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Laws of physics can’t be got from nothing, says Krauss’s reviewer

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In “Trying to make the cosmos out of nothing” (New Scientist, 11 January 2012), Michael Brooks has a look at Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe From Nothing: Why there is something rather than nothing:

Yet despite its clear strengths, A Universe From Nothing is not quite, as Richard Dawkins hopefully declares in the afterword, a “knockout blow” for the idea that a deity must have kicked the universe into being.

Krauss does want to deliver that blow: towards the end of the book, he promises that we really can have something from nothing – “even the laws of physics may not be necessary or required”. Ultimately, though, he has to perform a little sleight of hand. Space and time can indeed come from nothing; nothing, as Krauss explains beautifully, being an extremely unstable state from which the production of “something” is pretty much inevitable.

However, the laws of physics can’t be conjured from nothing. In the end, the best answer is that they arise from our existence within a multiverse, where all the universes have their own laws – ours being just so for no particular reason.

Krauss contends that the multiverse makes the question of what determined our laws of nature “less significant”. Truthfully, it just puts the question beyond science – for now, at least.

One suspects that the question will be “beyond science” if any answers that threaten multiverse cosmology arise, but forever slipping just inside science for a short while – any time someone comes up with an enticing new fantasy.

See also: New Scientist editors admit: Recent research has shot no-big bang cosmology “full of holes

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