptions of what "nothing" might actually be.

It is not until late in the book that all this empirical evidence is put together to answer the question posed above.

What Krauss does first is to put this question in a form that science can answer, namely:

"HOW is there something rather than nothing?"

Then he defines CLEARLY exactly what "nothing" is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Big Bill TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Entertaining read that unfolds quickly. After a brief overview of the physics that lead up to this point the book goes
on to discuss Dark Energy. You remember Dark Matter - now it's Dark Energy. What the author elaborates is very
understandable. The book was generated from various speeches , discussions and/or debates the author has taken
part in. This process has enabled the book to be an excellent distillation and summary of the above occasions.
Highly recommended. Even if you don't read/understand physics , you will get this , and be amazed and entertained in
the process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy and entertaining read. July 29 2014
By Tim
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a physicist and I recommend this book to non-physicists. It tells a wonderful and significant story of how we have come to our current understanding of the nature of space and time. Many reviews are biased, one way or the other, because of Prof. Krauss' fame as an atheist. Sure enough you get the taste of that in the book, but not unless you are sensitive to it. As an atheist, you shouldn't be attracted to it as an attack on religion and as a theist, you shouldn't be put off by it's lack of respect toward religion. It really is a layman's pop-science book. It is an easy and entertaining read.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lawrence Krauss takes on a topic that confuses most of us mortals including those who are mathematically challenged as I am. Krauss uses plain language without talking down to the reader, with clear empirical support for the ideas. I'll probably read this book again, not because I need to, but because the ideas are so interesting and because they are presented in a way that stimulates thought.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting writer
Interesting physics to appeal to the young. Book well packed and made nice Xmas present.
Published 1 month ago by MHardy
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by all honest people
I fear that the reputation of scientist-authors is still colored by ignorance based on laziness. People who commit their entire lives to beliefs including the idea that they were... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rudy Krueger
2.0 out of 5 stars Well.
I suppose I should have looked at the reviews beforehand but I didn't especially care for this book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by aaron m.
4.0 out of 5 stars Something about Nothing
When I started reading this book I thought it would be over my head but I kept going for some reason. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gordon Garrettt
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written and researched book.
This is a touchy subject for a lot of people, which goes to show how igorant we all are. Krauss handles the subject well, hopefully it will enlighten a few people.
Published 14 months ago by Sir Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy reading it.
This book was very interesting and entertaining to read. I must say i am not expert in cosmology, most people are not. Read more
Published 17 months ago by King Cobra
5.0 out of 5 stars A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
This is a great book written on the cosmology. Dr. Krauss was able to deliver the concepts of Theoretical Physics and Cosmology quite effectively to the reader.
Published 17 months ago by champinn
3.0 out of 5 stars nothing new
If you know anything of cosmology this book may not be for you. There is great coverage of cosmological history, but if you are like me you've read this stuff a hundred times. Read more
Published 18 months ago by RockwoodON
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but unconvincing
Krauss's basic premise seems most illogical - "nothing is unstable".

In reality, nothing has no properties - nothing can't be unstable, because nothing is....... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Scott Campbell
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