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A Universe from Nothing [Hardcover]

Lawrence M. Krauss
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Feb 2012
Internationally known theoretical physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss offers provocative, revelatory answers to the most basic philosophical questions: Where did our universe come from? Why is there something rather than nothing? And how is it all going to end? Why is there something rather than nothing?" is asked of anyone who says there is no God. Yet this is not so much a philosophical or religious question as it is a question about the natural world-and until now there has not been a satisfying scientific answer. Today, exciting scientific advances provide new insight into this cosmological mystery: Not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. A mind-bending trip back to the beginning of the beginning, A Universe from Nothing authoritatively presents the most recent evidence that explains how our universe evolved-and the implications for how it's going to end. It will provoke, challenge, and delight readers to look at the most basic underpinnings of existence in a whole new way. As Richard Dawkins has described it: This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for atheism since Darwin.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145162445X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451624458
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 15.9 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"The author delivers plenty of jolts in this enthusiastic and lucid but demanding overview of the universe, which includes plenty of mysteries--but its origin isn't among them. A thoughtful, challenging book."--Kirkus

About the Author

Lawrence M. Krauss is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, and the recipient of numerous international awards for his research and writing. Hailed by Scientific American as a 'rare scientific public intellectual', he is also a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines and appears frequently on radio and television. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something from nothing 17 Feb 2012
By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this book, Lawrence Krauss addresses the problem of how the complex universe we observe arose out of `nothing'. In the Preface he briefly discusses the different meanings ascribed to this word by scientists, philosophers and theologians. Not surprisingly, there is little progress to be made here. Better to leave the philosophers and theologians to their word games and concentrate on the job of exploring its consequences in nature. That is what is done in this book.

Krauss starts with the standard history of the Big Bang: the evidence that supports it, and the need to introduce `dark matter' to reconcile measurements of galactic dynamics with the observed mass of their constituents. Dark matter is about 30% of the energy of the universe. Its nature is still unknown and is a very active field of research in particle physics. Then came the speculation that quantum fluctuations result indirectly in `empty space' being the source of an even greater energy, the so-called `dark energy', which would be about 70% of the total energy of the universe. The amount of mass/energy in the universe determines its geometry, and experiments in 1998 confirmed a `flat' universe (the meaning of this term is carefully explained) so the existence of dark energy is now inescapable. It implies a resulting force that causes the expansion of the universe to increase, rather than to decrease, as had been assumed. The origin and nature of dark energy is the greatest unsolved puzzle in physics today.

Krauss then considers how quantum fluctuations could have produced the conditions for a flat universe, since even a minute deviation from flatness at the time of the Big Bang would not produce the flat universe we see today.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing, like something, happens anywhere... 22 Feb 2012
By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Why is there something rather than nothing? What do we even mean when we talk of nothing?

In this book, the author, expanding on his popular YouTube video, describes how developments in cosmology over the last 20 years or so have helped further our understanding of the origin of our universe as well as where it is likely to be heading and how "something" may indeed have come from "nothing". We may, as the author points out, also be extremely fortunate to be living in what is a (cosmologically speaking) brief window in the history of the universe in which the evidence for the origin of the universe is relatively easily observed and deduced.

Generally speaking, I found this to be as well-written and lucid account of our current understanding of our universe, its origins and future as any that I've come across. While the author in the main does a good job of getting across some complex ideas it isn't always an easy read and is tough going in places. I found myself on several occasions thinking "No. Don't get that!" and heading back to the start of that particular passage. It is worth sticking with though and does reward the patient reader, as I can testify!!
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing more to be said? 21 Oct 2012
By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a difficult book. Not on account of its style - it's well written and I never lost interest throughout - but on account my difficulty in comprehending some of the radically counter intuitive ideas presented therein. Whether other readers suffer from the same handicaps as I did will depend on their degree of expertise in this subject or whether they are better capable than I am of grasping the ideas in this book.

