“You come from nothing, you’re going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!”
So ends Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and so may well begin Lawrence Krauss’s latest page-turner A Universe from Nothing.
Popular science books rarely garner reviews that are themselves subject to reviews, but Krauss’s latest offering has had scientists, theologians and the general public making a fuss (arguably over nothing).
What the reviewers can’t agree on is Krauss’s use of the term ‘nothing’. In the book, Krauss details how a universe can conceivably emerge out of a quantum state of nothingness – an initial condition devoid of matter, particles, properties, and even space and time – due to fluctuations and vacuum energy (the ‘energy’ of empty space).
Predictably, people have argued that this isn’t nothing; the criticism being that to rely on the laws of quantum mechanics requires an explanation as to where those laws came from.
Philosophical nitpicking aside, A Universe from Nothing provides a concise outline of the advancements in cosmology over the last century up to the present. From the mysterious entities that dominate our universe (dark matter and dark energy), to contemporary theories of inflation and the multiverse, this book should be required reading – if only for the last line, prior to the epilogue.