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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something from nothing
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...
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by Brian R. Martin

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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite informative, but nothing new
Many years ago, I read "Dr Zhivago" - TWICE. I had to read it twice once to plough through all the Russian names and relationships, and then again to actually enjoy the story.

This book was a bit like that, on a smaller scale. The narrative style is ok, but definitely a bit 'rougher' than other writers, such as Richard Dawkins, and the 'plot' doesn't always...
Published on 2 May 2012 by David E. Perkins


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great., 22 April 2012
I dare you to read this book and not be profoundly enthralled. If we humans can't come to grips with what Lawrence says that is our problem, the reality of physics is all around us, deal with it!
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64 of 107 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Equivocational hop-scotch., 25 Sep 2012
I can't see the point in publishing this book under its chosen title, its a contradiction in terms. Krauss spends the whole book jumping between definitions of the reality he's trying to describe. The author admits that the nothing he alludes to is something and then spends 200 odd pages describing this something and what its capable of. Then he repeatedly talks about universes coming out of nothing, particles coming out of nothing, different types of nothing, nothing being unstable. And the book is titled a 'Universe from Nothing.' This would be comical if the metaphysical conclusions the layman will draw from this redefinition of nothing weren't so serious. The word nothing is used with casual abandon today especially by physicists with a hidden agenda.

I feel its my duty therefore to highlight the philosophical distinction between nothing and something for the lay reader. The best way to do this is by way of a syllogism.
First though, If I were to say `there's nothing in the fridge', I wouldn't mean there's a tasty beverage in the fridge called nothing which I'm going to enjoy later. The proper definition of nothing is "not anything". It is the absence of anything, a state of universal negation.
So the first major point to make is that you must be careful not to conflate nothing with something otherwise fall foul of the fallacy of equivocation this involves treating the word nothing as if it were something, take the following syllogism:

1) Sugar is better than nothing.
2) Nothing is better than sweetener.
3) Thus, sugar is better than sweetener.

We can uncover the fallacy by simply rephrasing the premises, avoiding the word nothing:

1) It is better to have sugar than to not have anything.
2) There does not exist anything that is better than sweetener.

The conclusion sugar is better than sweetener does not follow from these premises.

With that in mind you have to be vigilant and wise to what Krauss means when he talks about nothing. In doing so you realise that Krauss is busy squirming around trying to redefine nothing when really he is referring to the quantum vacuum. The quantum vacuum is something. It has properties. It has energy, it fluctuates, it can cause the expansion of the universe to accelerate, it obeys the equations of quantum field theory. We can describe it. We can calculate, predict and falsify its properties. The quantum vacuum is not nothing, empty space can have a structure such that it can be warped and distorted. If what you are making reference to has properties, then it is not nothing.

The upshot of all this is that far too often Krauss and other theoretical physicists are guilty of the fallacy of equivocation when referring to the quantum vacuum as nothing. With Krauss I find this particularly puzzling given his admission at the beggining of the book. I can therefore only deduce that its because of his Atheistic worldview and the demand to avoid a first cause this places upon him.

Incidentally when a philosopher such as Leibniz asked the question "why is there something rather than nothing?", he wasn't asking "why are there particles rather than just a quantum vacuum?" if that was all he was asking then Krauss may have a good case for having answered this deep philosophical question but in actuality what he was asking was "why does anything exist at all?".

Three quotes that Theoretical Physicists should take heed of:

1) "Cosmologists sometimes claim that the universe can arise `from nothing'. But they should watch their language, especially when addressing philosophers. We've realised ever since Einstein that empty space can have a structure such that it can be warped and distorted. Even if shrunk down to a `point', it is latent with particles and forces - still a far richer construct than the philosopher's `nothing'. Theorists may, some day, be able to write down fundamental equations governing physical reality. But physics can never explain what `breathes fire' into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of `Why is there something rather than nothing?' remains the province of philosophers." (Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers)

2) "The concept of a universe materializing out of nothing boggles the mind ... yet the state of "nothing" cannot be identified with absolute nothingness. The tunneling is described by the laws of quantum mechanics, and thus "nothing" should be subjected to these laws. The laws must have existed, even though there was no universe. ... we now know that the "vacuum" is very different from "nothing". Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend a warp, so it is unquestionably something. As Alan Guth wrote, "In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from." (Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One)

3) "In a quantum system, the notion of a vacuum is a little different from our usual conception of such a state. It is not simply `nothing at a'. Rather, it is what is left when everything that can be removed from the system has been removed: it is the state of lowest energy." (John Barrow, New Theories of Everything)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Really liked it., 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: A Universe from Nothing (Paperback)
A very good book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 9 Oct 2014
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very informative
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars out of date science, 27 Jan 2014
This review is from: A Universe from Nothing (Paperback)
Review of ‘a universe from nothing’.

