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The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far: Why Are We Here?

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Internationally renowned, award-winning theoretical physicist, New York Times bestselling author of A Universe from Nothing, and passionate advocate for reason, Lawrence Krauss tells the dramatic story of the discovery of the hidden world of reality—a grand poetic vision of nature—and how we find our place within it.

In the beginning there was light.
But more than this, there was gravity.
After that, all hell broke loose…

In A Universe from Nothing, Krauss revealed how our entire universe could arise from nothing. Now, he reveals what that something—reality—is. And, reality is not what we think or sense—it’s weird, wild, and counterintuitive; it’s hidden beneath everyday experience; and its inner workings seem even stranger than the idea that something can come from nothing.

In a landmark, unprecedented work of scientific history, Krauss leads us to the furthest reaches of space and time, to scales so small they are invisible to microscopes, to the birth and rebirth of light, and into the natural forces that govern our existence. His unique blend of rigorous research and engaging storytelling invites us into the lives and minds of the remarkable, creative scientists who have helped to unravel the unexpected fabric of reality—with reason rather than superstition and dogma. Krauss has himself been an active participant in this effort, and he knows many of them well. The Greatest Story challenges us to re-envision ourselves and our place within the universe, as it appears that “God” does play dice with the universe. In the incisive style of his scintillating essays for The New Yorker, Krauss celebrates the greatest intellectual adventure ever undertaken—to understand why we are here in a universe where fact is stranger than fiction.

322 pages, Hardcover

First published March 21, 2017

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About the author

Lawrence M. Krauss

33 books1,618 followers
Prof. Lawrence M. Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He has investigated questions ranging from the nature of exploding stars to issues of the origin of all mass in the universe. He was born in New York City and moved shortly thereafter to Toronto, Canada, where he grew up. He received undergraduate degrees in both Mathematics and Physics at Carleton University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1982), then joined the Harvard Society of Fellows (1982-85). He joined the faculty of the departments of Physics and Astronomy at Yale University as assistant professor in 1985, and associate professor in 1988. In 1993 he was named the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Chairman of the department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University. He served in the latter position for 12 years, until 2005. During this period he built up the department, which was ranked among the top 20 Physics Graduate Research Programs in the country in a 2005 national ranking. Among the major new initiatives he spearheaded are included the creation of one of the top particle astrophysics experimental and theoretical programs in the US, and the creation of a groundbreaking Masters Program in Physics Entrepreneurship. In 2002, he was named Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case.

In August 2008 Krauss took up his new post as Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, and Inaugural Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University . As planned, Origins will become a national center for research and outreach on origins issues, from the origins of the universe, to human origins, to the origins of consciousness and culture. It will also form a cross-cutting educational theme at ASU. In April of 2009, it hosted an Origins Symposium, bringing together some of the most well known scientists and public intellectuals in the world for both scientific discussions and public presentations. Over 5000 people attended the events directly, and many more watched the live webcasts from around the world.

Prof. Krauss is the author of over 300 scientific publications, as well as numerous popular articles on physics and astronomy. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research and writing, including the Gravity Research Foundation First Prize Award (1984), and the Presidential Investigator Award (1986). In February 2000, in Washington D.C., Krauss was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science's 1999-2000 Award for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology . Previous awardees include Carl Sagan (1995) and E.O. Wilson (1994). In 2001 he was awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society . The citation reads "For outstanding contributions to the understanding of the early universe, and extraordinary achievement in communicating the essence of physical science to the general public". Previous awardees include Stephen W. Hawking (1999), and Kip S. Thorne (1996). In 2001 the American Institute of Physics awarded Krauss the Andrew Gemant Award , given annually to "a person who has made significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimensions of physics". Previous awardees include Freeman Dyson, Steven Weinberg, and Stephen Hawking. He was also awarded the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award in 2002 for his book "Atom".

