Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lawrence Krauss - A Universe From Nothing (Simon & Schuster, 2012) ****

Why is there something rather than nothing? The major question that has been driving philosophical thought and theology for thousands of years.

Lawrence Krauss tries to give a glimpse of what might look like an answer. And if anybody can know, it's him. With degrees of physics of MIT and Harvard, he is now professor of cosmology at the University of Arizona.

He gives many examples of things that come to existence from nothing, which is really common at the level of the smallest components of our quantum world. And because the big universe out there is only an assembly of these small particles, there is no need for a cause to exist. That is just the way it is. "Ultimately, this question may not be more significant or profound than asking why some flowers are red and some are blue".

Obviously, before getting there, Krauss takes us on an interesting - and often personal - journey, creating a big picture of insights from quantum physics to the consequences of this weird world for a better understanding of our universe. He explains it in a layman's language, without any need for prior understanding of mathematics or physics. Nevertheless, it remains quite a feat to grasp the latest theories, for the simple reason that it's impossible for us to picture them with our macro-world perspective. How can you understand what a "multiverse" might look like. Or how can you understand a closed universe, one in which if you could see far enough, you would be looking at the back of your own head? How can you understand anti-matter?

One thing is certain for him. Even if we do not understand all aspects of our world and universe, there is no need for a "god" to have created it. There is not only no need for it, it would make the whole even more complex and more unlikely.

Interesting reading if you're interested in the most profound question of our existence.

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