A Universe from Nothing

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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
AUFN LawrenceKrauss.jpeg
Author Lawrence M. Krauss
Country United States
Language English
Subject Physics
Cosmology
Genre Popular science
Publisher Free Press
Publication date
January 10, 2012
Media type Print (Hardcover and Softcover)
Pages 224
ISBN 978-1-4516-2445-8
523.1/8
LC Class QB981 .K773 2012

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing is a book by physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, first published in 2012, discussing modern cosmogony and its implications for the debate about the existence of God.

Publication[edit]

The book ends with an afterword by Richard Dawkins in which he compares the potential impact of the book to that of The Origin of Species — a comparison that Krauss himself called "pretentious."[1] Christopher Hitchens had agreed to write a foreword for the book prior to his death but was too ill to complete it.[2] To write the book, Krauss expanded material from a lecture on the cosmological implications of a flat expanding universe he gave to the Richard Dawkins Foundation at the 2009 Atheist Alliance International conference.[2][3] The book appeared on The New York Times bestseller list on January 29, 2012.[4]

Reception[edit]

Philosopher of science and physicist David Albert, in a review for The New York Times, said the book failed to live up to its title, and he criticized Krauss for dismissing concerns about his use of the term nothing to refer to a quantum vacuum instead of a "philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized 'nothing'" (i.e. instead of having the meaning "not anything").[5] Commenting on the philosophical debate sparked by (and largely ignored in) the book, physicist Sean M. Carroll asks "Do advances in modern physics and cosmology help us address these underlying questions, of why there is something called the universe at all, and why there are things called “the laws of physics,” and why those laws seem to take the form of quantum mechanics, and why some particular wave function and Hamiltonian? In a word: no. I don’t see how they could." [6] Similarly, physicist George F. R. Ellis, when asked whether Krauss has "solved the mystery of why there is something rather than nothing," notes that the "belief that all of reality can be fully comprehended in terms of physics and the equations of physics is a fantasy . . . Krauss does not address why the laws of physics exist, why they have the form they have, or in what kind of manifestation they existed before the universe existed (which he must believe if he believes they brought the universe into existence)." [7]

Caleb Scharf, writing in Nature said that "it would be easy for this remarkable story to revel in self-congratulation, but Krauss steers it soberly and with grace."[8]

Samantha Nelson, writing for The A.V. Club, gave A Universe from Nothing a 'B' grade and commented that it "is solidly in the New Atheism camp, a cosmologist’s version of Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker" but noted that "the concepts he explores are so complex, and filled with so many factors that top physicists and cosmologists don’t understand, expanding on them in print actually makes them more confusing."[9] In New Scientist, Michael Brooks wrote, "Krauss will be preaching only to the converted. That said, we should be happy to be preached to so intelligently. The same can't be said about the Dawkins afterword, which is both superfluous and silly."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andersen, Ross. "Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?". theatlantic.com. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Krauss, Lawrence. "Afterword from Lawrence Krauss' New Book - A Universe From Nothing". excerpt. richarddawkins.net. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Lawrence Krauss's 2009 lecture A Universe from Nothing
  4. ^ "Non Fiction Best Sellers". The New York Times. January 29, 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Albert, David (25 March 2012). "On the Origin of Everything". The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  6. ^ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/04/28/a-universe-from-nothing/#.U5Ir6XYvA81
  7. ^ http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2014/07/22/physicist-george-ellis-knocks-physicists-for-knocking-philosophy-free-will/
  8. ^ Scharf, Caleb (25 January 2012). "Cosmology: Plucked from the vacuum". Nature 481 (7382): 440–440. doi:10.1038/481440a. 
  9. ^ Nelson, Samantha (25 January 2012). "A Universe From Nothing". Review. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Brooks, Michael (14 January 2012). "The paradox of nothing". New Scientist 213 (2847).