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 334 reviews
Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
February 25, 2017
After reading this book, I feel smarter but also still incredibly stupid. I am fascinated by the study of physics and by the amazing discoveries still being made in the field, but, no matter how much I read, I still feel like I just don't really understand physics. And that's okay. I'll just keep reading, as long as patient (and passionate) scientists like Krauss continue to write books that attempt to explain the field to laypersons like myself.
Profile Image for Lew Watts.
Author 2 books30 followers
June 18, 2017
A couple of weeks ago, and shortly after starting this book, I had the benefit of hearing Lawrence Krauss expounding his thoughts at a book launch in Chicago—he speaks as well as he writes, and his explanations are full of humor and allegory. Who can resist this approach to relativity? Krauss is driving his car at (say) 30mph, with his 2 year old daughter in the backseat. Suddenly, she projectile vomits at 10 mph onto his head. The vomit is therefore traveling at 40 mph, but to an observer by the side of the road...I'll let you fill in the next sentences.
While later chapters are, perhaps, less imaginative (though much more rigorous), Krauss is able to introduce and explain some of the most astounding discoveries on the path towards the still-elusive Grand Unified Theory. I found the deeper significance of the Higgs Boson fascinating, that we exist within a scalar Higgs field that is perfectly poised to allow the presence of galaxies, stars, particles and, of course, ourselves. But Krauss goes out of his way not to attribute this to any act of "God," or that the universe "was made for us." Instead, he posits a more humble explanation, that we have evolved "in a universe whose laws exist independently of our own being." I have, however, one complaint—given Krauss' compelling (to me) secular arguments, I found the titles of his 3 major sections ("Genesis," "Exodus," and "Revelations"), and that each chapter is headed by a biblical quote, a little bit distasteful, like rubbing any religious readers' noses in it.
The book ends with a critical analysis of what is not known, of some of the uncertainties remaining, some of which are major (dark matter is one). We live in hope that new discoveries can unlock these so that we may enjoy a further edition of this wonderful book. And by the way, how many science books can claim to have been edited by Cormac McCarthy, or partly written in Christopher Hitchen's guesthouse?
Profile Image for Book.
725 reviews134 followers
April 13, 2017
The Greatest Story Ever Told – So Far: Why Are We Here? by Lawrence M. Krauss

“The Greatest Story Ever Told – So Far" tells the story of our hidden world. Award-winning theoretical physicist and iconic defender of reason, Lawrence M. Krauss takes the reader on a five hundred year journey of progressive scientific understanding of our reality. This interesting 337-page book includes twenty-three chapters broken out by the following three parts: 1. Genesis, 2. Exodus, and 3. Revelation.

