Apparently, Krauss is walking-back the nonsense bit of "shock advertising" that he used to sell his book. On the other hand, after being shown repeatedly to be an intellectual buffoon on the subject, he doesn't get any credit for admitting the obvious.
Science Writer John Horgan writes about Lawrence Krauss's claim that everything came from nothing - and then interacts with Krauss in the comment section:
I’m nonetheless going out on a limb and guessing that science will never, ever answer what I call “The Question”: Why is there something rather than nothing? You might think this prediction is safe to the point of triviality, but certain prominent scientists are claiming not merely that they can answer The Question but that they have already done so. Physicist Lawrence Krauss peddles this message in his new book A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (Free Press, 2012).
Krauss’s answer is nothing new. Decades ago, physicists such as the legendary John Wheeler proposed that, according to the probabilistic dictates of quantum field theory, even an apparently perfect vacuum seethes with particles and antiparticles popping into and out of existence. In 1990, the Russian physicist Andrei Linde assured me that our entire cosmos—as well as an infinite number of other universes—might have sprung from a primordial “quantum fluctuation.”
I took this notion—and I think Linde presented it—as a bit of mind-titillating whimsy. But Krauss asks us to take the quantum theory of creation seriously, and so does evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. “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,” Dawkins writes in an afterword to Krauss’s book. “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.”
Whaaaa…??!! Dawkins is comparing the most enduringly profound scientific treatise in history to a pop-science book that recycles a bunch of stale ideas from physics and cosmology. This absurd hyperbole says less about the merits of Krauss’s derivative book than it does about the judgment-impairing intensity of Dawkins’s hatred of religion.
Philosopher David Albert, a specialist in quantum theory, offers a more balanced assessment of Krauss’s book in The New York Times Book Review. And by balanced assessment, I mean merciless smack down. Albert asks, “Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from?” Modern quantum field theories, Albert points out, “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.”
Krauss and Horgan "get it into it" in the comments:
2. lawkrauss 9:38 am 04/23/2012
Thank you Caleb.. I must say that this kind of silly piece from an author who also “went out on a limb” 20 years ago to say physics was over is rather telling… it is just about as cogent.. and demonstrates more an unwillingness to seriously consider the ideas I and others have raised than a desire to create some interest in his blog..
Link to this
3. jhorgan 10:43 am 04/23/2012
Caleb and Lawrence, thanks for your comments. Larry, I’ll always be grateful to you for helping bring me up to speed on modern cosmology a dozen years ago when I was researching an article for Scientific American. And what’s disappointing is that, apart from the discovery of the acceleration of the cosmic expansion, which was certainly a big surprise, nothing has really changed since then. You and/or your popularizing colleagues–Hawking, Greene, Kaku, Susskind–are still marketing various unsubstantiated versions of inflation, multiverse theories, string theory, vacuum energy, anthropic principle, etc. What’s ironic is that, although you don’t have any more evidence for these speculations, your marketing of them has become more aggressive, a trend that I predicted in The End of Science. Even Caleb implicitly acknowledges that your book’s title oversells its actual content, and yet you accuse ME of hype. Come on Larry, face it, physics, at least in its grandest mode, is in big trouble.(emphasis added.)
Which prompts a walk-back from Krauss:
6. lawkrauss 11:09 am 04/23/2012
John.. first, I didn’t make any definitive claims.. and I get offended when people claim I make such.. second I tried to indicate how much has changed in the last 22 years.. that is the purpose of the book.. things are dramatically different than they were then, and I went through a very careful analysis to describe these changes….. the analysis of fluctuations in the CMB, the discovery that the universe is flat.. these are REAL empirical discoveries that both impact upon and add credence to many of our ideas..
Link to this
7. jhorgan 5:37 pm 04/23/2012
Larry, so you’re saying that you’re not claiming to have answered the question posed by your book’s title? You’re just tossing some ideas around, and you don’t expect anyone to take them too seriously? OK, that’s a useful clarification. It also means that things have not progressed in the last 22 years, in spite of what you just asserted. I think you better tell Dawkins, before he embarrasses himself further.(emphasis added.)
At which point, Krauss apparently takes a powder and doesn't respond.
Complaining about unfairness when he's taken at his word seems to be part of Krauss's ouvre.