Excerpts From New Preface To “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence Krauss (Paperback Edition)
Appearing first on this blog and network, here are a few brief extracts from the new and extensive preface to the soon-to-be-released paperback version of Lawrence M. Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing, provided by the author to whet your appetite. These extracts are taken from a section on the meaning of nothing. The preface also contains a new section discussing the Higgs particle. In addition, the paperback version has a Q&A with the author at the end of the book.
…The renowned astronomer Johannes Kepler claimed in 1595 to have had an epiphany when he suddenly thought he had answered a profoundly important why question: Why are there 6 planets? The answer, he believed, lay in the view of the 5 Platonic solids, those sacred objects from geometry whose faces can be composed of regular polygons—triangles, squares, etc.— and which could be circumscribed by spheres whose size would increase as the number of faces of the solid increased. If these spheres then separated the orbits of the 6 known planets, he conjectured perhaps their relative distances from the sun and the fact that there were just 6 of them could be understood as revealing, in a profound and deep sense, the mind of God, the mathematician. (The idea that geometry was sacred goes back as far as Pythagoras.) Why are there 6 planets?—then, in 1595—was considered a meaningful question, one that revealed purpose to the universe.Now, however, we understand the question is meaningless [...] we realize that there is nothing profound about 6 (or 8 or 9), nothing that points to purpose or design [...] no evidence of “purpose” in the distribution of planets in the universe. Not only has “why” become “how” but “why” no longer has any verifiable meaning.
So too, when we ask “Why is there something rather than nothing?” we really mean “How is there something rather than nothing?”
[...]There are many seeming “miracles” of nature that appear so daunting that many have given up trying to find an explanation of how we came to be and, instead, blame it all on God. But the question I really care about, and the one that science can actually address, is the question of how all the “stuff” in the universe could have come from no “stuff,” and how, if you wish, formlessness led to form. That is what seems so astounding and nonintuitive. It seems to violate everything we know about the world—in particular the fact that energy in its various forms, including mass, is conserved. Common sense suggests that “nothing,” in this sense the absence of “something,” should have zero total energy. Therefore, where did the 400 billion or so galaxies that make up the observable universe come from?
[...T]he question and the possible answers to how something might come from nothing are even more interesting than merely the possibility of galaxies manifesting from empty space. Science provides a possible roadmap for the creation of space (and time) itself—and perhaps also an understanding of how the laws of physics that govern the dynamics of space and time can arise haphazardly. For many people, however, the fascinating possible resolutions of these age-old mysteries are not sufficient. The deeper question of nonexistence overwhelms them [....]
I discount this aspect of philosophy here because I think it bypasses the really interesting and answerable physical questions associated with the origin and evolution of our universe. No doubt some will view this as my own limitation, and maybe it is. But it is within that context that people should read this book. I don’t make any claims to answer any questions that science cannot answer, and I have tried very carefully within the text to define what I mean by “nothing” and “something.” If those definitions differ from those you would like to adopt, then so be it. Write your own book. But don’t discount the remarkable human adventure that is modern science because it doesn’t console you….
You can find the current version of the book, the release date for the paperback edition, as well as the author’s other titles on Amazon. Learn more about Professor Krauss by visiting his website and watching his fascinating videos on YouTube.