Internet | Music + Technology | Social Science | Culture | Arts | Humanities

Currently Reading:

Any opinions expressed by me on this site are my own opinions, not those of my employer.

How did we get here from nothing? There had to be something right?

In a New York Times book review of Lawrence Krauss’ recent best-seller, A Universe From Nothing, David Albert, a quantum physicist and professor of the philosophy of science at Columbia and the author of Quantum Mechanics and Experience, was, let’s say, unsparing about Krauss’ claim that he had proven how the universe came into being from nothing—well, from Krauss’ definition of nothing, which as we shall see redefines nothing so that it is not nothing at all.

Albert asks:

Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from? Krauss is more or less upfront, as it turns out, about not having a clue about that. He acknowledges (albeit in a parenthesis, and just a few pages before the end of the book) that everything he has been talking about simply takes the basic principles of quantum mechanics for granted.

And as the quantum vacuum—and its fields—that Krauss claims is the nothing from which something emerged, Albert points out that the laws Krauss relies on have “nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.

Elsewhere Albert summarizes his objections by calling Krauss "dead wrong" about this fundamental assumption of his that the laws of quantum physics have anything to say about their own origin—how they materialized from nothing, thus how something came from nothing.

Wow. Not surprisingly this brutal putdown caused a big bang in the world of cosmologists. Staying classy in an interview in the Atlantic, Krauss called Albert “a moronic philosopher” (despite Albert’s doctorate in—and book about—quantum mechanics).

In another attack, he denied the very idea that philosophers had any right to critique him, arguing that “philosophy hasn’t progressed in 2000 years” and that historians of science have nothing to say. (There’s a nothing for you.)



Frank Ocean is everywhere

Patton Oswalt: A message to the gatekeepers in broadcast and cable