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← 'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009 - Comments

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat

No, the science doesn't say the universe came 'from nothing'. Nothing is the complete absence of anything at all, including the laws of quantum mechanics. There is no theory of how the universe arises from absolutely nothing. I do wish people would stop this 'nothing' nonsense when it quite simply isn't true that they have such a theory.

A theory of creation from absolutely nothing is quite possibly a logical impossibility........as absolute nothingness excludes any reason for anything to happen at all.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 10:19:51 UTC | #850372

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 2 by Michael Gray

Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat :

... as absolute nothingness excludes any reason for anything to happen at all.

How do you know that?
You sound confident enough.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 10:53:00 UTC | #850376

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 2 by Michael Gray

How do you know that?

Simple logic. If absolute nothing can turn into something, then it can't have been absolute nothing as the total absence of anything at all would mean the total absense of any reason for nothing to turn into something.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 10:59:07 UTC | #850378

Martin_C's Avatar Comment 4 by Martin_C

Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat :

No, the science doesn't say the universe came 'from nothing'. Nothing is the complete absence of anything at all, including the laws of quantum mechanics. There is no theory of how the universe arises from absolutely nothing. I do wish people would stop this 'nothing' nonsense when it quite simply isn't true that they have such a theory. A theory of creation from absolutely nothing is quite possibly a logical impossibility........as absolute nothingness excludes any reason for anything to happen at all.

The nothing talked about in the video is nothing as in a vacuum, meaning an area of space-time containing no atoms. It is in this condition of 'no - thing' being there that matter can spontaneously leap into existence where there was none before but only for a very short time. PERHAPS this tells us something about the beginning of our universe. Again, we DON'T KNOW how the universe we know 'began'.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:10:34 UTC | #850383

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 5 by bendigeidfran

I can make a universe from less than nothing. Beat that, God.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:16:31 UTC | #850385

Martin_C's Avatar Comment 6 by Martin_C

Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Comment 2 by Michael Gray

How do you know that?

Simple logic. If absolute nothing can turn into something, then it can't have been absolute nothing as the total absence of anything at all would mean the total absense of any reason for nothing to turn into something.

I think you are talking way beyond the limits of even the most knowledgeable physicists. There is no place in the universe where this kind of 'nothing' (absence of space-time) exists for you to have any experience of it. Which in itself sounds absurd because my little primate brain says "How can nothing exist if it's nothing? Don't you have to be something to exist?" Again, how about an "I don't know"?

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:17:58 UTC | #850386

Daniel O'Malley's Avatar Comment 7 by Daniel O'Malley

What do you people think about Victor Stenger's notion that the question "Why is there Something rather than Nothing?" is flawed and carries the assumption that nothing is more "natural" (whatever that is) and we should ask "Why should there be nothing rather than something?"

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:24:20 UTC | #850388

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 8 by Anaximander

If absolute nothing can turn into something, then it can't have been absolute nothing as the total absence of anything at all would mean the total absense of any reason for nothing to turn into something.

How much of what we do, we do because there is some reason to do that?

Anyway, if there was no reason for the universe to become into existence, there was no reason for it not to become into existence.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:27:46 UTC | #850389

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 9 by Anaximander

What do people you think about Victor Stenger's notion that the question "Why is there Something rather than Nothing?" is flawed and carries the assumption that nothing is more "natural" (whatever that is) and we should ask "Why should there be nothing rather than something?"

Nothing is more natural than to think that nothing is more natural.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:30:04 UTC | #850391

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 10 by God fearing Atheist

The video is very interesting, but why the repeat posting?

Click on the RDF Productions on the horizontal menu bar under the banner, then AAI 2009 conference (10th row), and its linked on 2nd row, 1st column. There has also been an discussion (like this) before.

Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Comment 2 by Michael Gray

How do you know that?

Simple logic. If absolute nothing can turn into something, then it can't have been absolute nothing as the total absence of anything at all would mean the total absense of any reason for nothing to turn into something.

That philosophical mindwank. Its the drivel left over from a pre-scientific era when philosophers tried to do though experiments using the results from the LHC hundreds of years before it was even built. Philosophers trying to do doing metaphysics, i.e. the physics of physics, or ontology, classifying all there is, is a complete joke when done by ignoramuses who didn't even know what an electron is.

Philosophical nothing is a concept pulled out of a scientifically ignorant philosophers arse. There is a branch of philosophy that was called natural philosophy that is now called science. It now does the physics of physics, and classifies all of reality. It's rather good at it. It produces computer chips, and the LHC. If physicists have a definition of the word nothing then that is the only sensible natural philosophical definition to use. But, as Lawrence Krauss keeps saying, the definitions are actually maths, so the word nothing will only ever be used to construct common language stories and analogies to explain physics to lay audiences.

Only people like William Lang Craig think the 500 BC version of the word "nothing" is still useful.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:32:38 UTC | #850393

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 11 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 4 by Martin_C

The nothing talked about in the video is nothing as in a vacuum, meaning an area of space-time containing no atoms.

