Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Universe from Nothing, By Lawrence Krauss

"Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could."
-- The Sound of Music.

     I hate The Sound of Music.  It's the most smarmy, sappy, namby-pambly P.O.S. ever.  Thus, when I heard that Prof. Krauss had overthrown this thesis from the musical, I was elated.  I immediately ordered his book from Amazon.  I've always been confusesd about this issue.  If we think of space and time with nothing in it as nothing, then we have a problem, because I have to imagine galaxies popping into exisence as something coming from nothing.  If I think of the existence of space and time itself as part of the 'something' that is in the universe, then I get confused about what I'm thinking about.  I should be not thinking about anything.  I'm not sure I know how to think about 'nothing' per say.  Nor do I know what it means to say that  something 'comes' from nothing since 'comes' here seems to imply time itself.  If time is part what is 'coming' about, I get confused.

     I also don't know what 'potential' means without time of some kind.  When I think of something as potential, I think of something that could happen in the future.  But what does 'potential time' mean if there is no time?  My imagination can't go there.  So, I look forward to Krauss's examination of this issue. 

While we can trace back time to the beginning of the universe,  I don't know nor can I imagine where we go from there.  What is a 'potential' law if there is no time?  What is 'potential' space?  Krauss raises a good point when he asks what philosophers mean by nothing.  I mean, absolutely NOTHING! Nothing at all.  Can anything be meant by this kind of philosophical nothing?  Is it outside of language?  I sometimes think that the 'null solution' is the most elegant and thus the most likely, but how do I assign probabilities or think of things as a 'solution' if there is nothing. Evidently there is something, so could there ever have been 'nothing' in this sense?  Well, I guess at the outset I'm giving Krauss his point that 'nothing' or 'nonbeing' in this sense is kind of incoherent.  So how can it be a problem we have to solve?  In fact, my feeling for the problem is beginning to dissipate.

2 comments:

  1. Is there a rule that says one thing always has to 'come' from something else, or that there was ever a time/nontime of nothingness? Maybe positing that there IS such a 'thing' as 'nothing' is the big fallacy.

    Not that _I_ am qualified to theorize, of course, only having a degree in Big Mouth.

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  2. Thank you for the comment. Krauss says that when he debates people about the 'Universe from Nothing' philosophers don't think he is really talking about nothing. Krauss says that 'nothing' is not something that is scientifically definable. Krauss thinks that current physical theory allows for the creation of something from nothing by using the Uncertainty Principle, which allows particles to just pop into existence. I am beginning to side with Krauss and friends that a theory that can explain a universe popping into existence from nothing is sufficienty for scientific purposes -- assuming that there was indeed at time before which there was nothing. He further, and importantly, believes that gravity should count as 'negative' energy and if you add up the energy contained in matter and subtracted the energy of gravity you end up with nothing. So, in this sense the universe adds up to zero.

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