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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

by and

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing Cover

 

Staff Pick

Lawrence Krauss's new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, summarizes the continuing developments in the field of cosmology. In addition to championing these new insights in the study of modern physics, Krauss also frames these advances in the appropriate context of their resulting implications for theologians and deists. Adapted from a lecture he delivered at the 2009 Atheist Alliance international annual convention (and made popular on YouTube), A Universe from Nothing explores the history of the universe from the big bang through inflation to its theoretical endpoint using the most current (and widely accepted) science.

Krauss is marvelously adept at conveying his broad scientific knowledge in as succinct and lucid a manner as is perhaps possible, making it relatively easy for a nontheoretical physicist to grasp the concepts he is attempting to illustrate. Among the more notable and recent advancements that Krauss examines in the book are the discoveries that the universe is now accelerating following the so-called "cosmic jerk" that took place some five billion years ago (see also the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics), the abundance of dark energy that appears to account for nearly three-quarters of the universe's total mass (that resides mostly in "empty space"), and the uniform flatness that characterizes our universe.  The majority of the book is spent assembling and explaining the related pieces that together form a picture of the universe which, according to the latest scientific data, seems to have evolved from nothing — in fact, it may have only been able to evolve precisely because there was nothing.

The ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment, not the comfort one derives from one's a priori beliefs, not the beauty and elegance one ascribes to one's theoretical models. The results of experiments that I will describe here are not only timely, they are also unexpected. The tapestry that science weaves in describing the evolution of our universe is far richer and far more fascinating than any revelatory images or imaginative stories that humans have concocted.

As our understanding of the nearly 14-billion-year-old universe is constantly evolving, there is clearly much to be learned about cosmology. Krauss is enthusiastic in his dissemination of the accumulated knowledge and seems eager to welcome whatever conceptual refinements future advancements will inevitably bring. A Universe from Nothing is not simply a scientific treatise, however, as Krauss considers what ramifications these new insights have on age-old theological arguments.

For more than two thousand years, the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" has been presented as a challenge to the proposition that our universe — which contains the vast complex of stars, galaxies, humans, and who knows what else — might have arisen without design, intent, or purpose. While this is usually framed as a philosophical or religious question, it is first and foremost a question about the natural world, and so the appropriate place to try and resolve it, first and foremost, is with science.

Richard Dawkins, in the book's afterword, characterizes Krauss's book as "the knockout blow" to the theologian's remaining arguments in favor of a creator. With a few hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe and a modern physics that seems to indicate that our universe could have only arose from nothing, Krauss's assertion that a god is "unnecessary — or at best redundant" is as compelling as the science he uses to arrive at said claim. A Universe from Nothing, like most books of reason and evidence, will do little to dissuade those who ardently profess their belief in a deity, but as cosmology clarifies our place in the universe with greater precision, the arguments in favor of a creator seem ever less defensible. Krauss, in this eminently readable (and often funny!) book, has ventured further down the road of rationality and empiricism, allowing us a guided tour on the never-ending quest to truly understand the nature of life in this brilliant universe we call home.

If we wish to draw philosophical conclusions about our own existence, our significance, and the significance of the universe itself, our conclusions should be based on empirical knowledge. A truly open mind means forcing our imaginations to conform to the evidence of reality and not vice versa, whether or not we like the implications.

Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The astounding New York Times bestseller — updated with an explanation of the Higgs Boson and its implications for our understanding of empty space — that offers new answers to the most basic philosophical questions: Where did the universe come from and what is the meaning of its origins for our lives today?

What came before the universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? These questions have been at the center of religious and philosophical debates about the existence of God, even though they are essentially scientific questions about how the universe actually functions.

With wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations, Krauss takes us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved — and how it’s likely to end. This knowledge that our universe will be quite different in the future has profound implications and directly affects how we live — or should live — in the present.

A Universe from Nothing is a provocative, game-changing entry into the debate about the existence of God and why everything exists.

