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?
Krauss’ answers to these and other timeless questions, in a wildly popular lecture on YouTube, has 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. Scientists have, however, historically focused on more pressing issues—such as figuring out how the universe actually functions, which could help us to improve our quality of life.
In this cosmological story that rivets as it enlightens, pioneering theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explains groundbreaking scientific advances that turn the most basic philosophical questions on their head. One of the few prominent scientists to have actively crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss reveals that modern science is indeed addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing—with surprising and fascinating results. The beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending theories are all described accessibly, and they suggest that not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing.
With his characteristic wry humor and clear explanations, Krauss takes us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it will end. It will provoke, challenge, and delight listeners 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 has profound consequences and directly affects how we live in the present. As Richard Dawkins described it, this could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for supernaturalism since Darwin.
©2012 Lawrence M. Krauss (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“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)
Let me just say, this book is great! But if you (like me) have gone thru a few books on the subject, for example Stephen Hawkins and Leonard Mlodinow’s The Grand Design (A more extensive look into this subject) this one will not make you much cleverer. But it will not bore you, far from it.
If you have no prior knowledge on the details surrounding the subject this book offers you great new insight from the world of physics and cosmology on how the universe came to be from absolutely nothing. Let me offer you the short layman formula: First there was nothing but nothing happens to be unstable on the quantum level. This “unstableness” created something that we now know as the Big Bang. Sounds weird? Yes it does, and that is one of many side stories of this book: That the modern understanding of reality goes beyond what we humans might be able to understand, comprehend and prefere. A quote from the book summarize this in seven words: “The universe does not owe us comfort”. And perhaps that is true, but I assure any potential reader that this book will offer you awe and wonder about the nature of reality and perhaps a better understanding of what reality is - and what it is not.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The author’s narration is completely excellent. The book moves quickly and seemed to have much more information than I would have expected from a relatively short work (5.5 hours). I really felt this had the content of something twice as long.
This book is packed with interesting ideas about how the universe might have evolved from nothingness. Note the all important “might”. This book is much, much less speculative than many popular physics books, nevertheless it is quite speculative, so should be enjoyed as mind broadening and definitely not science fact.
Most modern popular physics books share a common weakness. The authors are Relativists, String Theorist, Quantumists, or Informationists, but seldom crossover or generalists. Krauss is a relativist with a nod or two to quantum theory and virtually no string theory or information theory. This is a significant weakness. Relativists often cling to particles and continuums of space-time even though there is good reasons to believe both particles and all continuums merely observer phenomena.
I would recommend reading “The Trouble with Physics” before any other popular physics books.
Although the author is good at keeping the ideas interesting while (mildly) mentioning how much we don’t know, there is an afterword by Dawkins which was a bit science-thumping and I found to be a very weak ending.
No. What I thought was going to be a book on cosmology turned out to be nothing more than a tirade against religion in general. I didn't buy this to hear about atheism, pantheism, Christianity, Islam or Vedanta. I wanted to learn cosmology.
No. I got tired very quickly of their using the book as a bully pulpit for their religion.
There were none.
The atheist proselytizing and the kissing of Richard Dawkins' rear end.
OK, you're a good little atheist. Now you get your funding for your next book.
Krauss clearly knows his cosmolgy. Sadly he goes back to the issue of God again and again and again, sounding like a very strident atheist determined to convert all who listen. I came for the science not his theologic ponderings. Better that he's said more about the science piece and about God, bettter he'd said nothing.
Bill Bryson's style in A Short History of Everything is much more engaging. Krauss could use a bit of self-effacing humour, al la Bryson.
No, this isn't destined to be a movie.
