Lawrence Krauss’s latest, A Universe From Nothing, is an intriguing layman’s introduction to cosmology as a tool for understanding the universe. Krauss takes us through the science behind the age of the universe and its properties among other things, ultimately declaring that ‘nothing’ is never really nothing, even in the vacuum of space. The book takes us back to the very beginning and ends with a look towards the future, with both philosophic and religious connotations.
The book does get technical sometimes, and I found myself rereading some explanations of concepts and ideas. What Krauss does, thankfully, is repeat concepts throughout the book, since there are several concepts that are introduced and developed that are spread throughout the work, which would have had me flipping back and forth otherwise had he not been appreciative of his audience.
The thing I found myself doing on a couple of occasions, and what I think is what makes this book effective, is Googling various ideas, concepts and technologies to further understand their and applications in everyday life, picking up where the author leaves off. At one point I was reading Krauss’s explanation of virtual particles and saw similarities to how the Higgs particle was defined, and found out that the Higgs is one of many virtual particles that exist. Virtual particles are something that’s hard to wrap your head around, but the author breaks it down well enough for the reader to grasp the basics of it. It’s pretty crazy stuff, actually, and left me feeling a bit smarter afterwards.
There was also a sentence or two written about superconductivity which, when he revealed meant that some materials can conduct electricity without any resistance when cooled to ridiculously low temperatures, got me researching this property as a viable, efficient energy source. Turns out superconductivity already being applied in several ways (but that’s to be explored in another post), and my inner nerd was excited at the possibilities of this phenomena as we find new ways to harness it in the future. The fact that it only took two sentences to get me scrambling to learn more speaks to the effectiveness of Krauss as both a writer and educator.
While Krauss explains many of these ideas in the YouTube video this book is based on, I invite you to give this a read and take out your highlighter. The only thing I hated was the book cover (if the sciences lack anything, it’s good marketing). So I changed it from this:
Buy the book on Amazon here.