Let me tell you from a lay perspective what I did manage to grasp. The book goes over some familiar ground, the nature of the universe has cosmology has revealed to us over the past 100 years - how we can tell that the universe is as old as it is and the by now familiar problem of dark energy and matter. The fact that the atoms in your body were forged countless millennia ago in the nuclear furnaces of long dead stars and other such wonders are covered well. He also offers a fascinating prognosis on the universe's eventual fate - now is a great time to be a cosmologist, because in a 100 Billion years time, space will expand so fast that it will physically haul galaxies along with it faster than the speed of light. That means we will no longer be able to observe other galaxies and our galaxy will appear to be alone in the universe.

But what does Krauss mean by nothing? Well, he seems to be using it in two senses. The first is empty space. It is not in fact empty. What we think is empty space is in fact mass, it has energy, it produces particles which seemingly spring from nowhere and disappear back into nowhere. Nothing in empty space weighs something because of quantum effects - particles constantly bubbling up from seemingly nowhere. That goes for sub atomic level too, 90 percent of a mass of a proton is empty space!
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmology is more romantic than I thought 18 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover
I've been waiting for this book to be released since I found the video lecture six months ago I was very excited when I received the book and read it in two days, (I will give the Youtube link in the comments if you don't want to type 'Universe from nothing' and find the richarddawkinsdotnet link). If you have seen the lecture than you have a good idea how great the book is. Much of the information is the same, there is more added. There is much more history of the ideas presented in the book, the first two chapters deal with the history of astronomy and cosmology.

I never expected the book to be as funny as it is: "I like to say that while antimatter may seem strange, it is strange in the sense that Belgians are strange."
Belgians may be an easy target to pick on for humour, and he does a good job picking on religion without distracting from the science. There is a few paragraphs that are directed to atheists about how religion gets in the way of science and thinking in general but it definitely doesn't get in the way. The book is only made stronger for for adding controversy - "Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born" -

I loved his comedy:
"I want to emphasize that this theory is not as trivial as the theological musing of Saint Thomas Aquinas about whether several angels could occupy the same place, an idea that was derided by later theologians as fruitless speculations on how many angels could fit on the point of a needle - or most popularly, on the head of a pin. Aquinas actually answered this question himself by saying that more than one angel could not occupy the same space... And if they were bosonic quantum angels, he would have been wrong in any case."

I recommend watching the video lecture first (if it is still online), if you enjoyed that and want to know more buy the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and bemusing
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that this book took me on. The trick is to suspend everything that normal people hold to be true and just go with the flow! Read more
Published 3 days ago by Mr. Michael Bilton
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
really enjoyable read and can't wait to read more books like it. has some interesting ideas and theories about lots of things
Published 5 days ago by david p bowman
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another great book
Lawrence M. Krauss is one of the smartest persons of our days and this book serves as a proof of that. Well written and filled with astonishing ideas. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Romano
4.0 out of 5 stars A good summary of his position on understanding some great cosmology
Coherent and easy to read (I have a degree in Physics that is many years old)

Not always clear where others may differ from his views though he does make it clear this... Read more
Published 21 days ago by S. M. Watts
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
If you have any thought about the reality that we live in and am not afraid of opening your mind to some truly awesome, humbling and disconcerting concepts concepts then buy this... Read more
Published 22 days ago by L Drennan
3.0 out of 5 stars A Universe from Nothing
The book describes the advances in cosmology and quantum physics to demonstrate how the Universe evolved from empty space. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and informative - but some key arguments seem very weak
As a non-physicist I would say the book is enjoyable and on the level of scientific observation, probably quite robust (for example demonstrating that something can come from... Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. Bellingham
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Enlightening Books I Have Read
This is a great summary of advances in physics in the last century. It clearly outlines the accelerating progress in physics and some of the major uncertainties remaining. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wayne Wilmot
5.0 out of 5 stars Super interesting
I watched Krauss's videos on youtube before, so I new more or less the content of the book, but still I'm glad I bought it. Very interesting topic and interestingly described.
Published 2 months ago by Lukasz L.
4.0 out of 5 stars engaging, if hard going at times
Thoroughly enjoyed this engaging review of the history of modern cosmological theory and was left feeling lucky to exist at a time when it could have been written (read the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by seandellis
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