The first 2/3 of this already short book are given to an overview of more or less recent developments in physics and cosmology, in preparation for the final 1/3, where at last the subject of the book's title is addressed. When the main arguments of the book do arrive, they turn out to be based on somewhat preliminary and speculative physics- very interesting, but nowhere near satisfying or convincing as an explanation of 'how something could arise from nothing.' Also, the author promises to show how the universe(s) could come into existence without 'preexisting' physical laws- his nothing plus ultra- but fails to actually do so. Honestly I would have been quite surprised and impressed if he had; but it illustrates the most frustrating aspect of the book, which is that it purports to sketch out a framework to obviate all manner of prime mover / first cause arguments, but fails pretty resoundingly to do so.
Still, thought provoking and worth reading. Author reads pretty well- sounds like Andersen Cooper!
Letting the rest of the world go by
The book is short, simple and full of attitude.
'Nothing' is impossible. Just as 'nothing' goes faster than the speed of light (two galaxies far away from each other will recede from each other faster than speed of light), 'nothing' is unstable. Virtual particles will be created and there will be a violation of the second law of thermodynamics. He explains way better than I can and this short book is worth the listen.
The book explains how our understanding of space has been changing over time. They used to say space was a vacuum, then they would add something to the definition until finally they say that the fabric of space is teeming with vacuum energy and virtual particles are constantly being created and destroyed and dark energy floating around.
I'm a little bit puzzled why this book didn't make a bigger splash after it's publication. The author did such a good job at defending his view points. I guess, part of the problem is his view points on creation aren't mainstream. There is also the little problem of the biggest mismatch in all of science. The 10 to the 120th magnitude difference between what theory predicts and how much dark energy there really is.
The author is an exception to the rule that the author should never read his own book. He does a very good job.
The book is well explained, read and concise. Well worth the quick listen and will give you a good explanation for a possible explanation for our place in the universe.
I mostly read or listen to sci-fi/fantasy and leave getting my cosmology, quantum theory, and particle physics to the nice, digestible shows produced by Discovery, the History channel, and the like. I also really try not to use credits on something this short (less than 6 hours!)...but I'm glad I made an exception for this one. I'll admit I had to listen to the book twice (but enjoyed it both times), and that there are still some things this guy says that...I'll probably never comprehend, but wow...this book is interesting. The author also does the narration, which was actually good in this case - he's got this...sort of...animated, smart-alecky attitude combined with true passion and excitement for his work. I also like his attention to detail (or I should say attention to the right details - trying to cram all the details that went into this work would make a book like this completely inaccessible to someone like me) and his overall...take on science - that scientists don't know everything and how they should spend as much time trying to disprove their results as they do trying to prove them, etc.
Anyway - the book kind of brings you up to speed on where these guys are on figuring out...the universe, and presents some really interesting ideas on where everything came from (spoiler alert: it's in the title :P - but it's not that simple, trust me). If you're at all interested in the subject - get this book. Oh, and one final thing - Krauss doesn't say there isn't a god - just that there doesn't HAVE to be one - but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to be able superimpose god over what's being presented here either [translated: if you believe in god, this isn't going to change your opinion]
I really enjoy books like “A Short History of Nearly Everything” and “A Brief History of Time.” When I saw this book I thought it would be true to the title and tell me how the universe can go from nothing to something. Sadly the book does not follow through. Krauss keeps getting distracted with his hatred of religion and trying to prove the universe was not created. According to him, whenever an atheist scientist is proven wrong it is and evolution of knowledge. When a religious scientist is proven wrong it is an indication of ignorance. He takes great joy in pointing out those that he considers ignorant. Too bad more of his energy was not applied to the proposed subject of the book. Science with an agenda is never as accurate as scientific observation and presentation with an open mind.
His whining about religion and why God doesn't need to exist. Who cares? Just give us the science and theories about how the universe formed. If he had done that the book would have been enjoyable. I got really tired of him trying to convince me why I should stop believing in God, and telling me how much religion has derailed science.
Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould.
Voices and pace were okay.
Does not apply.
Just another boring Atheism vs. God debate that's been done a hundred times before.
Was expecting a purely quantum physics/cosmology book a la Michio Kaku.
Authour and narrator were both well-spoken, at least.
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