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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is…
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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing (original: 2012; edição: 2013)

de Lawrence M. Krauss (Autor)

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1,2343912,086 (3.71)17
"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. With his wonderfully clear arguments and wry humor, pioneering physicist Lawrence Krauss explains how in this fascinating antidote to outmoded philosophical and religious thinking. As he puts it in his entertaining video of the same title, which has received over 675,000 hits, "Forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be born." 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. And this knowledge that our universe will be quite different in the future from today has profound implications and directly affects how we live in the present. As Richard Dawkins has described it: This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for atheism since Darwin"--Provided by publisher."Authoritatively presents the most recent evidence that explains how our universe evolved--and the implications for how it's going to end"--Provided by publisher.… (mais)
Membro:KevinBailey
Título:A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
Autores:Lawrence M. Krauss (Autor)
Informação:Atria Books (2013), Edition: unknown, 240 pages
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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing de Lawrence M. Krauss (2012)

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Reading A Universe from Nothing, physicist Lawrence Krauss' hybrid of a science book and an anti-religion polemic, I couldn't help but think it would have been a much better book to read back in 2012, when it was first published. For not only has the science moved on (at one point, Krauss speculates on what the Large Hadron Collider might tell us, now that it has started running (pg. 35)), but his ardent New Atheist rhetoric hasn't, and reminds us that, unfortunately, that particular intellectual movement hasn't made any movement at all in the years since.

Krauss is at his best when he commits to the actual science. He starts slow, going into some of the basics of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics for the general reader, before stepping things up a notch and formulating his argument as to 'why there is something rather than nothing'.

Essentially, and without going into the nitty-gritty of how Krauss backs up his argument, it amounts to the fact that what we call 'nothing' – that is, empty space – is in fact a teeming morass of virtual particles and other such astrophysical peculiarities. There is, in fact, a great amount of energy in this empty space – something that we call 'dark energy' (which is different from dark matter). Because of quantum fluctuations, this dark energy can not only create 'something' out of this 'nothing', but it is inevitable that it will do so, resulting in a universe. 'Nothing' is inherently unstable (pg. 170). To paraphrase Voltaire, the universe is so strange that if it didn't exist someone would have to invent it.

Krauss smooths out the edges of this theory, and presents it more comprehensively than I have done. It is, I admit, sometimes a bit too comprehensive, and Krauss can get lost in the weeds, happily expounding on ideas that are familiar to him but not so much to us. By the time he started talking about Feynman's ideas of "sum over paths formalism" (pg. 162), he not only lost me – a fairly regular science reader – but, I realised, had already left most of his general audience behind.

This is a shame, because the book really shines when Krauss reflects on some of the implications of his arguments, and of the logical and conceptual developments in modern science. Some of these have become slightly hackneyed and Instagram-worthy (such as the line about how every atom in our bodies has come from inside a star (pg. 17)), but many remain profound. In his Afterword, Richard Dawkins rightly notes how striking is Krauss' observation that, at some point in the far-distant future, it will be impossible for astronomers to verify that the universe started with a Big Bang (pg. 107). The cosmic background radiation that serves as its evidence for us will have dissipated too widely to be identifiable. So too the galaxies: they will have moved so far apart that their light will be on too great a wavelength to reach our eyes. Unnervingly, Krauss notes, it may be that, should our current knowledge be lost by then (as it surely would on such a timescale), then those astronomers of the future would not know there was a Big Bang, or that there were even other galaxies. "It is sobering to suggest that one can use the best observational tools and theoretical tools at one's disposal and nevertheless come up with a completely false picture of the large-scale universe" (pg. 118).

Considering this admission, it is strange that Krauss is so secure and complacent in his view of God and religion. The religion vs. science debate is something that, like politics, is a tremendously interesting arena that has become increasingly tedious and disappointing due to the all-but-complete inability (or unwillingness) of each side to understand the other. It is the main flaw in Krauss' book and it ought not form such a big part of my criticism. But Krauss makes his anti-theist opinions a central and unavoidable part of his book, so we as readers have to meet him there. We either ignore it (which would half the book in length), oppose it (making the book disagreeable) or agree with it. My assessment is that these parts of the book will only appeal to those who already agree with such overtly New Atheist views, making for a rather polarising – not to say redundant – reading experience.

