Lawrence Krauss Explains How You Get ‘A Universe From Nothing’

In 2009, Richard Dawkins invited Lawrence Krauss, an internationally-known theoretical physicist and author of The Physics of Star Trek, to talk about some big enchilada questions. What is our current picture of the universe? When did the universe begin? What came before it? How could something come from nothing? And what will happen to the universe in the future?

Krauss takes us back to the foundational work of Einstein and Hubble, then moves us through important breakthroughs in modern theoretical physics, ones that have helped us unravel some of these big questions. Give Professor Krauss 53 minutes, and he’ll give you the universe … and a few jokes along the way.

This talk appears in our collection of 125 Great Science Videos. And you can download many free Physics courses from our big collection of Free Online Courses.

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  • Thanks, Dan. We also just interviewed Prof Krauss down in Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) where he’s been visiting the University of Melbourne. The episode is entitled “Lawrence M. Krauss: Before and After the Universe”, a part of the Up Close podcast series. It can be found here:

    Similar material, but in an interview over about 35 minutes.

  • I want to applaud this website as the finest curator of free compelling information. You really do a terrific job and I am enjoying this lecture though it is worth pointing out that his assumptions are based on information that doesn’t travel faster than light which is may not be the case with those awkward neutrinos recently. Other than that it’s still one of the best explanations for something from nothing though it’s clear language is being used in a confirmation bias sense and I suspect that the idea of something and nothing being the only two states is an old paradigm of conciousness. Good timing though as I’ve been talking about this earlier.

  • khaled says:

    it is very good

  • william kline says:

    I have a few ideas that might be interesting but i do not have the math background, nor the education. Sadly when i went to school they did not let kids go at their own pace and interests. So they turned me away from my interests in math and science. Now i am too old to start school over and learn the specifics of what intrigues me. Any way my writing you in to find help in solving a couple things that i have yet to hear on tv. I watch all the science channels to the consternation of the people i live with. I would like to ask if you have any students that would be interested in playing a game of 20 questions based on string theory, black holes, multi-dimentions, and other things that i have yet to see on any of the science channels. I have read many bios on the physicists and do not know who to contact or who would be willing to work with me on this. I have talked with many aquaintantances and they find that my ideas are very interesting but they lack the intelligence to see my ideas through.if you can help in any way i would appreciate it.
    Sadly i am a 9th grade drop out with an iq of 143. They did not have the freedom in school to help children who were highly intelligent but extremely bored with the structure of school. But i have some ideas that i believe could lead to a different view of the cosmos. I feel that they get so close to the answers then fall short. If they could just jump a few more hurdles they would get it. Any way if you can help or if you can get a student to help i would greatly appreciate it, any help or leads would be so greatfull. Thank you.

  • Kunal says:

    Iam jst a boy of 12th standard ,from 11th clas i begin 2 read more on theoritical physics .and . . .I truly appreciate ur lecture . . . .ur explanations are some how similar with Richard P.feynman . . .which i enjoyed the most . . . .truly commendable. . .

  • ashutosh kumar pathak says:

    I want know more about universe.

  • Seems its been taken down already..

  • Epicurus says:

    the professor’s explanation of the universe coming from nothing is “quantum fluctuation”
    a quantum fluctuation is a temporary change in energy,
    so, where did these quantum fluctuation occur if no universe existed?
    also, where did the energy that fluctuated come from in a non exsistant universe?

    • Scott Ferguson says:

      Good point! He seems to claim the fluctuation was in a “field of potentiality” then of course that is not “nothing”

  • Epicurus says:

    the ‘big bang’ exponents have a problem with time. time,we are told, began with the universe. Now, the arrow of time is not a passive observer of change. it is THE mechanism for change. you cant go from state A to state B without the mechanism of time
    likewise,you cant go from the state of no universe to the state of universe without the mechanism of time. No time no change.
    Therefore the universe could not have arisen form nothing in the absence of time.

  • Albert Hollander says:

    I wish to state that I concur with Epicurus (above)argument and the problem it creates to the universe from nothing theory. In other words, laws of physics could not exist in the nothing state as they apply only to existing measurable entities. Time and its manifestation as change is a physical law (poorly understood).

  • Joao Carlos Holland Barcellos says:

    The Jocaxian Nothingness can explains why the universe came from nothing:

  • Since everything in the universe requires a cause, must not the universe itself have a cause, which is God?

    There are two basic fallacies in this argument. The first is the assumption that, if the universe required a causal explanation, the positing of a “God” would provide it. To posit God as the creator of the universe is only to push the problem back one step farther: Who then created God? Was there a still earlier God who created the God in question? We are thus led to an infinite regress–the very dilemma that the positing of a “God” was intended to solve. But if it is argued that no one created God, that God does not require a cause, that God has existed eternally–then on what grounds is it denied that the universe has existed eternally?

    It is true that there cannot be an infinite series of antecedent causes. But recognition of this fact should lead one to reappraise the validity of the initial question, not to attempt to answer it by stepping outside the universe into some gratuitously invented supernatural dimension.

    This leads to the second and more fundamental fallacy in this argument: the assumption that the universe as a whole requires a causal explanation. It does not. The universe is the total of that which exists. Within the universe, the emergence of new entities can be explained in terms of the actions of entities that already exist: the cause of a tree is the seed of the parent tree; the cause of a machine is the purposeful reshaping of matter by men. All actions presuppose the existence of entities–and all emergences of new entities presuppose the existence of entities that caused their emergence. All causality presupposes the existence of something that acts as a cause. To demand a cause for all of existence is to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of existence; if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Nothing cannot be the cause of something. Nothing does not exist. Causality presupposes existence, existence does not presuppose causality: there can be no cause “outside” of existence or “anterior” to it. The forms of existence may change and evolve, but the fact of existence is the irreducible primary at the base of all causal chains. Existence–not “God”–is the First Cause.

    Just as the concept of causality applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole–so the concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole. The universe did not “begin”–it did not, at some point in time, “spring into being.” Time is a measurement of motion. Motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing existed, there could be no time. Time is “in” the universe; the universe is not “in” time.

    The man who asks: “Where did existence come from?” or: “What caused it?”–is the man who has never grasped that existence exists. This is the mentality of a savage or a mystic who regards existence as some sort of incomprehensible miracle–and seeks to “explain” it by reference to non-existence.

    Existence is all that exists, the non-existent does not exist; there is nothing for existence to have come out of–and nothing means nothing. If you are tempted to ask: “What’s outside the universe?”–recognize that you are asking: “What’s outside of existence?” and that the idea of “something outside of existence” is a contradiction in terms; nothing is outside of existence, and “nothing” is not just another kind of “something”–it is nothing. Existence exists; you cannot go outside it, you cannot get under it, on top of it or behind it. Existence exists–and only existence exists: there is nowhere else to go.

    The Objectivist Newsletter,

    Edited and published by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, 

    Vol 1, No 5, May 1962, page 19

    Intellectual Ammunition Department

    Article is also available at

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