Which most certainly isn't 'nothing'.....as it contains space and time and vacuum fluctuations, and the laws of physics, etc. Sure I realise what the video is talking about, but my point is that for the average person who doesn't.....the language of 'creation from nothing' is misleading. It implies that everything simply pops into existence, uncaused by any mechanism, from absolutely nowhere. It's hardly surprising that people then say 'I don't believe the universe was created from nothing'. In that context....they are totally correct to express such disbelief.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:35:08 UTC | #850395

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 12 by Peter Grant

@Schrodinger's Cat

Nothing is self-caused, but nothing is also unstable. It makes sense to me.

Nothing is an abstract concept, a bit like infinity. Neither can be proven to exist beyond all doubt, but they are still useful as concepts. When you have what seems to be nothingness there are no apparent reasons left to expect logic to effectively describe its behaviour.

Still downloading the video...

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:39:32 UTC | #850396

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 13 by bendigeidfran

Comment 7 by Daniel O'Malley

I think the 'rather than' is incorrect. We have nothing as well.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 11:42:31 UTC | #850397

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 14 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 12 by Peter Grant

Nothing is an abstract concept, a bit like infinity. Neither can be proven to exist beyond all doubt, but they are still useful as concepts. When you have what seems to be nothingness there are no apparent reasons left to expect logic to effectively describe its behaviour.

I'm not really concerned so much about arguments for 'creation ex nihilo'......it's the presentation of the science and the language used that concerns me.

The point being that many a time you'll hear a believer state ' science agrees that the universe was created from nothing '.......which of course leaves room for God to have done the 'ex nihilo' bit. That believer fallacy arises solely because of the language used. Such language plays right into the hands of believers. There's nothing they like more than the universe being created 'from nothing'.

The universe clearly wasn't created from absolutely nothing. Scientists should stop implying so by using shoddy language. If the universe began with a vacuum fluctuation, then scientists should say ' the universe began with a vacuum fluctuation '...which isn't 'nothing'.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 12:17:41 UTC | #850404

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 15 by aquilacane

Not entirely sure if the concept of nothingness is even plausible. Why is there this silly assumption of nothing prior to something?

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 13:25:30 UTC | #850412

Vitalic's Avatar Comment 16 by Vitalic

Not entirely sure if the concept of nothingness is even plausible. Why is there this silly assumption of nothing prior to something?

Because everything that exists must have a cause and therefore if you go back far enough something must have initiated a "first cause". I'm not sure if it's even a logical presupposition but I suspect that is how a creationist would respond to the question. Basically a creationist is saying that nothing can be eternal (apart from God obviously, because God can inexplicably terminate the infinite regress), as Carl Sagan suggested why not just cut out the extra step and say the universe itself is eternal.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 14:40:06 UTC | #850424

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 17 by Peter Grant

"So forget Jesus, stars died so that you could be here today."

APPLAUSE! :D

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 14:51:03 UTC | #850427

Tim VI's Avatar Comment 18 by Tim VI

Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat :

No, the science doesn't say the universe came 'from nothing'. Nothing is the complete absence of anything at all, including the laws of quantum mechanics. There is no theory of how the universe arises from absolutely nothing. I do wish people would stop this 'nothing' nonsense when it quite simply isn't true that they have such a theory.

A theory of creation from absolutely nothing is quite possibly a logical impossibility........as absolute nothingness excludes any reason for anything to happen at all.

My very amateur take on Krauss' explanation of the Universe derived from nothing is that: There is no requirement for there to be any pre-existing energy for the Universe to begin. So nothing, in this sense, would be no-energy. Energy from zero energy.

But that of course, is just one possible scenario, and not definitely the true one.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 15:00:13 UTC | #850429

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 19 by Marc Country

That philosophical mindwank.

Well put. Pedantic semantics, I'd call it.

If you can understand the concept of 'zero' as representing 'nothing', then you can understand that you can get 'nothing' from combining equal amounts of positive 'something' and negative 'something'.

It therefore stands that you can get equal amounts of positive and negative 'something' out of 'nothing'. Seems perfectly intuitive to me.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 15:03:51 UTC | #850432

BaltimoreOriole's Avatar Comment 20 by BaltimoreOriole

The "nothing" which physicists talk about may not be "nothingy" enough for some theists, but it doesn't "contain" the laws of physics. The laws of physics are simply our descriptions of observed patterns of occurrences; they are not really "laws" which anything "obeys".

Imagine that we observed that our neighbour left his house at 7 am every day. We might construct a "law" for our neighbour which described this behaviour. On observing that the behaviour did not occur at weekends, we might so modify this law. It might then be a useful shorthand to speak of him "obeying" this law, but in fact his house "contains" no such law, nor in fact does he "obey" any such law. This law is our own construct, useful in helping us make real-world predictions, but not having any existence "out there". The "law" is actually found only in our own minds.

As for the "ex nihilo" nothingness which some theists crave, as Stenger points out, there is zero reason to think that there ever was or ever will be such nothingness. We can't create such nothingness, have no evidence of it, nor do we have a theory which predicts its past, presence or future "existence". We don't even know what it would MEAN for there to be such "nothingness". If "something" came from "nothing", then "nothing" would have the PROPERTY of transmutability into "something". But if "nothing" has at least this one property, then how can we describe it as "nothing" in the "ex nihilo" sense?

And why do obscurantists thing that concepts ("ex nihilo") become more profound if they are expressed in Latin? (German or French will sometimes do in a pinch.) My own theory is that they have mathematics envy. They resent those show-offy physicists who look so darned smart when they write their fancy equations, so they want to show gosh-darn-it that they can show off too, in their own way.

Anyway, as far as I can see, the only people who think that something can come from ex-nihilo nothingness are theists, who apparently think that God can pull off this trick. Atheists clearly are not committed to this belief, and I frankly don't even really understand what people are talking about when they say they believe this.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 15:19:47 UTC | #850435

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 21 by -TheCodeCrack-

It's the old: +1 -1 = 0

Something, and it's exact opposite, equate to nothing.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 15:53:48 UTC | #850441

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 22 by Peter Grant

I like the flat universe model, it's elegant and the evidence supports it. Zero total energy.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 16:08:11 UTC | #850443

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 23 by bendigeidfran

Comment 20 by baltimore jack

I thought the nothing contained a dislike of pork.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 16:28:20 UTC | #850449

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 24 by bendigeidfran

Comment 21 by -TheCodeCrack-

Aha, I see how it was done. +dislikeofpork -dislikeofpork = 0. Wonder what else was in notthere.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 16:42:21 UTC | #850454

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 25 by Peter Grant

Comment 23 by bendigeidfran

I thought the nothing contained a dislike of pork.

Possibly, but it only exists briefly between pork and anti-pork pairs before they mutually annihilate :D

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 16:48:45 UTC | #850457

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 26 by keyfeatures

Nothing and Everything are interdependent. It's just our human subjective narrative of birth-life-death that makes it tricky for us to see this is so.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 17:31:19 UTC | #850463

cha99kep's Avatar Comment 27 by cha99kep

Time and space were non-existent when Krauss was talking about nothing, time and space are the things we talk about when we talk about something. Quantum mechanical phenomena are the weird happenings that occur at the boundary of our known universe and nothingness.

So to some degree even though we are not able to fully understand yet, a quantum fluctuation is something that happens in a 'place' (not space) where there is nothing (no time and space) and creates nothing, (as Krauss says, the negative gravitational energy balances out the positive energy of matter ) the total energy for the universe is nothing.

The universe splits the zero energy into positive and negative energy and uses that to produce time and space, the Universe. Also, the total angular momentum of the Universe is zero from microwave background results and there is no evidence that the Universe posses any overall net electric charge.

The Universe owes nothing, as come from nothing, and will go back to nothing. Which from my perspective is the only logical explanation of where something comes from, something either exists or starts to exists.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 17:34:34 UTC | #850465

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 28 by Alex, adv. diab.

My take on this is that all talk about "was there nothing, nor nothingness which begat somethingness, or was there some non-nothingness... blablabla" is completely meaningless. Most of you in this thread are producing white noise.

I doubt anyone here can define clearly what any of this would mean in the context of physics, and even if you did manage that, it would surely be firmly outside of what can currently be tested by observations. There may be hypothetical mathematical models of what happens when going back in time, which may, with the objects it describes, say something about this question.

I think Krauss does something else here, namely shooting down part of the opposite argument: Theists simply don't get to say anymore that the energy we observe now in the universe according to the Big Bang theory, came from nothing, which is illogical, and therefore God. And why? Because the hypothesis that there is no net energy at all in the universe is well compatible with theory and observations.

Krauss does not really have to claim in detail what science says about absolute nothingness etc (science may simply remain silent about it as long as it has no handle on understanding it), it is enough for him to dismantle the opposite side's unscientific argument by showing that its premises are already false.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 18:08:31 UTC | #850473

Graxan's Avatar Comment 29 by Graxan

I think part of the point of this lecture is to enlighten in opposition to Fred Hoyle's steady state theory which was popularised through much of the 20th century. Don't forget that the Big Bang was a pejoretive term coined to discredit other theories. Krauss neatly sums up current observations which are in support of the accelerating expansion of the universe. MOST people are not aware of the current understanding of the observed nature of the universe in which we live. It amazed me how many people, having watched the recent BBC series by Brian Cox, were astounded by what they were being told (depressing as some of it can sound). Much of this has been known for decades. We need more of this type of 'This is what we currently know' for everyone to hear. A bit like software patches and service packs for people's brains :)

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 19:10:12 UTC | #850501

Gordon Mcilreavy's Avatar Comment 30 by Gordon Mcilreavy

When he says a billion which billion is he talking about i understand the american billion is a thousand million and the european billion is a million million ?

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 19:33:43 UTC | #850513