Review:

“In A Universe from Nothing, Lawrence Krauss has written a thrilling introduction to the current state of cosmology — the branch of science that tells us about the deep past and deeper future of everything. As it turns out, everything has a lot to do with nothing — and nothing to do with God. This is a brilliant and disarming book.” Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape

Review:

"Astronomers at the beginning of the twentieth century were wondering whether there was anything beyond our Milky Way Galaxy. As Lawrence Krauss lucidly explains, astronomers living two trillion years from now, will perhaps be pondering precisely the same question! Beautifully navigating through deep intellectual waters, Krauss presents the most recent ideas on the nature of our cosmos, and of our place within it. A fascinating read." Mario Livio, author of Is God A Mathematician? and The Golden Ratio

Review:

"In this clear and crisply written book, Lawrence Krauss outlines the compelling evidence that our complex cosmos has evolved from a hot, dense state and how this progress has emboldened theorists to develop fascinating speculations about how things really began." Martin Rees, author of Our Final Hour

Review:

“A series of brilliant insights and astonishing discoveries have rocked the Universe in recent years, and Lawrence Krauss has been in the thick of it. With his characteristic verve, and using many clever devices, he’s made that remarkable story remarkably accessible. The climax is a bold scientific answer to the great question of existence: Why is there something rather than nothing.” Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate and Herman Feshbach professor at MIT, author of The Lightness of Being

Review:

"With characteristic wit, eloquence and clarity Lawrence Krauss gives a wonderfully illuminating account of how science deals with one of the biggest questions of all: how the universe's existence could arise from nothing. It is a question that philosophy and theology get themselves into muddle over, but that science can offer real answers to, as Krauss's lucid explanation shows. Here is the triumph of physics over metaphysics, reason and enquiry over obfuscation and myth, made plain for all to see: Krauss gives us a treat as well as an education in fascinating style." A. C. Grayling, author of The Good Book

Review:

"We have been living through a revolution in cosmology as wondrous as that initiated by Copernicus. Here is the essential, engrossing and brilliant guide." Ian McEwan

Review:

“Nothing is not nothing. Nothing is something. That's how a cosmos can be spawned from the void — a profound idea conveyed in A Universe From Nothing that unsettles some yet enlightens others. Meanwhile, it's just another day on the job for physicist Lawrence Krauss.” Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

Synopsis:

“WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE IT? WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING? AND FINALLY, WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? ”

One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss's characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved — and the implications for how its going to end.

Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.

Synopsis:

“WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE IT? WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING? AND FINALLY, WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? ”

One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krausss characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how its going to end.

Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.

About the Author

Lawrence M. Krauss is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, and the recipient of numerous international awards for his research and writing. Hailed by Scientific American as a “rare scientific public intellectual,” he is also a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines and appears frequently on radio and television.

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books including The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Visit him at RichardDawkins.net.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781451624465
Subtitle:
Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
Author:
Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins
Author:
Krauss, Lawrence M.
Author:
Dawkins, Richard
Publisher:
Atria Books
Subject:
Astronomy - General
Subject:
Physics
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130101
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.38 x 5.5 in

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A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing New Trade Paper
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Product details 240 pages Free Press - English 9781451624465 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Lawrence Krauss's new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, summarizes the continuing developments in the field of cosmology. In addition to championing these new insights in the study of modern physics, Krauss also frames these advances in the appropriate context of their resulting implications for theologians and deists. Adapted from a lecture he delivered at the 2009 Atheist Alliance international annual convention (and made popular on YouTube), A Universe from Nothing explores the history of the universe from the big bang through inflation to its theoretical endpoint using the most current (and widely accepted) science.

Krauss is marvelously adept at conveying his broad scientific knowledge in as succinct and lucid a manner as is perhaps possible, making it relatively easy for a nontheoretical physicist to grasp the concepts he is attempting to illustrate. Among the more notable and recent advancements that Krauss examines in the book are the discoveries that the universe is now accelerating following the so-called "cosmic jerk" that took place some five billion years ago (see also the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics), the abundance of dark energy that appears to account for nearly three-quarters of the universe's total mass (that resides mostly in "empty space"), and the uniform flatness that characterizes our universe.  The majority of the book is spent assembling and explaining the related pieces that together form a picture of the universe which, according to the latest scientific data, seems to have evolved from nothing — in fact, it may have only been able to evolve precisely because there was nothing.

The ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment, not the comfort one derives from one's a priori beliefs, not the beauty and elegance one ascribes to one's theoretical models. The results of experiments that I will describe here are not only timely, they are also unexpected. The tapestry that science weaves in describing the evolution of our universe is far richer and far more fascinating than any revelatory images or imaginative stories that humans have concocted.