1. A well-written, well-researched book.
2. A fascinating topic in the masterful hands of Lawrence M. Krauss, revealing our hidden reality. “We cannot understand that hidden world with intuitions based solely on direct sensation.”
3. Makes use of a clever analogy between the once “greatest story ever told” the Bible, to what truly is the greatest story, the one told by science. The book is broken out into three parts: Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation. Each chapter begins with a chapter-appropriate Bible verse.
4. Good use of diagrams to complement the narrative.
5. Dr. Krauss may be a great scientist but he also has flair with words. “Surely that is the greatest contribution of science to civilization: to ensure that the greatest books are not those of the past, but of the future.”
6. So is there a plan or purpose to the world we find ourselves in? Find out.
7. The value of the scientific method. “Today, Plato’s vision of “pure thought” has been replaced by the scientific method, which, based on both reason and experiment, allows us to discover the underlying realities of the world.”
8. This is also a book of the greatest scientists that ever lived. “I don’t believe in hero worship, but if I did, Faraday would be up there with the best. Perhaps more than any other scientist of the nineteenth century, he is responsible for the technology that powers our current civilization.”
9. The contributions of Maxwell. “After Maxwell, electricity and magnetism were no longer viewed as separate forces of nature. They were different manifestations of one and the same force.”
10. The great Albert Einstein. “Thus, on the surface, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity appears to make physical reality subjective and observer dependent, but relativity is in this sense a misnomer. The Theory of Relativity is instead a theory of absolutes. Space and time measurements may be subjective, but “space-time” measurements are universal and absolute. The speed of light is universal and absolute.”
11. An interesting look at light. “In fact, light also behaves like both a particle and a wave, depending on the circumstances under which you choose to measure it.”
12. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle. “The Heisenberg uncertainty principle epitomizes in many ways the complete demise of our classical worldview of nature. Independent of any technology we might someday develop, nature puts an absolute limit on our ability to know, with any degree of certainty, both the momentum and position of any particle.”
13. An interesting look at quantum electrodynamics. “The theory in which these virtual particles are incorporated, along with the electromagnetic interactions of electrons and positrons, called quantum electrodynamics, is the best scientific theory we have so far. Predictions based on the theory have been compared with observations, and they agree to more than ten decimal places. In no other area of science can this level of accuracy be obtained in the comparison between observation and prediction, based on the direct applications of fundamental principles on the most basic scales we can describe.”
14. Provocative facts of science. “The entire stability of the nuclei that make up everything we see, including most of the atoms in our body, is an accidental consequence of the fact that the neutron and proton differ in mass by only 0.1 percent, so that a small shift in the mass of the former, when embedded in nuclei, means it can no longer decay into the latter.”
15. The basis of atomic physics. “In 1925, Wolfgang Pauli proposed the “exclusion principle,” which disclosed that two electrons could not occupy exactly the same quantum state at the same time and place, and which laid the basis of all of atomic physics.”
16. Particle physics. “Over the 1950s, Gell-Mann would produce many of the most important and lasting ideas in particle physics from that time. He was one of two physicists to propose that protons and neutrons were made of more fundamental particles, which he called quarks.”
17. Superconductors. “In other words, Anderson’s nonrelativistic argument in superconductors did carry over to relativistic quantum fields. The universe could behave like a superconductor after all.”
18. Throughout the book, Dr. Krauss namedrops Nobel Prize winners and their discoveries. “But a mere year later, in October 1979, Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam, and Steven Weinberg were awarded the Nobel Prize for their electroweak theory, now validated by experiment, that unified two of the four forces of nature based on a single fundamental symmetry, gauge invariance.”
19. The importance of gauge symmetry. “And at the heart of all of the forces governing the dynamical behavior of everything we can observe is a beautiful mathematical framework called gauge symmetry. All of the known forces, strong, weak, electromagnetic, and even gravity, possess this mathematical property, and for the three former examples, it is precisely this property that ensures that the theories make mathematical sense and that nasty quantum infinities disappear from all calculations of quantities that can be compared to experiment.”
20. Discusses key characteristics of the CERN machine.
21. The Standard Model discussed.

1. No formal notes or bibliography!
2. The layperson will have difficulty following this book. There is no kind way to put it, topics like particle physics even at its most basic are very hard to follow.
3. A step down from the masterpiece that was “A Universe From Nothing”.

In summary, this is a very good though more scientifically demanding book. Even at its most basic, the layperson will struggle to follow the scientific progression that Dr. Krauss lays out. Readers with science aptitude will obtain more enjoyment from reading this excellent book than your average person. It’s not the masterpiece that “A Universe From Nothing” was but it’s a solid sequel worth reading. I recommend it!

