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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing | [Lawrence M. Krauss]

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Scott United States 08-13-12
    Scott United States 08-13-12
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    "Pretty good"
    Would you try another book from Lawrence M. Krauss and/or Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ?

    Probaby


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    See below.


    What aspect of Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ’s performance would you have changed?

    Author Krause needs to be more careful distinguishing what is science and what is merely the hope or speculations of scientists. He is so desperate to eliminate any basis for religion in the universe that he overlooks those things that are supported only by his "faith" in science and not by science itself. His "what ifs" and "perhaps" thoughts are reminiscent of the show Ancient Aliens, not real science.

    Only by rejecting the tools and methodology of religion ( e.g., personal faith and revelation) can he conclude there is no support for God in creation. If we rule out the tools of science in the same way (e.g. mathematics) we can conclude there is no support of science in creation. We need an approach that recognizes everyone's tools.


    Could you see A Universe from Nothing being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-20-12
    Joseph Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Informative, and yet, incomplete"
    Would you try another book from Lawrence M. Krauss and/or Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ?

    Yes, Mr. Kraus is informed and endeavoring to answer the larger questions that still remain in cosmology.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    A professional reader would have been a better choice to read his book. I also thought that the verbal jabs he makes at those whose belief system is different than his were unnecessary.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Pronunciation was, at times, difficult and hard to distinguish. A fine mind does not always equate to a good reader.


    Was A Universe from Nothing worth the listening time?

    Mostly, though it still leaves open the question of whether the universe really did come from nothing.


    Any additional comments?

    Mr. Kraus begins with the universe already in some primordial state of existence some time after the Big Bang. His premise is sound in that because empty space has weight, it must also have energy. He therefore posits that it is plausible to conclude that this energy can be the primary or beginning cause for how the rest of the universe came into existence.

    The problem lies in where Mr Kraus begins his journey which is sometime after the Big Bang. The book still leaves the larger question unanswered. That question is, what if anything, existed prior to the Big Bang? If it was absolute nothingness, how could something come from a complete state of absolute nothingness?

    Mr Kraus begins with empty space which is a state of relative nothingness. There is a very significant difference between relative nothingness and absolute nothingness.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Apoiuwerhpga 02-20-12
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    "Catchy title and introduction - but nothing more"

    The book's title and introduction are unrelated to the book's content, which itself is just a rehash of biographical and historical facts about cosmology as a science. Except for the book's title and introduction, the question of "a universe from nothing" or "something from nothing" is a question that is not even addressed, much less answered.

    Call if fraud because fraud is what it is, whenever the title and introduction of any book intentionally use marketing deception to induce a person to buy a book that they would otherwise find useless.

    7 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald P. Williams CUPERTINO, CA United States 06-08-14
    Donald P. Williams CUPERTINO, CA United States 06-08-14
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    "Spends too much energy attacking religion"
    Would you try another book from Lawrence M. Krauss and/or Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ?

    Probably not. The narration is very good, but the author seems to spend a lot of energy ridiculing those who may believe in God. I was not looking for a book to challenge theism, but one which would explain how the universe could appear from nothing.


    Has A Universe from Nothing turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Universe from Nothing?

    Stay focused on the science and physics. Avoid religion.


    Any additional comments?

    I would have returned the book, but waited too long to listen to it and missed the one year cut off.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph United States 05-13-14
    Joseph United States 05-13-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Bait & Switch"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Krauss lures the reader in with the title of a "universe from nothing." Then, he simply just redefines "nothing." Krauss' "nothing" is actually quite "something." The author expects the reader to not notice that our understanding of nothingness is drastically different from his. This book should be titled, "Krauss redefines 'nothing'."


    Would you recommend A Universe from Nothing to your friends? Why or why not?

    No, He lures you in with a possible explanation of a universe created from nothing to only redefine "nothing."


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ?

    No. I can't trust him to deliver what he promised. It's like buying a book about the color orange, then finding out the book is talking about purple.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Green Valley, AZ, United States 09-04-13
    Karen Green Valley, AZ, United States 09-04-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Too Technical for me"
    What did you like best about A Universe from Nothing? What did you like least?

    I like the whole hypothesis and the turnaround of his inquiries. His attention to detail and his lack of sweeping statements that have no backing is refreshing.


    What could Lawrence M. Krauss have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    For me---For me, he could have dumbed it down and made it more accessible for someone who is curious, of average intelligence and who WANTS to understand what he is talking about and why he states what he states.


    What does Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Research and years and years of study with the best minds.


    Was A Universe from Nothing worth the listening time?

    Nope. I tried several times and the amount of data for ME requires a book to look at the sentences and then to digest and then look again at times. I simply could not stay with what he was saying and I aborted part way through.


    Any additional comments?

    This review could be saying more about my own ability to listen to dense material with audiobooks. I simply could not stay with it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Amen-Ra Damascus, MD, United States 07-13-13
    Dr. Amen-Ra Damascus, MD, United States 07-13-13 Member Since 2012

    An enlightened ascetic who loves language and learning.

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    "DR. KRAUSS DOES CONSIDERABLE CONCEPTUAL DAMAGE"

    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
    Summer MMXIII

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juansmith 12-13-12
    Juansmith 12-13-12
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    "Intense and mindboggling"

    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.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 09-24-12
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 09-24-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Mind blowing book."

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-19-12 Member Since 2012
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    "one of the best audio books on physics"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Universe from Nothing to be better than the print version?

    How would I know.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Universe from Nothing?

    when it clicked that the philosophical definition of nothing is meaningless and not relevant to science.


    Have you listened to any of Lawrence M. Krauss and Simon Vance ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    by far the best


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Seemed too short.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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