I just finished “A Universe From Nothing,” by Lawrence Krauss. I found it intensely interesting and enlightening. From a purely scientific perspective, I found it engrossing and understandable, even for a lay-person like myself. There were definitely some points that I did not completely understand, but it helped me to also watch his lecture about this topic online for clarification.
Krauss tells the history of cosmology, how its discoveries paved the way for the truly mind-boggling science that is taking place right now. He explains, in understandable language, how the mathematics involved work to tell us what we now know about the beginning, current state, and end of the universe. How does one “weigh” the universe? What is the significance of dark matter? Is nothing really nothing?
When reading “A Universe From Nothing,” I began to see why what Dr. Krauss was telling me about dark energy was important to the overall understanding of our world. I also feel that I could, in a simplistic manner, explain what he wrote, to others.
From the distribution of matter over the universe to the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation; from the speed of light to the geometry of the universe; Krauss explains how all of this is tied together, how it works and what we can learn from it. It is all connected to the bigger picture and thesis of this book: something can come from nothing. In fact, it does all the time.
I highly recommend it.
If you read my preview of this review, you know that I had three questions before reading this book. How has this book answered them?
“Is it possible there was ever a point where actually "nothing" existed? Not empty space, but absolutely a complete lack of anything? More specifically, can a theist still posit that if you go "back" far enough, there had to be a beginning point that absolute nothing and something sit on opposite sides?”
As far as I understand the current thinking in cosmology, the answer is probably. But it is not as simplistic as I once thought.
“Does the concept of absolute nothing even make sense to think about any longer? Is it just a simplistic notion that can be shrugged off in physics?”
It still makes sense to think about. But of course it is hard to even imagine. Since “nothing,” in this case , means “non-being,” not just empty space, it's an odd concept. In the immediate, and more certain sense, when Dr. Krauss is explaining how something can come from nothing, the nothing he is referring to is actually the nothing that most people think about when picture nothingness – open, empty space. Take a small patch of space, remove all the radiation and particles that we consider to be something, then that's the sort of nothing that he means. But guess what? 70% of the mass of the universe is in that sort of nothingness. It turns out, as Krauss himself says, “nothing isn't nothing anymore.”
In regard to the other sort of nothingness, non-being, Krauss says the following:
“...quantum gravity not only appears to allow universes to be created from nothing – meaning, in this case, I emphasize, the absence of space and time – it may require them. 'Nothing' – in this case no space, no time, no anything! – is unstable.”
“How do I explain this to someone who believes there was "nothing," then God created the Big Bang?”
This is a question that I see now, really wouldn't be affected by this book. Even if everything one could possibly want explained about everything was in fact explained in this book, many people would still believe that God did it. But this book doesn't say for sure that the universe came from absolutely nothing without God, only that it could have done so.