- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books (Jan. 10 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 145162445X
- ISBN-13: 978-1451624458
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 386 g
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing Hardcover – Jan 10 2012
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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."
“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)
About the Author
Lawrence Krauss, a renowned theoretical physicist, 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 international bestsellers, A Universe from Nothing and The Physics of Star Trek. The recipient of numerous awards, Krauss is a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines, including The New Yorker, and he appears frequently on radio, television, and in feature films. Krauss lives in Portland, Oregon, and Tempe, Arizona.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Lawrences's use of imagery and story telling style is both engaging and illuminating.
I bought the book for my dad as well, to help him better understand the process and progress of scientific understanding. Also to help him distinguish between the displaced concept of "spontaneous generation" abiogenesis and evolution.
While the latter are not topics of this book, the confusion on origin subjects is illuminated by understanding the evidence for the Big Bang.
I don't understand quantum physics, but with a bit of patience it isn't too hard to keep up with Krauss as explains the origins of the universe.
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.
"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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