As our understanding of the nearly 14-billion-year-old universe is constantly evolving, there is clearly much to be learned about cosmology. Krauss is enthusiastic in his dissemination of the accumulated knowledge and seems eager to welcome whatever conceptual refinements future advancements will inevitably bring. A Universe from Nothing is not simply a scientific treatise, however, as Krauss considers what ramifications these new insights have on age-old theological arguments.

For more than two thousand years, the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" has been presented as a challenge to the proposition that our universe — which contains the vast complex of stars, galaxies, humans, and who knows what else — might have arisen without design, intent, or purpose. While this is usually framed as a philosophical or religious question, it is first and foremost a question about the natural world, and so the appropriate place to try and resolve it, first and foremost, is with science.

Richard Dawkins, in the book's afterword, characterizes Krauss's book as "the knockout blow" to the theologian's remaining arguments in favor of a creator. With a few hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe and a modern physics that seems to indicate that our universe could have only arose from nothing, Krauss's assertion that a god is "unnecessary — or at best redundant" is as compelling as the science he uses to arrive at said claim. A Universe from Nothing, like most books of reason and evidence, will do little to dissuade those who ardently profess their belief in a deity, but as cosmology clarifies our place in the universe with greater precision, the arguments in favor of a creator seem ever less defensible. Krauss, in this eminently readable (and often funny!) book, has ventured further down the road of rationality and empiricism, allowing us a guided tour on the never-ending quest to truly understand the nature of life in this brilliant universe we call home.

If we wish to draw philosophical conclusions about our own existence, our significance, and the significance of the universe itself, our conclusions should be based on empirical knowledge. A truly open mind means forcing our imaginations to conform to the evidence of reality and not vice versa, whether or not we like the implications.

"Review" by , “In A Universe from Nothing, Lawrence Krauss has written a thrilling introduction to the current state of cosmology — the branch of science that tells us about the deep past and deeper future of everything. As it turns out, everything has a lot to do with nothing — and nothing to do with God. This is a brilliant and disarming book.”
"Review" by , "Astronomers at the beginning of the twentieth century were wondering whether there was anything beyond our Milky Way Galaxy. As Lawrence Krauss lucidly explains, astronomers living two trillion years from now, will perhaps be pondering precisely the same question! Beautifully navigating through deep intellectual waters, Krauss presents the most recent ideas on the nature of our cosmos, and of our place within it. A fascinating read."
"Review" by , "In this clear and crisply written book, Lawrence Krauss outlines the compelling evidence that our complex cosmos has evolved from a hot, dense state and how this progress has emboldened theorists to develop fascinating speculations about how things really began."
"Review" by , “A series of brilliant insights and astonishing discoveries have rocked the Universe in recent years, and Lawrence Krauss has been in the thick of it. With his characteristic verve, and using many clever devices, he’s made that remarkable story remarkably accessible. The climax is a bold scientific answer to the great question of existence: Why is there something rather than nothing.”
"Review" by , "With characteristic wit, eloquence and clarity Lawrence Krauss gives a wonderfully illuminating account of how science deals with one of the biggest questions of all: how the universe's existence could arise from nothing. It is a question that philosophy and theology get themselves into muddle over, but that science can offer real answers to, as Krauss's lucid explanation shows. Here is the triumph of physics over metaphysics, reason and enquiry over obfuscation and myth, made plain for all to see: Krauss gives us a treat as well as an education in fascinating style."
"Review" by , "We have been living through a revolution in cosmology as wondrous as that initiated by Copernicus. Here is the essential, engrossing and brilliant guide."
"Review" by , “Nothing is not nothing. Nothing is something. That's how a cosmos can be spawned from the void — a profound idea conveyed in A Universe From Nothing that unsettles some yet enlightens others. Meanwhile, it's just another day on the job for physicist Lawrence Krauss.”
"Synopsis" by , “WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE IT? WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING? AND FINALLY, WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? ”

One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss's characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved — and the implications for how its going to end.

Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.

"Synopsis" by , “WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE IT? WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING? AND FINALLY, WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? ”

One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krausss characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how its going to end.

Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.

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