This is Chetanath Neupane,
Editor, New Dimension Magazine
Department of Physics, St. Xavier’s College, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Professor Lawrence M. Krauss, thank you very much for providing your precious time for our magazine. Personally I am very happy and much eager to talk to the best-selling author of several books and more than 300 research publications & Director, The Origins Project at ASU and Foundation Professor, School of Earth & Space Exploration and Physics Department Arizona State University. I would like to welcome you to this session On New Dimension Magazine.
- Professor Krauss, you are very busy person. How do you manage your time?
I try and agree to do many different things, and then juggle them one at a time. I find that if I don’t have a lot to do, I sometimes do very little. I tend to focus intensively on one thing at a time, and work through the list. Sometimes I have to focus on 3 or 4 very different things in a single day, but I actually like the variety as well.
- Dear Professor, first of all I would like to Congratulate for your recent book publication “The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far” , how do you introduce this book to laymen what is the greatest story in this book?
“It is the story of the remarkable effort humans have made to understand the fundamental forces that govern nature, and to strip back the illusion of reality that we experience on human scales to understand the underlying structure beneath it.”
- It is said that life in the Universe can occur only when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range. In what sense, if any, is the universe fine-tuned? What conclusions should we draw from the existence of fine-tuning?
“The Universe isn’t fine tuned for life. Life is fine-tuned for the universe. If the parameters of the universe were different perhaps different life forms might be possible. Moreover, even quantities like the energy of empty space, which seems to be so small compared to the value it might have, and which, if it were any larger, would not allow galaxies to have formed, could nevertheless have been much smaller and the universe would be more conducive to life. And a value of zero for this quantity would seem very natural indeed.”
- Prof. Krauss, I kindly expect your answer in my personal question arising while going through your another famous book “A Universe from Nothing” which contains an argument, why there is something rather than nothing. How can you explain it to a non-physicist, how the universe can be created out of nothing?
“Well, quantum mechanics allows for the spontaneous emission of particles like photons, the particles that make up light, whenever an electron changes its state in an atom. The photon appears from nothing. It was not in the atom before it was emitted. It simply appeared. Similarly, it turns out that elementary particles can spontaneously appear in empty space, once again due to the properties of quantum mechanics, this time in combination with relativity. If gravity is a quantum theory, then the variables that gravity describes, space and time, become quantum mechanical in nature, and whole space-times can appear spontaneously. This means that whole universes can appear that did not exist before. And it turns out our universe has the properties that one would expect from a universe that spontaneously appeared from nothing in this way.”
- Do you agree that “philosophy” is the best way to understand Physics and Nature?
“Natural-Philosophy, what we now call Science is the best, and I believe, the only reliable way to understand how the physical universe operates.”
- If time (or space) is infinite, everything that can happen has already happened, even down to me typing these words, and there is no change, only cycles of varying lengths. But how could time not be infinite? How can there be no state of being at all?
“Our universe had, as far as we can tell, a beginning, about 13.8 billion years ago. As far as we can tell, both space and time may have begun then. Now, as far as we can tell, our universe may expand forever. So in that sense time could be infinite..(or as we say in physics or mathematics, semi-infinite). And it is true that if our universe exists into the indefinite future then many strange aspects of infinity, including the possible repetition of everything we experience, an infinite number of times, for separate versions of us, might be possible. But we certainly don’t know if this is the case, and the conditions of the future universe could change so that life forms like us could not exist in the far future in any case.”
- Once you have said “String theory doesn’t really make any predictions at this point because it’s still an evolving idea”, is there any significant development in this idea?
“There has been a lot of mathematical development, and interest techniques have been developed that have been useful in other areas of physics. But fundamentally my earlier statement remains the same.”
- You say that you are an atheist. How do you define atheism? Are you an atheist because of your scientific consciousness?
“An atheist is simply someone who finds the argument for God unconvincing. Everything I have learned as a scientist over the past 35 years makes God not only seems highly unlikely, but largely redundant even if such an entity did exist. There is no evidence for miracles, and the laws of physics describe the history of the universe back to the earliest moments of the big bang without supernatural shenanigans.”
- Professor, Is “Dishonest” the only word for someone who believes in god despite being a scientist?
“No, I don’t think so. A vague ‘deist’ notion.. Assuming some purpose or order in the universe determined by some unknown intelligence, cannot be refuted by science. It is just unnecessary. But the Gods of the world’s major religions are all not in accord with our scientific understanding of nature. I wouldn’t call it dishonesty. Religion is foisted on young people, and it is hard to overcome.. We all tend to believe in mutually contradictory things at one time or another.”
- Professor, let we discuss about the global scenario, In January 2017, the Doomsday Clock is set at two and a half minutes to midnight, due to a rise of strident nationalism worldwide, US President Donald Trump’s comments over North Korea, Russia, nuclear weapons, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration. What is the real picture of our planet at this point? Are we heading towards world war III?
“Who knows? The world is a dangerous place, and we have to wake up to those dangers and begin to think globally. As Einstein said many years ago after the first nuclear explosion, “Everything has changed, save the way we think”. Unfortunately our thinking remains the same.”
- In the end, What is your message to young researcher in Nepal?
“Keep doing what you love. Don’t get discouraged by others. Work hard, and enjoy discussing your work with others. .”
For more about Prof. Krauss go through the following Links: