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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 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471112683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471112683
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,553 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 112 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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47 of 52 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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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By F Henwood TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Oct 2012
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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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18 of 21 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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