An enlightened ascetic who loves language and learning.
Nothing is more important than metaphysics, the area of investigation encompassing ideas pertaining to the ultimate nature of reality. Pardoning the pun, the notion of “nothing” is an important aspect of metaphysical theorization and explication. This explains why it is so disheartening when a scientist of the stature of Dr. Lawrence Krauss offers an exposition of the essentiality of nothingness to the nature of existence that is altogether underwhelming. Dr. Krauss can be forgiven for focusing an inordinate amount of attention on dark matter and dark energy since these cryptic constituents of the cosmos dominate its composition and because the theorist made his most important contributions to this area of the field. Dr. Krauss cannot be forgiven for ignoring the work of others, myself included. Lest this critique seem self-serving, let us be explicit and objective. Dr. Krauss attempts to make the case that the nonentity understood as nothingness is an essential element of our modern understanding of cosmology. Again, he can be forgiven for focusing on gravity (aggregately in its negative and positive guises) as among the most apparent indications of the absence of net positive mass/energy in the universe. I invoke a similar (though not identical) argument in MIND, MATTER, MATHEMATICS, & MORTALITY (M4): MEDITATIONS ON A MOMENTOUS METAPHYSICAL THEORY (Amen-Ra, 2011). However, apart from a cursory mention of the implications of electromagnetism and quantum indeterminacy, he stops at this. What is more, limiting himself to the aforementioned areas, he explains these inadequately and neglects to mention authors who have expounded more eloquently (and accurately) upon these ideas.
Contrast this with M4. In elaborating the elements of what I term “Immaterial Monism”, I discuss in detail the most momentous aspects of cosmology and particle physics pertinent to the picture of the universe as arising from nothing, being composed of nothing, and eventuating in nothing. In this ideational enterprise I give due credit to Nobel Laureate Dr. Leon Lederman. It was Dr. Lederman in his immensely entertaining work THE GOD PARTICLE who explicitly indicated the importance of the apparent observational evidence that elementary particles (i.e. quarks and leptons) are infinitesimal and, ipso facto, immaterial. This automatically implies that the fundamental constituents of matter are akin to nothingness, physical nonentities. I discuss in detail the astounding work of Nobel Laureates Dr. Kendall and Friedman for their experimental establishment of the tripartite, point-like character of the proton and the resulting “quark model” of baryonic matter. Of course I discuss Einstein and the implications gravitation. However, I buttress this discussion with the weighty words of Dr. John Barrow who explains the immaterial implications of gravitational theory with a clarity that Krauss cannot equal. Dr. Krauss does touch upon the importance of quantum mechanics. There is a glaring omission however. He does not make the crucial connection that if “material” particles can be exhaustively explained by wavefunctions, if wavefuntions are (defensibly) deemed to constitute the particles they so thoroughly describe, and if wavefunctions are essentially mere mathematical constructs, the immaterial or ideal essence of matter has thereby been established. I cannot fault Krauss too much in this regard, for even Dr. J. Al-Khalili did not come to this conclusion in his monumental QUANTUM: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED. As far as I know (and, trust me, I have searched ceaselessly), I am the fist and (evidently) only theorist who has explicitly made this conceptual connection. This is not the only quantum oversight Dr. Krauss commits. Can anyone discuss the concept of creation coming from a quantum “flux” in the void without being beholden to the insights of Dr. E. Tryon, and giving proper credit thereto? I think not. Again, Krauss cursorily comments on the interrelationship between electromagnetism and immateriality but his exposition is encumbered and convoluted. Contrast this with Dr. Michio Kaku’s concise and compelling description in PARALLEL WORLDS and you will assuredly affirm the Author’s opinion. Moreover, to this description Dr. Kaku adds an additional element: the fundamental physical property of spin. The net-zero spin of the universe implies its emergence from a state of nothingness according to Kaku’s analysis.
Without delineating Dr. Krauss’ didactic deficits excessively, it must be mentioned that M4 does not neglect to discuss the importance of the Higgs Boson and its implications for immateriality. This the Author does with the indispensible explanatory aid of Dr. Lederman and Dr. Brian Greene. To his credit, Dr. Krauss does discuss the crucial concept of the cosmological singularity. However, he does so from the vantage of the admirable Monseigneur Dr. Georges Lemaitre, whose ideas are appreciably antiquated. Contrast this with the Author’s discussion in M4, wherein the rigorous reasoning of Drs. Hawking and Penrose is presented and the attending implications for immateriality explained explicitly.
