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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 29, 2014
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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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. That makes me wonder if there are any aspects of the universe that are necessarily hidden from us right now. Krauss doesn't consider this possibility, but it makes sense that if in the future some aspects of the universe will be irrevocably hidden from observers, it's possible that in the present the same thing may be occurring. Not that we could do anything about it, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless.

I found that the first half (or so) of the book was the strongest section. It's also when Krauss explains how quantum mechanics demonstrates how something can arise from nothing (and may do so frequently on small scales in the current universe). In essence, it is quite possible for the universe to have originated spontaneously. Krauss doesn't appear to be a big fan of String theory, but he does embrace the idea of multiple universes as a possible explanation for the origins of our own. This is all very interesting, and Krauss does cover some issues that other physics writers have not focused on. I would consider this book to be stronger on evidence and weaker on theory in comparison to other popular physics books.

But what I found most grating was Krauss' continual assault on religious explanations of the origins of the universe. Not that I'm not sympathetic to the primacy of scientific explanations- I most certainly am. However, I feel that the direct attacks on religion are unnecessary because 99% of the audience who'll read this book don't need to be persuaded regarding the importance of using science to study the universe. The remaining 1% won't be swayed from their deep religious beliefs by a mere book. It's also slightly premature because Krauss is unlike Darwin (Richard Dawkins generously compares Krauss to him) who had a near rock-solid case for evolution with mountains of evidence. The precise origin of the universe are still very much a matter of multiple theoretical conjectures. I am sympathetic towards Krauss' work, I just think that physicists are less certain about the origins of the universe and the marriage of quantum mechanics and general relativity than biologists are certain about evolution by natural (and sexual) selection.

So ultimately, I think this is a four-star book. It contains some fascinating science but also a strong atheist agenda that distracts one from that science. Perhaps it is necessary to explicitly point out in science books when they conflict with popular religious ideas, but I prefer leaving that conflict implicit and for the reader to find out. In other words, give the reader more science, less religion, and if they are intellectually honest and curious (and science readers should be), they will come to the right conclusions themselves.

But don't take that as meaning that this book isn't worth reading. It definitely is. As Krauss says, "We live at a very special time...the only time when we can observationally verify that we live at a very special time!" He's definitely right, and for that reason, it's definitely worth reading this book to learn more about why this is a very special time.
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on July 19, 2016
Lawrence Krauss is a Canadian-American theoretical physicist who is Foundation Professor at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space. He is also director of The Origins Project which holds conferences and public events looking at the origins of everything from consciousness to the universe. One of the most brilliant public intellectuals and communicators of science, he not only publishes papers on the forefront of scientific discovery, but also writes articles and books to help people understand complicated concepts in physics.

In "A Universe From Nothing", Professor Krauss takes us on a fascinating journey through empty space itself to explain how science is working towards understanding one of the biggest questions there is - how there is something rather than nothing. With his wonder and awe of the universe and a charming sense of humour, he not only gives a history of those who have contributed to answering this question, laying out what we've discovered about the universe but most importantly, he encourages you to think critically about this topic. Professor Krauss has produced a refreshingly honest book about what scientists have uncovered in physics, and what still remains a mystery about how it all began. An engrossing read that is eloquently written and may lead you to reexamine your place in space.
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on June 16, 2014
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 created in God's image (etc.) by simple logic, ought to be eager to use their Godly mental capacity to expand understanding of the universe. But the ideas that seem to confront their own are treated as threats and competition. There is no spiritual grounds for this. I suggest that "believers" take a few big bites into the other ways of looking at things. Their beliefs are not likely to be changed but their gullibility will be changed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 7, 2014
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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on August 6, 2013
When I started reading this book I thought it would be over my head but I kept going for some reason. Think Lawrence Krauss has anticipated us usual people and has done all that can be done to explain the universe. After half way through I kept going a page or two at a time and kept being drawn into it. He is a self proclaimed atheist, I knew this from the beginning. It might be hard to accept the standard concept of God as there does not seem to be a place for God or heaven in his scientific approach. It is very interesting.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon August 24, 2013

"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. (The nothing of empty space is not what most people think of when they think of nothing. As Krauss tells us, "empty space is complicated.")

Finally, he explains how nothing is something and more important, that nothing is unstable.

The last chapter of this book gets away from the physics. In this chapter, Krauss gives us his thoughts including his thoughts on theology. (Note that throughout this book, there are no big discussions on theology and religion but Krauss does not hesitate to give his thoughts in passing.)

I liked the fact that Krauss asks the reader if what he has written "proves" that our universe arose from nothing? Krauss states:

"Of course not. But it does take us one rather large step closer to the plausibility of such a scenario."

Finally, there is one main problem with this book. It screams out for a glossary. True, many terms and words are defined or explained in the main narrative but many are not. Thus, I felt that a lack of a glossary was a major oversight.

In conclusion, Richard Dawkins states at the end of his "after word" for this book that:

"If 'On the Origin of Species' was biology's deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see [this book] as the equivalent from cosmology."

It's up to each reader of this book to decide whether Dawkins' statement is correct or not.

(first published 2012; preface; 11 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 185 pages; after word by Richard Dawkins; index; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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on April 18, 2016
Interesting read and a very welcome addition to the current collection of theories. The author tries to make it readable by a lay person, but the task in itself may be impossible, for a lay person would have to be familiar with many quantum physics and cosmology concepts. I disagree with the Big Bank theory and I wanted to see what and how 'nothing' could recreate itself into something. One of the boundaries of our mind frame is the fact that things have to have a beginning and an end, hence the need for a beginning... in this case a beginning of the Universe. Why is it so hard to think that the Universe... just is? it has, it is and it will be...irrespective of time.
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on August 16, 2014
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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on May 21, 2015
I found much of this work very easy to read with some amazing facts. I did get lost a few times (probably my own educational shortcomings than Krauss' writing) but I found it didn't take away from the larger message. Truly an amazing read and I recommend it to anyone who is skeptical of the universe around us and what really took place, and is taking place, in our universe.
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