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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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

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Read Review Before Buying

Overall it is a more of a best seller than scholarly work. This book assumes the reader is religious and provides overwhelming evidence to overcome religion or superstition. However, for nonreligious readers, this book may be a bit boring at times. My feeling during most of the book was, "yea ok I'm not religious and don't need more convincing." It felt strange, like the opposite of a bible beating.

130 of 136 people found this review helpful

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Makes you think!

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]

63 of 72 people found this review helpful

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If you are new to the subject, listen to it!

What did you love best about A Universe from Nothing?

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.

80 of 94 people found this review helpful

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  • Dix
  • Marysville, WA United States
  • 11-04-17

What a waste

The science is very interesting, but the amount of time spent religion bashing and blowing his own horn really detracted from the book.

62 of 74 people found this review helpful

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Science with a chip on its shoulder

I thought I was getting a book to explain science, not one that seems obsessed with attacking creationism (including a strange attack on American schools, a bastion of his own scientistic views). Most of his attacks just come off as petty arguments from authority. Overall, it's a good book. I did learn more about dark energy, which apparently should really just be called the energy of space itself, but I guess that isn't sexy enough for modern physicists.

46 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 04-05-13

Great Ideas

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.

41 of 50 people found this review helpful

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Informative read

The information presented was interesting and informative. Mr. Krauss’s use of explaining that under certain scenarios the universe as we know it would not exist including students, scientist, etc was redundant and much over done. Something from nothing based on quantum theory explains much but the author’s apparent need to bring theology into the mix detracts from a very compelling scientific explanation that he has presented so well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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too much political commentary

What was most disappointing about Lawrence M. Krauss’s story?

Follows the terrible trend in popular science writing, with repeated commentary interspersed throughout the material that is meant to mock people who are scientifically ignorant. I'm agnostic and a non-believer but I am tired of scientific explanations being interrupted by opinions about whatever stupid thing some Pope once said, or how stupid school boards in Alabama or Louisiana are for failing to listen to scientists. Its another example of some popular scientists winning cheap points just preaching to the choir; its not going to enlighten anyone.

34 of 43 people found this review helpful

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Annoying

This book is more a propaganda book than a pop-sci book. I don't care about the author's view on religion, that's not his expertise. I'm not even religious but found it annoying because that is not why I bought the book.

44 of 56 people found this review helpful

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Great science writing, with a few flaws

This book is on the one hand a delight, and on the other hand a disappointment.

It's a lively and interesting look at current physics--or at least, physics as of 2011; developments have continued. Krauss gives us a clear, interesting, and compelling account of the current scientific understanding of how our universe came into existence, how matter and energy can come from nothing, and why such exotic concepts as dark matter are fundamental to understanding how this universe works the way it does and why we are even able to exist.

And if my references to "this universe" and "our universe" seem a bit strange, well, Krauss also describes why it's likely there's more than one universe.

This is all challenging material, and Krauss makes it worth the work to pay careful attention. That's a vital skill in a good science popularizer--and we need more good science popularizers. Children taught in school that science is a matter of rote memorization to pass a test are at far too high a risk of becoming adults who think science is a matter of belief and ideology--and that scientists are just being narrow-minded when they insist climate change is real, or that so-called "creation science" is simply, factually false, and not anything like real science. They will, in short, be at risk of becoming adults who think science is a liberal conspiracy out to undermine decent moral and religious values, and wreck our economy and way of life.

Where we run into trouble in this book is that Krauss thinks he has not not just make the science clear, but also make it clear that, in his mind, which he takes to be objective fact, of course you are totally free to believe in God, but "God" is completely unnecessary... He's far too polite, reasonable, and probably a totally nice guy, to say that only fools believe in God.

He doesn't seem to understand, as many other atheist or agnostic scientists do understand, that religion and science are not about the same things. (Granted, there are religious believers who make the same mistake, aided and abetted by poor quality science education in the schools.) No, Mr. Krauss, I don't need to know your views on God, or your views on my belief in God, to be a fascinated and receptive audience for your explication of the physics and cosmology you've devoted your professional life to doing such good work in. I'm not interested in what Christopher Hitchens had to say; if I were, I would read his books to find out, not yours. There's no need to quote him repeatedly in a books I'm reading because I want to know about the physics and cosmology you're writing about.

Seriously.

Now, I do need to say that there was not so much of this stuff that it prevented me from enjoying the book and learning from it. And I'm well aware that what annoyed me will make this book more attractive to some readers. If so, great! Enjoy! I don't write these reviews to discourage anyone from reading something they'll enjoy. My hope is, in fact, that even if you disagree with my judgments, you'll still be able to recognize in my reviews books you'll enjoy even if I dislike them, and books you won't enjoy even if I love them.

In any case, I did enjoy A Universe From Nothing. I just would have enjoyed it a bit more if he'd stayed on topic better.

So, on the whole, recommended.

I bought this book.

32 of 41 people found this review helpful