Further recommendations: “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence M. Krauss, “Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth” by Jim Baggott, “Spectrums” by David Blatner, “The Elegant Universe” and “Hidden Reality” by Brian Greene, “About Time” by Adam Frank, “Higgs Discovery” and “Warped Passages” by Lisa Randall, “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking, “The Quantum Universe” by Brian Cox, “The Blind Spot” by William Byers, and “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning” by Victor Stenger.
Profile Image for Brian Hayes.
73 reviews1 follower
May 8, 2017
I have discovered a new super dense narrativeless substance, this book. "Unless you are a blind devotee of Krauss, you will most likely not enjoy this book. His dislike for all things not science inappropriately seeps into this science book. He bizarrely opens each chapter with biblical scripture. The title of the book is the closest thing to click bait in the literary world I have come across. I am sucker for the kind of book I thought I was buying, ultimately this book reads like a history of particle physics, and is extremely technical or badly presently in places. I would suggest that you almost need a University level education in physics to truly grasp it . Not for the average popular science lay person. Full disclosure, I did not much like Krauss before reading this book, his latest book has only strengthened my feelings. This book is not without its merits, there is a somewhat good overview of the development of ideas in physics, but ultimately it's done so with no joy, no warmth and takes needless detours into areas which he does not need to. I believe he has published some papers of merit but I think we have all jumped the shark to utter his name in the same sentence has people such a Feynman, Sagan etc. Bad Philosopher, terrible science writer, decent scientist, would be my assessment which I am no way qualified to give.
Profile Image for Charlene.
875 reviews484 followers
January 25, 2018
It doesn't matter that what Krauss wrote about in this book has been well told many times over by other authors. I will read anything he writes because he always writes from a perspective filled with immense awe. It is a particular treat to listen to him narrate his own books in audio version. He comes off as humble, generous, curious, excited, intelligent, and completely inspired. It always makes me wonder how he can be friends with Richard Dawkins. Every time I read or listen to Krauss, I feel certain Dawkins must annoy him often. They are so very different. Whenever Dawkins writes, he is a total name dropper. It's not so much that he is captivated by the work his peers have done, whenever Dawkins name drops, it seems to be with the sole purpose of confirming his affiliation with the neo-Dawninian gang,and I mean gan in the literal sense. Dawkins et al. constantly threaten progressive scientists who challenge their work. When Krauss writes of the work done by others physicists, it is clear he has a deep and genuine appreciation for what they have taught the world. When Krauss challenges the concept of a supernatural man in the sky, he does so without sarcasm or meanness. In every page, it is clear that Krauss is just so very in love with how the universe works, he cannot bear to keep it to himself and is compelled, absolutely compelled, to share The Greatest Story Ever Told with others. And even if you have heard it before, I doubt you can help falling in love right along with him.
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews136 followers
April 12, 2018
This was too smart for me. I'm throwing in the towel halfway through. I imagine this would be more enjoyable for people who don't suck at science.
Profile Image for Gendou.
574 reviews255 followers
March 19, 2018
This is a wonderful book about the history of the cosmos and of humankind's quest to discover its story, which Krauss and I agree is the greatest ever told (so far).

There's a lot of focus on particle physics, gauge symmetry, and the discovery of a theory which accurately describes the strong and weak nuclear forces.

This book is a must-read for any fan of particle physics!

I did catch Krauss in one tiny mistake. And I'm proud of it. In chapter 10 he says neutrons "... make up most of the mass of heavier nuclei and thus most of the mass in our bodies." So I crunched the numbers, and it turns out this is incorrect! http://thephysicspolice.blogspot.com/...
Profile Image for Ginger Griffin.
107 reviews4 followers
April 16, 2017
Looking to understand the ultimate nature of reality, but not into drugs? Try particle physics! And start with this book, which provides an excellent introduction to the subject. BTW, just want to say that if the Higgs field condensate transitions to a lower-energy state, well ... this universe was fun while it lasted. ;-)
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,239 reviews219 followers
February 18, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this look into the development of the Standard Model of particle physics that goes into both the history of the discoveries and what was discovered in enough detail that I was both educated and challenged. I felt the framing conceit detracted from the overall though. The bible is sometimes called "the Greatest Story Ever Told", and Krauss presents this one as both more interesting and relevant. I agree, but it comes off here as arrogant and needlessly offensive, and the frequent bible quotations begin to come across as grating once the science starts really getting underway.

All that being said, this is the most accessible and complete explanation of the Standard Model I've seen that's quite frank about what's still missing in our understanding. You probably want to be at least passingly familiar with some of these concepts before reading though: I felt the book skims over some fundamentals that the author takes for granted (relativistic theory for instance), but a good high school science education should be enough of a prerequisite.
160 reviews2 followers
June 29, 2017
I had great hopes for this book. Even at just 300 pages, however, it seemed 50 pages too long. There's some good stuff here, but if Prof. Krauss had perhaps stuck to the science instead of wandering in and out of attacks on organized religion he would have produced a much tighter book.
These attacks didn't add anything to the book - in my view - and I do remain puzzled why he included Biblical references at the intro to each chapter (plain weird considering his tone throughout the book). I will say his references back to Plato's allegory of the cave - how we grope through trying to make sense of what we see - was clever, but clever does not a great book make. I can sum up Prof Krauss' subtitle: "Why are we here?" To him, it's a total accident. There, I saved you $30! :)
Profile Image for Radiantflux.
411 reviews403 followers
July 13, 2018
72nd book for 2018.

