A Universe from Nothing

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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
Softcover edition
AuthorLawrence M. Krauss
CountryUnited States
PublisherFree Press
Publication date
January 10, 2012
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Softcover), e-book
Pages224 pp
LC ClassQB981 .K773 2012
Preceded byQuantum Man 
Followed byThe Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far 

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing is a non-fiction book by the physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, initially published on January 10, 2012, by Free Press. It discusses modern cosmogony and its implications for the debate about the existence of God. The main theme of the book is the claim that "we have discovered that all signs suggest a universe that could and plausibly did arise from a deeper nothing—involving the absence of space itself and—which may one day return to nothing via processes that may not only be comprehensible but also processes that do not require any external control or direction."[1][2]


The book ends with an afterword by Richard Dawkins in which he compares the book to On the Origin of Species — a comparison that Krauss himself called "pretentious".[3] Christopher Hitchens had agreed to write a foreword for the book prior to his death but was too ill to complete it.[4] 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.[4][5] The book appeared on The New York Times bestseller list on January 29, 2012.[6]


In The New York Times, philosopher of science and physicist David Albert said the book failed to live up to its title; he said Krauss dismissed concerns about what Albert calls his misuse of the term nothing, since if matter comes from relativistic quantum fields, the question becomes where did those fields come from, which Krauss does not discuss.[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]

Ray Jayawardhana, Canada Research Chair in observational astrophysics at the University of Toronto, wrote for The Globe and Mail that Krauss "delivers a spirited, fast-paced romp through modern cosmology and its strong underpinnings in astronomical observations and particle physics theory" and that he "makes a persuasive case that the ultimate question of cosmic origin – how something, namely the universe, could arise from nothing – belongs in the realm of science rather than theology or philosophy".[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]

George Ellis, in an interview in Scientific American, said that "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). Who or what dreamt up symmetry principles, Lagrangians, specific symmetry groups, gauge theories, and so on? He does not begin to answer these questions." He criticized the philosophical viewpoint of the book, saying "It’s very ironic when he says philosophy is bunk and then himself engages in this kind of attempt at philosophy."[11]

Commenting on the philosophical debate sparked by the book, the physicist Sean M. Carroll asked, "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."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reynosa, Peter (2016-04-12). "Some of the Changes Lawrence M. Krauss Should Make to the Second Edition of "A Universe From Nothing"". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  2. ^ Krauss, Lawrence M. (2012). A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. New York: Free Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-4516-2445-8.
  3. ^ Andersen, Ross (2012-04-23). "Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?". theatlantic.com. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Krauss, Lawrence. "Afterword from Lawrence Krauss' New Book – A Universe From Nothing". excerpt. richarddawkins.net. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  5. ^ Lawrence Krauss's 2009 lecture A Universe from Nothing
  6. ^ "Non Fiction Best Sellers". The New York Times. January 29, 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  7. ^ Albert, David (25 March 2012). "On the Origin of Everything". The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  8. ^ Scharf, Caleb (25 January 2012). "Cosmology: Plucked from the vacuum". Nature. 481 (7382): 440. Bibcode:2012Natur.481..440S. doi:10.1038/481440a.
  9. ^ Jayawardhana, Ray (17 February 2012). "A Universe From Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  10. ^ Brooks, Michael (14 January 2012). "The paradox of nothing". New Scientist. 213 (2847).
  11. ^ Horgan, John. "Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  12. ^ Carroll, Sean (April 28, 2012). "A Universe from Nothing?". Cosmic Variance Blog. Discover magazine. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2018.

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