There is something slightly obnoxious and self-satisfied about the New Atheist conversation (and I say that as someone who happily delved into that milieu between 2008 and 2016). Krauss, to his credit, refrains for the most part from taking cheap shots at those who believe in a 'sky-god' and a man who walks on water, but, even as someone who has no deep, inherited belief system or spiritual identity, and who values knowledge and reason, I find something distasteful about contemporary 'scientism'. On two occasions in A Universe from Nothing, Krauss proudly volunteers the fact that he carries a card around in his wallet with a graph on it, for when he meets people who don't believe the Big Bang happened (pp18, 111). This, to me, does not seem like an appropriate use of a professor's time or mental energy, and is akin to a champion boxer roaming the streets looking for a fight, or a millionaire responding to a poor person saying that there's no money by pulling out a wad of bills and saying "no, you're wrong, there's plenty". People unable or unwilling to acknowledge logic – such as the logic behind the Big Bang, or any claim backed by verifiable scientific data – are people to be pitied, quietly or even silently. Ignored, not mocked and eviscerated. Maybe it's an American thing (Krauss delivers that hoary old chestnut about how more Americans believe in angels than in evolution), but from here in England it seems a lot like punching down, or attacking straw men. Scientists and educated people need to get over the fact that some people are dumb, and focus on improving their ideas by having the necessary conversations on a higher intellectual plain.

Krauss' decision to go on the offensive against religion is not only slightly obnoxious and quixotic, but it leaves him open to some irresistible counter-attacks. It is something of a Pyrrhic victory when Krauss successfully argues for why there is something rather than nothing, for if Krauss had kept this as a solely scientific argument (i.e. the afore-mentioned 'quantum fluctuations' in empty space) it would have been extremely gratifying. But by chaining it to his anti-religion cudgel, he over-reaches. By straying too far onto this ground, he reminds us that, as far as metaphysics goes, he has not proven that 'something' can arise out of 'nothing'. Compelling as a scientific observation, his argument that empty space in fact contains plenty of quantum energies and virtual particles reminds us that his 'nothing' is in fact a 'something'. The question remains: how did those quantum energies and virtual particles, those 'somethings', get to be in that 'empty' space in the first place? The underlying metaphysical argument remains unaddressed.

Had Krauss stuck to the science, it would not have to be this way. He is at his best when discussing the implications of scientific discoveries: for example, when discussing the afore-mentioned observation about how future astronomers won't have any clue about the Big Bang, he toys with the anthropic principle by saying that we live in a 'special time'. "Dark energy is measurable today because 'now' is the only time in the history of the universe when the energy in empty space is comparable to the energy density in matter" (pg. 122). In the following paragraphs, he notes the irony that this cutting-edge scientific discovery turns the Copernican principle inside out. After all, Copernicus' discovery that we're not the centre of the universe, or even of our solar system, was one of the great conceptual leaps that led science to its current place.

I could have done with more such content in Krauss' book. It is there, and in sufficient quantities to make its reading worthwhile, but those logical counterattacks to Krauss' over-commitment to the anti-God bit are, as I said earlier, irresistible. He claims he attacks God because there's no place for such a being without observable evidence, and yet makes the afore-mentioned acknowledgement that we live in a 'finite time' in which dark energy is observable (pg. 109), and that, correspondingly, there may emerge "some new observable quantities we cannot yet detect" that could be sifted by the astronomers of the future (pg. 116). This has some unacknowledged implications for his worldview: is the Big Bang true now, but not objectively true for those future astronomers, for to them it won't be verifiable? Is such objectivity unattainable? Krauss is pulling the reader into these ill-advised and unnecessary loops, and what is more he leaves them unaddressed. He acknowledges that astronomers of the future will not be able to observe much of the cosmological evidence that we can observe today, but avoids entirely the obvious logical corollary (raised by Neil deGrasse Tyson - https://youtu.be/TgA2y-Bgi3c?t=334 - on a talk show, of all the things) that there may well be things unobservable today that were observable to astronomers of a previous cosmic iteration. Maybe all traces of God have disappeared, and only His laws are left.