About one-third into the book I started to dislike Krauss, by the two-thirds mark my dislike turned to a mild form of loathing. He comes across as smug and arrogant. He makes no effort to explain complex physics in a manner that would be accessible to average reader. And he peppers the book with stupid rants against religion. The title is beyond ironic.

It's just all an ugly hot mess of a book.

Profile Image for Nina.
978 reviews13 followers
May 27, 2017
So I really like science history and stuff, but so much of this was just so over my head that I had a hard time paying attention. I guess I wish it was just a bit more narrative and maybe a little faster. It was still interesting, but I wanted the more recent stuff to be a little more generally described so I could get a better big picture understanding of what we know now.
Profile Image for Jeff.
521 reviews31 followers
April 17, 2017
I've been a fan of Lawrence Krauss for years. I've heard him on podcasts and read him in Scientific American but have not read any of his books as of yet. When I heard him announce that he wrote a new book I kept an eye out for it at my local B&N so I could get on it right away.

The Greatest Story Ever Told -- So Far: Why Are We Here is primarily the story of the discovery of the building blocks of the the universe at the subatomic level which are being used to explain how the universe came about and why it behaves the way it does. The book is divided in to three chapters: Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation, and, as the name of the book suggests, the narrative is an analogy between the Bible's "greatest story" and the actual unraveling of man's understanding of the universe based on natural discoveries rather than supernatural explanations. Krauss even adds a Bible verse to the beginning of each chapter for further effect.

The book begins with an excellent prologue which really got my blood pumping and piqued my interest. The first chapter begins with the Allegory of the Cave from Plato's Republic which the reader may remember from high school or college science. Krauss refers back to the Cave Allegory throughout the book, relating it to particular discoveries. The book gradually picks up steam as we meet the greatest scientists of all time beginning with Newton and learn the details of the greatest physics discoveries of all time ending with the those of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

What I liked about the book were the stories of the numerous scientists who advanced our understanding of physics. For most scientists, Krauss fills in their background, proposals, and discoveries in an interesting and personable way. Krauss knows many of the contemporary scientists personally. He spends a lot of time discussing recent discoveries, notably the Higgs boson which result in Peter Higgs winning the Nobel Prize in 2013. And one can't help but have an increased admiration for the giants that went before Higgs such has Faraday, Fermi, Gell-Mann, Planck, and many others.

Probably my favorite part of the book was the section about the LHC, which Krauss states is the "most complicated machine humans have ever constructed". The three pages Krauss uses to list the characteristics of the LHC boggle the mind! For example: the LHC's 27 kilometer tunnel ring, located 175 meters below the pastoral Geneva countryside, utilizes 1,600 super conducting magnets, most weighing over 27 tons EACH; the alignment of the beams used for collisions are so precise that adjustments have to be made for the moon's gravity based on it's position to Geneva; and the cooling superfluid used keeps the magnets operating at a temperature less than two degrees above absolute zero, colder than the radiation background in interstellar space. I need to find a book about the incredible LHC.

The book delves deep in to complex physics subjects such as quantum theory, antimatter, electromagnetism, relativity, superconductivity, and gauge theory. My only complaint of the book would be that some of the chapters reminded me of how I felt in of my advanced college physics classes - my brain hurt trying to wrap my head around some of the concepts. Much of this is just too complicated for the average reader to grasp.

Overall, it was an interesting book and I learned a lot. The greatest story is still being written and one needs only to pay attention to the latest science news to watch it unfold.
Profile Image for Phil Livingstone.
54 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2018
Picking up this book in the airport bookshop I half expected it to be generally accessible. What I got was a thought provoking but poorly composed academic text best left on a university library shelf. Although great to get the messages of the book out there, the exposition is terrible.

I can only presume that the editors let it through as they didn’t understand it. Even the title includes “why” when the author constantly says never to use that term and ask “how”. Classic academic cash cow material. I’ve watched a YouTube video on the standard model theory since and gained more knowledge from 10min of that than half a day reading this.

