- Very roughly, there are two different kinds of questions lurking around the issue of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" One question is, within some framework of physical laws that is flexible enough to allow for the possible existence of either "stuff" or "no stuff" (where "stuff" might include space and time itself), why does the actual manifestation of reality seem to feature all this stuff? The other is, why do we have this particular framework of physical law, or even something called "physical law" at all? Lawrence [Krauss] (again, roughly) addresses the first question, and David [Albert] cares about the second, and both sides expend a lot of energy insisting that their question is the "right" one rather than just admitting they are different questions.
- 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. "I have no idea if this notion can be usefully dispensed with," he writes, "or at least I don’t know of any productive work in this regard." And what if he did know of some productive work in that regard? What if he were in a position to announce, for instance, that the truth of the quantum-mechanical laws can be traced back to the fact that the world has some other, deeper property X? Wouldn’t we still be in a position to ask why X rather than Y? And is there a last such question? Is there some point at which the possibility of asking any further such questions somehow definitively comes to an end? How would that work? What would that be like?
- Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, "Why is there something rather than nothing?," shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If "On the Origin of Species" was biology’s deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see "A Universe From Nothing" as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says. And what it says is devastating.
2) En iögonfallande illustration till hans dubbla förhållningssätt är hur han i The Atlantic-intervjun dels tillåter sig att docera om att "If you're writing for the public, the one thing you can't do is overstate your claim, because people are going to believe you. They see I'm a physicist and so if I say that protons are little pink elephants, people might believe me. And so I try to be very careful and responsible", samtidigt som han i en annan passage i samma intervju, då han blir en smula pressad om något han påstått, faller tillbaka på "Well, yeah, I mean, look I was being provocative, as I tend to do every now and then in order to get people's attention.".
3) Krauss agerande här är i viss mån förståeligt (men likväl klandervärt). Hur hade jag själv reagerat om, låt oss säga, jag skickat ett utkast av Riktig vetenskap och dåliga imitationer till Dawkins i hopp om ett efterord, och om han, mot all förmodan, tackat ja till uppdraget och utnämnt mig till vår tids Bertrand Russell, eller hävdat att jag gjort de viktigaste matematiska framstegen sedan differentialkalkylens införande, eller något liknande absurt? Förhoppningsvis hade jag avvisat honom, men säker kan jag inte vara så länge jag inte råkat ut för situationen ifråga.