By Chet Yarbrough
Narrated by Lawrence M. Krauss, & Simon Vance
Lawrence M. Krauss may be an excellent physicist but as an author he is an emperor with no clothes.
“A Universe from Nothing” is a fatuous exploration of physics because it fails to explain physics to the general public. Krauss either presumes the public knows enough physics to backup his generalizations or Krauss is unable to make his points clear. This reviewer believes it is more of the latter than the former. Krauss castes allusions to literature that compound his ineptitude as a writer; i.e. the only saving grace of the book is its epilogue, written by Richard Dawkins and performed by Simon Vance.
One kernel of information that comes from the book is that “nothing” is a characterization of an unstable cosmic environment, an asymmetry causing the “Big Bang” that created the universe. Krauss makes the argument that something can come from nothing; i.e. instability seeks stability and a reduction in instability came from the universe’s explosive creation. What remains unclear is why the universe is flat, why antimatter and matter disbursed as it did and, if matter and antimatter were relatively equal in the beginning, why did they not annihilate each other? It may have been because of the phenomena called expansion but Krauss’s comments on the phenomena are too brief for this reviewer to understand. Krauss refers to dark matter and energy but fails to provide much information about the scientific communities current research and speculation about dark matter and energy. It would have been interesting to hear what scientists are currently thinking about the purpose of dark matter and energy; after all, it constitutes over 75% of the universe.
Krauss drops the name of Christopher Hitchens a number of times. Hitchens is alleged to have been writing a forward to “A Universe from Nothing” when he died. Hitchens, as a well-known atheist and intellectual, may very well have intended to write the forward but one wonders what he would have thought of Krauss’s use of literary quotes. Editors of “A Universe from Nothing” did not ask enough questions about Krauss’s generalizations and were apparently unable to squelch his tendency to use cliché’s of literature that rarely made his point. One has to believe Hitchens would have been appalled by Krauss’s writing.
This is a disappointing book because too many words were used to make one relatively clear point, that something can come from nothing but one still wonders where that nothing came from. One realizes understanding is a two way street. It may be the listener’s deficiency rather than the writer’s skill but as S.I Hayakawa once noted, communication is the responsibility of the communicator because the communicator has control of the conversation; particularly true in the case of a book where there is no opportunity for question. [contact-form-7 id=”1710″ title=”Contact form 1″]