Finally, Dr. Krauss falters philosophically. It will not do to hide behind the fact that he is not a philosopher. Do not philosophers have something important to say about the nature of nothingness and its metaphysical meaning? I think so—Dr. Krauss does not. This is why the Author devotes an entire chapter of M4 to “Ideational Antecedents”, doling several separate sections to philosophers that have made interesting (if ultimately questionable) contributions to the discussion of the notional necessity of nothingness. In short, Dr. Krauss does not offer a coherent metaphysical system that integrates the idea of nothingness as is true of the Author’s theoretical framework, Immaterial Monism. Much less does Dr. Krauss offer any psychological solace for the forlornness that the ideological acceptance of existential nothingness can engender, especially among “infidels”, atheists, agnostics, and skeptics—presumably his target audience. No wonder Dr. Dawkins ends the Afterword of the bleak book in such dejection and despair. [At least Richard Dawkins can derive some satisfaction that his depressing words were read by the exemplary orator Simon Vance. Someone with questionable judgment thought it best to have Dr. Krauss read his own work. This only added insult to injury.] To all who wish to acquire an accurate, illuminating, edifying understanding of the all-important idea of the immaterial essence of reality, I unapologetically extend an invitation read to M4. If Dr. Krauss and Dr. Dawkins have intellectual integrity (and I do not doubt that they do) they will accept the Author’s intellectual overture.
Dr. Nun Sava-Siva Amen-Ra
Damascus, MD USA
I'd be lying if I said that I understood more than half of the theoretical physics and cosmology at work in this book, but the film presents a compelling case and only prompts further interest and research in the subject matter. Krauss takes the reader on an incredible journey of discovery despite a lack of any complete assurance that he knows what he's talking except for his own word on the matter. Krauss is prodding the outside edges of human knowledge and understanding, and he is incredibly effective at convincing the reader that he came to his conclusions by following the evidence wherever it led him.
The book offers quite a sobering vision of a future in which all evidence of the Big Bang will eventually be shrouded in mystery and undetectable to future cosmologists. The idea that we're living in a special time, in which the deepest secrets of the universe are capable of being discovered, is quite exhilarating, even if the complete significance is difficult to comprehend.
Krauss is not a voice artist, but he is a skilled academic and lecturer. While I'm sure that voiceover professionals might have given a more refined oration, I'm not sure I would trust anyone but Krauss himself to deliver such dense and complex material with any real coherence. Despite the occasional unedited flub, Krauss is certainly the right person for this job.
Dawkins' afterword is well written, and read with appropriate gravitas by Simon Vance.
I was trained as an Engineer so I do have a science background. However, I haven't been keeping up with the latest thinking. It was shocking to listen to this book. I really enjoyed having such a different view of the Cosmos from what I was taught a few decades back. I am constantly struck by the thought that "nothingness is unstable." Well read by the author.
How would I know.
when it clicked that the philosophical definition of nothing is meaningless and not relevant to science.
by far the best
Seemed too short.
adults with imaginary friends are stupid. This book will offend those people. Its an amazing book that presents the information clearly. A brief into into high energy particle physics and QM will help if you're new to this subject. no one book will answer the mysteries of the universe.
Despite what some of the other reviewers have said, Krauss makes a convincing argument that the universe could arise from nothing - as long as quantum fluctuations in empty space qualify as nothing. I found his narration to be excellent as he conveys the enthusiasm that he has for the subject. I rate the book very high though I agree with some others that his continued "sniping" at the faithful is not necessary. His frustration with the God debate is worn on his sleeve.
too much time debating religious people--not what I get a book on cosmology and physics for. I already know there's no god and no afterlife.
foo much time name dropping (my good friend Dawkins etc. etc. etc.)
Krauss is a poor reader (and not a terribly good writer)--almost anyone would have been better as reader. Vance is excellent but he just had a boring afterword (basically a mutual admiration society exercise) by Dawkins to read.
Among this genre, it is an interesting book but it becomes technical at various points making it somewhat difficult to follow while listening. The listener needs to be focused and avoid distractions. There is much to be missed if the listener isn't paying attention at all times.
Krauss does a great job of summarizing the current state of physics and helping the reader put it all into context
The book suggests some novel ways, at least to the layman, of conceptualizing the makeup of the universe that I hadn't heard before. Krauss does a great job of helping reframe ones thoughts about such common conceptualizations of nothingness that may have previously been based on non-scientific assumptions.
Having the author read his own book is generally a positive, and it was definitely the case here.
Recommend to anyone who likes ideas that stretch the limits of comprehension. That is not to say that his wording is difficult nor that the narrator isn't very good - only that the subject matter is outside of what we "see" in our workaday world. Anyone who likes to read about physics, particularly quantum physics has more or less gotten used to this feeling. And if you have never read a non fiction mind stretcher - this might be a good one to try. Facts can indeed be stranger than fiction!
This is a great audio book and I always love when the material is actually read by the author. Dr. Krauss is brilliant and the material contained within is solid science based upon what we currently know about the universe.
If you're relaively new to the subject, I recommend this book. It's not necessarily introductory material but if you have a beginning understaning of modern physics in terms of astrophysics, relativity, and quantum theory, you will enjoy this book and the next steps you take with it. I'd probably recommend reading one of Brian Greene's books first to have a solid foundation.
If you've actually read many of the existing books on modern physics that are out there and seen Dr. Krauss' original presentation on this same subject, then this book adds little to the discussion. It puts it together in a nice package but it won't add much to your overall knowledge on the subject.
Again, I enjoyed listening to this book and would recommend it to friends.