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A Universe from Nothing Paperback – 13 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Thus edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471112683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471112683
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Where did the universe come from? American cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss jousts with religious creationists in this trenchant book...thought-provoking --Sunday Telegraph

In this introduction to cosmology, the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explains how recent experimental observations have proved that it is scientifically possible for something to arise from nothing , providing further evidence for the Big Bang...he shows that science has an answer to what is often regarded as a theological question and that s certainly not nothing --Independent on Sunday

Science v philosophy: which can answer the big questions of life --Observer

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE on 22 Feb. 2012
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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114 of 126 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Feb. 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John on 20 July 2015
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The question of why there is 'something' rather than 'nothing' seems to me to be the most important and fundamental question that one can ask, because 'nothing' seems easy to achieve, but a complex universe equipped with laws of physics etc. would appear to require a lot of design work and effort. I bought this book in the hope to get some insight into how Something could arise from Nothing.
Firstly, the author seems have some axes to grind. He has clearly been in disagreements with Theists and/or Creationists and using this the book to take a shot back at them. Also, the author seems to have a secondary (or perhaps not so secondary) objective in documenting his own achievements in the field of cosmology. One can't help feeling he is trying to position himself for posterity.
On the question of 'something from nothing'. I did not feel much real progress was made on answering this question: The book illustrates that, in the light of scientific discoveries, that what people used to think of as nothing (i.e. empty space) is boiling with quantum activity on very small scales. It is therefore far from Nothing. The basic question that the book attempts to answer is simply pushed back one level further down. That is, the question becomes 'why do there exist laws of physics and quantum mechanics rather than nothing'. The author makes a lot of wordplay around this point but, for me, does not hide the fact that the book is rather disingenuously promising something that it does not deliver. Kind of a 'slight of hand' I'd say. The bottom line for me is that it remains just as incredible and awe-inspiring as it always did that there is Something rather than Nothing. This book does not change anything about that. What is does do, is to put forward the author's argument for how our visible Universe could have arisen from not very much, given pre-existing laws of physics (which of course are quite something).
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Serghiou Const on 29 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The particle physicist and cosmologist author is an engaging popular science writer. The author addresses the general reader who has an interest in cosmology while the text does not contain a single mathematical formula. The author takes us into a fascinating journey during which he weaves the arguments that led astrophysicists and cosmologists to develop a compelling scenario of a universe being created from virtually nothing, precisely dating its creation at 12.72 billion years ago.

The author wisely advises the reader quoting Jacob Bronowski that the nature of the universe will not be the result of hope, revelation, or pure thought;it will emanate from probing its nature and we have to accept it as it is whether we like it or not and even when it runs counter to our intuition or defies our imagination.

I find it productive to commence the review proper by defining what the author means by the term 'nothing' because in science even 'nothing' has to be defined. In the context of the book it means empty space with energy associated with it, even in the absence of any matter or radiation and in which the laws of nature such as quantum mechanics and general relativity operate. In this sense empty space is complicated. It is teeming with virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in a time so brief we cannot see them directly. Virtual particles are manifestations of a basic property of quantum systems. These 'quantum fluctuations' imply something about the quantum world:nothing always produces something, if only for an instant;or as cosmologist and Nobel prize laureate, Frank Wilczek aptly put it 'nothing' is unstable.
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