As for the usual Richard Dawkins style of dismiss all other thoughts in favour of science, the book was typical. Surely any good scientist should recognise that even scientific approaches might be flawed. Evidence of massless and virtual particles for example isn’t explained.

To challenge the author’s analogy directly, this book doesn’t show how far out of the cave of shadows we have come - it shows how far we’ve dug into it.

If this had been presented as “a brief history of particle physics” then it would have got a stronger rating - that’s all it is.
147 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2017
This book is a fascinating journey through modern particle physics, with an emphasis on the strange, confounding but inspiring world sub atomic physics. Lawrence Krauss structures his book like a scriptural text or one of Homer's epic poems. His decision to begin each chapter with a quote from the Bible is surely a cheeky nod to his own atheism, noting that scientists can use the techniques of religion while discarding its certainty and dogma. The three sections of the book: Genesis, Exodus and Revelation follow a broad trajectory from Newton through Faraday, Einstein and towards modern figures like Glashau, Feynman, and Higgs.

In the Greatest Story Ever Told So Far Krauss manages a delicate balancing act. He writes eloquently and clearly but still captures the science in all its puzzling complexity. Be warned this is not an easy subject. This is not to say it is a laborious tome, just that sub-atomic physics might be the most complex branch of science, and anyone without grounding in these fields will find themselves re-reading passages in this book. Krauss writes for laypeople, but he refuses to condescend to his audience by simplifying incredibly complex material.

Many readers will be at least loosely familiar with Newton and Faraday and Einstein, but Krauss details how scientific progress is painstaking, sometimes whole branches are revealed to be false, other times neglected branches of main fields take on new urgency because of practical discoveries. And technological development enables us to discover things that were invisible to our forebears. Krauss takes readers through quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and the electroweak force, electrodynamics, supersymmetry and efforts of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to discover secrets of the strong force and dark matter. The book ends with the discovery of the Higgs Boson and speculation about the promise and peril of further discoveries at the LHC, and how what is or is not discovered may confirm elegant theories or reignite interest in other theories. Whatever happens, Krauss humurously notes, scientists will be surprised. Having one's theories backed up by evidence is every bit as surprising and unlikely as having to go back to the drawing board. And every answer, every discovery just opens up a new litany of questions and further searching.

It is an enlightening read. Normally I find scientific overviews entertaining, but the least interesting type of science book. Krauss in his professorial way makes complex science accessible by trusting in the intelligence of his audience. I was particularly fascinated by the developments in the latter 20th century. In many ways it was a golden age of physics. Glaschau, Weinberg and Feynmann transformed the field.

The more we learn, the smaller we seem in the great scheme of things. Yet the author notes that the lack of definite answers need not depress us. Knowledge of our ignorance, in this sense, is inspiring. We have so much more to learn. At the end of the book, Krauss reminds us that one of the most exciting things about science is that the best chapter has yet to be written. Discoveries this century may transform the way we see the universe. Those of us who are not participating can still enjoy the ride.

Profile Image for Güliz Bayram.
26 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2019
Hiç yoktan bir evren kitabından sonra beklentimin altında kaldı. Oldukça bol ve ayrıntılı fizik bilgisi içeriğinden sıkıldım ve kitabı bitiremedim. Nüktedan anlatımıyla çekici olabileceğinden modern fiziği ve tarihini merak edenlere öneririm.
Profile Image for Alan Tomkins-Raney.
244 reviews39 followers
May 22, 2022
2.5 to 3 stars. I really liked the author's previous book A Universe from Nothing because I truly enjoy learning about cosmology; so I was looking forward to this one, anticipating a sort of sequel. Apparently I really do NOT enjoy learning about particle physics and quantum field theories, and this book seemed to me like something of a bore and a chore. The main point of the book can be summed up in this excerpt from the last chapter: "If we now ask why things are the way they are, the best answer we can suggest is that it is the result of an accident in the history of the universe in which a field froze in empty space in a certain way." Fair enough, but this is after 300 pages of pretty heavy, mentally challenging reading. The author wraps up with this comforting bromide: "The greatest gift that science can give us is to allow us to overcome our need to be the center of existence even as we learn to appreciate the wonder of the accident we are privileged to witness." Krauss is indeed a talented writer and educator, as well as a scientific genius. If you are fascinated by quantum physics, you may very well be mentally stimulated and enthralled by this book. If not, then other books on science and/or philosophy may be more to your liking.
Profile Image for Ann-Marie "Cookie M.".
1,049 reviews119 followers
December 20, 2021
It has gotten to a point in a discussion of neutron decay where I am totallY lost, and realize I must have missed something important in a previous lecture.
I will restart this book at a future time when I am not so distracted by current events.
Profile Image for Todd Martin.
Author 4 books73 followers
September 11, 2018
“I loved the fight scenes and the sex scenes were excellent.”
- Eric Idle {in what is literally, the best part of the book}