By this, I do not intend a theist 'gotcha' – I am not referring to the sort of 'God' who cares about unleavened bread and onanism, but the sort of 'God' that Einstein referred to: the convenient byword for undiscovered gubernatorial powers, sublime natural symmetries and exciting, as-yet-unknown forces. It is quite sad that I even feel the need to point this out, such is the state of the tedious, zero-sum religion-versus-science debate. The attacks, launched from both sides, muddy what should be clear waters, and Krauss' book, for all its fine qualities, is very much a part of this self-defeating trend.

A Universe from Nothing, which could have been a good popular science book, diminishes itself by scratching its itch and aligning itself more with the science-adjacent New Atheist movement. I can't escape the feeling that this movement has been watching its pot. Having lost its most eloquent and admirable advocate in Christopher Hitchens in 2011 (Krauss writes in his Preface that he had wanted Hitch to contribute a foreword), its remaining members have been diminishing in intellectual freshness and cultural relevance ever since. This is sad, and you find yourself wanting the self-described rationalists to rouse themselves. But then you come across an unreflective line like the following, from page 174 of A Universe from Nothing, that it is a "simple fact that nature may be cleverer than philosophers and theologians". It's hard not to recognise the inferred assumption that nature is not cleverer than atheists and scientists, and to be turned off by it. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Oct 17, 2021 |
In some ways, "A Universe From Nothing" reminded me of Stephen Hawking's book, "The Grand Design". Both discussed the depth and breath of our Universe, it's origins, and how it all came to be, from a scientist's point of view. I'm sure they're both excellent books, and while I tend to think Mr. Krauss wrote this in simple layman's terms as much as possible, I tend to gauge the author's success in bringing this information down to my level by how well I can express his ideas to others once I've finished the book. While I think Krauss did a better job than Hawkings in keeping his concepts simple and his book readable, my inability to explain the book's concepts to anyone else prevents me from rating this book too high.
I'm sure it's not fair of me to rate this book lower than average based on my inability to absorb all the ideas behind Krauss' writings. The author isn't using freakish scientific jargon, his writing is crisp and clean. But when all is said and done, I still can't say I understand something, like how the universe all around us, could conceptually arise from "nothing". So while I believe the book succeeded in informing me, it did less to bring the understanding down to my level. I understood his words without the true meaning behind the words. I'm still glad I had the opportunity to hear Krauss' ideas, and there were interesting ideas and discussions throughout, but just don't ask me to explain those ideas, because I still cannot. Perhaps the audiobook version of this book was a poor choice on my part, and the written word would have been more beneficial so I could stop and absorb the material as it was presented, at a pace more suited to my learning style.
( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Clearly, I'm not the right person to read books about theoretical physics. I'm sure it was well written, and full of bright ideas, but I did not understand them.
  deblemrc | Apr 29, 2021 |
Last qtr was a major letdown with polemic.. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
Interesting, gets a bit preachy in places, but the science is fascinating and well explained. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 39 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from? Krauss is more or less upfront, as it turns out, about not having a clue about that. He acknowledges (albeit in a parenthesis, and just a few pages before the end of the book) that every­thing he has been talking about simply takes the basic principles of quantum mechanics for granted.

...

And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me. When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.
 
A Universe From Nothing isn’t going to win any converts, nor is it particularly useful for debating with atheists, as the science sounds so fanciful. But as bizarre as the spontaneous creation and destruction of particles might seem, Krauss argues that there’s scientific proof of the phenomenon, which makes it better than any creation myth.
adicionado por waitingtoderail | editarAV Club, Samantha Nelson (Jan 25, 2012)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (2 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Lawrence M. Kraussautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Dawkins, RichardPosfácioautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Ketola, Veli-PekkaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vance, SimonNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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On this site in 1897,

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"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. With his wonderfully clear arguments and wry humor, pioneering physicist Lawrence Krauss explains how in this fascinating antidote to outmoded philosophical and religious thinking. As he puts it in his entertaining video of the same title, which has received over 675,000 hits, "Forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be born." 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. And this knowledge that our universe will be quite different in the future from today has profound implications and directly affects how we live in the present. As Richard Dawkins has described it: This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for atheism since Darwin"--Provided by publisher."Authoritatively presents the most recent evidence that explains how our universe evolved--and the implications for how it's going to end"--Provided by publisher.

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