A rendering of the history and development of physics and its application to cosmology over the last one to two hundred years or so, to enlighten ourselves on how the universe came into being. The author, scientist Lawrence M. Krause, bombs us along on a journey of discovery, exploring his personal understanding of how the universe may have come about from absolutely ‘nothing’, using both quantum physics and the theory of relativity. Incidentally, these two separate theories have never been proved to actually work together but nevertheless he thinks they could, somehow, eventually, maybe. Anyway, he then explains how astrophysics has determined our universe to be ‘flat’, meaning in a trillion years or so of increasing expansion it will be so dispersed no astronomer living then will ever hope to see the same galaxies we see today. Neither will they have any notion of the ‘Big Bang’ ever happening. This is all fascinating stuff providing a picture of the universe’s inevitable depressing and lonely end. Having said that, much of what is written here is a little out of date now, even packing off the poor old ‘Creator’, which seemed unreasonable, for surely a ‘Creator’ could have come from ‘Nothing’ also. Mr Krause unfortunately loses the argument here, ceasing to be scientific and running off into fantasy land. The book’s main objective suddenly seemed to be about dispensing with belief in any creative force. Yes, you have it, Mr Krause is an atheist and to back the crusade invites along fellow atheist Mr Richard Dawkins, to review the book in a supportive afterword.

This is all very well, one atheist supporting another but the point to be made here is that scientifically, the Big Bang theory remains only a theory even today, still under revision by the scientific community on the basis the old views have changed somewhat because of relevant new findings. It is still unclear how the universe started and if whether the universe is flat or not. Embarrassing for a scientist to use immature unproven platforms to try justifying atheist views. That is not scientific and I am not impressed, not that I am a member of any Christian or religious community mind, so judge these comments without bias or prejudice, finding his challenge remarkably pathetic and churlishly arrogant. This is not unlike how the Catholic Church once attacked science back in the 14th century.

As the scientist Max Planck, founder member of Quantum Physics, pointed out, ‘Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve’. Another way of expressing this is how Buddhist scholar Alan Watts expresses problems of attempting to define the mystery of consciousness, ‘A bit like trying to bite your teeth with your teeth.’

Science should not be used to employ dogma, surely it is there to learn with open mind and decide nothing is fact until absolutely proven? On the basis given I cannot really recommend this book, especially to science undergraduates.
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29 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to take a fascinating subject and make it boring., 25 Oct 2012
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plot hound (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Universe from Nothing (Paperback)
This should be a good book, the subject matter is interesting and has great scope on the practical and theoretical side, but it isn't.

Krauss turns an interesting subject into a dull slog, he doesn't present either a logical progression of discovery or of time but instead jumps around in an annoying and confusing manner. There are a lot of facts here and a lot of things I didn't know but the journey should be interesting not just the facts and this journey was frustrating.

Krauss also insists on putting religion into the book at every turn making snide comments and trying to appear smart at the expense of people who believe in the literal truth of religion instead of science.
This is very tiresome, and is just preaching to the choir since I can't imagine many people picking up this book who don't believe science holds the answers to the important questions and, even when I am in complete agreement, I find being smugly preached at irritating.

I was hoping for something like Ian Sample's excellent book Massive: The Hunt for the God Particle but instead got something that isn't science, isn't philosophy and isn't good.

A missed opportunity.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 29 Oct 2014
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Enlightening
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not well written, 15 July 2014
By 
Dr. Gwendolynn Heley (Co. Durham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Universe from Nothing (Paperback)
This book is not very well written. The author is clearly very knowledgeable, but is not a good writer. There are too many references to people he knows, and too much talking about himself and his own contributions to the field.This gets annoying as it does not help with the flow of the explanations. I got bored even when I tried to persevere with this fabulous subject. Please try again Lawrence M. Krauss!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing!, 28 April 2014
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A detailed look at the origins of our univers. Very informative and a lot can be taken away from this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work from an excellent author, 24 April 2014
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Being a scientist my self, I see Lawrence Krauss as one of my favorite scientists. Therefore, I have chosen his book.
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A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss (Paperback - 13 Sep 2012)
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