The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far: Why Are We Here? is the story of the profound success that theoretical and experimental physics has had from Isaac Newton to Peter Higgs. The book is by Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (or used to be, but I won’t get into that here). After an extended discussion of particles, Yang-Mills symmetry, quantum field theory, superconductors, quantum electrodynamics and every physicist who has won the Nobel Prize, Krauss spends the final chapter discussing cosmology and the recent successes of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

Intrigued? Well … unless you have an advanced degree in physics, I’m afraid most will find the book to be a complete waste of time. This is because Krauss fails to establish the requisite baseline of knowledge that the reader would need to comprehend the esoteric topics covered in the text. I say this as someone with 2 master’s degrees in engineering who took 3 semesters of undergraduate physics (Newtonian, Relativity, Quantum). Despite this, I really wasn’t able to follow the bulk of the book. Some may blame the reader for this lack of comprehension, but in my experience this has all the hallmarks of a writer with a poor grasp of their audience (something Krauss has in common with a number of scientists who attempt to write popular books).

In case you have any doubts, Krauss spends an inordinate amount of time on Gauge Theory, a topic that is more typically covered during masters or PhD level coursework (though this would obviously be more math-centric than the treatment Krauss provides). Feel free to get a taste of this yourself here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauge_t...

As to the book’s title … do the discoveries of physics represent the ‘greatest story ever told’ or does it represent a self-congratulatory pat on the back by a physicist to his profession? A little of both, but before smugness sets in it’s worth noting that the mutually reinforcing relationship that theoretical and experimental physics has had largely came to an end sometime in the 1970s with the development of the standard model of particle physics. Since that time, theoretical physics has hit somewhat of a dry spell, with the leading theories (aka string or m-theory) being unable to make a single testable prediction. As a result, the experimentalists have had to resort to confirming predictions made some time ago (such as that of the Higgs field, which was first proposed in 1964). This brings the tag ‘So Far’ and it’s implication that there is much more to come into question.

As to the ‘Why Are We Here?’ subtitle … the true answer to this question, as Krauss rightly points out, is that it was an accident … an answer that is about as satisfying as this book.
Profile Image for Nilesh Jasani.
954 reviews119 followers
June 11, 2017
This summary, popular science book has almost nothing new to offer and does not have the easiest, most engaging explanations to compensate either.

With a plethora of great books written on relativity/quantum mechanics in the last ten or so years, the task for anyone to come up with something good in telling the story of Galileo/Newton onwards, with a large portion of the book elaborating on the discoveries of the first half of the Twentieth century and then completing with the latest, is extremely difficult. Mr. Krauss traverses this usual journey in the most unremarkable fashion.

The highlight of the book was perhaps in the beginning when the author is dealing with electromagnetic discoveries surrounding Maxwell. From there on, the book continues to decline partly because of the short length (quantum phenomenon and relativity needed more leisurely explanations to drive the points home. As such, a large part of the book in the second half turns incomprehensible) and partly because of the constant shuffle between scientific arguments and arguments on the lives of the scientists.

The author does make occasional great points or draw analogies that make one understand better than in other such books. Yet, such instances are few and far in between.
Profile Image for Wyatt.
46 reviews
August 5, 2020
Lawrence has a way of making science read like poetry and has an ability to simplify the most complex ideas in such a way that most readers will comprehend and digest fairly easily. This book is beautifully written and works not only as an introduction to quantum mechanics but also as a book of science scripture. Perhaps rather than bibles they should provide this book in the nightstand drawers of hotels.

I think everyone should read this book, especially those who have many questions about the world, galaxy and universe they live in. This will open your mind to the science worldview and show you the importance of science not only as a field of study but a way of life.
430 reviews8 followers
May 26, 2017
The big breakthroughs in physics, especially covering quantum & particle physics over the 20th century. This history provides a good sense of the major issues, discoveries, & personalities but it also reminds & makes good sense of the quote about writing about art makes about as much sense as dancing about architecture. If you can claim to understand any of the physics from this book, your smarter than I am.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,664 followers
December 15, 2017
Overly dense and jargon-y and more a bunch of biographies than any grand theories. Read the Bill Bryson one instead for a primer or even the Neil De Grass Tyson one was better
Profile Image for Dennis.
Author 8 books79 followers
October 13, 2018
I started to listen to this and just could not get into it. Mabye I'll pick it up again at some point.
Profile Image for Юра Мельник.
294 reviews22 followers
April 22, 2019
Читав фрагментами. Нічого не зрозумів. Було дуже нудно. Але подивлюсь його виступи на TED.
Profile Image for Mark Lawry.
226 reviews10 followers
January 19, 2023
A breathtaking reminder of my engineer dad. I never understood my dad. He always got so animated when speaking of science and physics. Over the years dear old Dad dragged me up the mountain in Hawaii to see the Keck, the Australian telescopes outside Canberra, the Large Array in New Mexico, among other places. All great memories now but at the time I didn't really understand why these places were so important to him.

My first assignment in the U.S. Army was Fort Hood Texas. Dad drove down from Boston to try to find the cancelled Super Collider. I've never seen him so upset. Unfortunately, Dad wasn't very good at explaining his own passion and love for science. At the time I suggested to him that science is global and if something will be discovered Man will discover it. Europeans are smart, their collider will work. Who cares if it is Europeans who prove theories instead of us Americans? He didn't like my answer to his concerns one bit.

Years later our family was in Europe when CERN proved the Higgs Boson. I took everyone out to see their collider because I knew dad would have wanted his granddaughter to see it. Chatting with the engineers taking us on the tour they were horrified that the U.S. had cancelled our Texas collider. Being Europeans I was a little shocked. I kind of figured they'd be proud of what CERN had just done. Nope, they then explained to me that Europe simply doesn't have the flat open space Texas has to build the collider needed to prove other particles. We Americans needed to fix ourselves and build that damn collider. This was the beginning of me understanding why dad was so upset. Krauss sounds like these CERN engineers. He does a great job of explaining why my dad was so animated by so many places.
56 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2020
From the very first moment of the quantum fluctuation to the current universe filled with particles, antiparticles and mysterious dark matter. A hint for the Grand Unified Theory. Search for the elementary particles hirarchy. Massless photons to symmetry breaking Higgs particle. A good read.
Profile Image for Shane Phillips.
339 reviews19 followers
April 23, 2017
I love a great science story. Filled with science, amazing scientist, this books tells a fascinating story of our universe and the nature of reality
Profile Image for Kara Fox.
43 reviews
December 29, 2021
This book was cool and I really have no idea what I read. Used to really look up to this guy but just found out he has multiple allegations against him so. Disappointing.
8 reviews2 followers
May 19, 2017
Joshua Krueger
Review 8

What first caught my attention in The Greatest story ever told -- so far was Lawrence M. Krauss’ love of science. It is roughly 336 pages. The book covers from the 17th century to the 21st century. It is a comprehensive book that will significantly increase your knowledge and understanding of science. He introduces concepts with understandable dialect, and visual representation.
Krauss implements ideas in a way that will make you audibly say oh, he makes the book interesting and involves you. He gives you different perspectives on matters, and uses clear and functional analogies. He successfully attempts at tying the make you want to learn and discover new things.
I really enjoyed it and recommend it for anyone who is competent. It is more interesting than a lot academic books. Not only that, you can gain a better understanding of important scientific facts that are set in the framework of an enticing story line.
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