The universe was made of zero energy

Since a publication by Edwin Hubble in 1929, we have known that the galaxies are moving away from our own Milky Way, at an escape speed that increases proportionally with distance. If one extrapolates the escape movement back into the past, then all matter at the beginning of the universe seems to have been concentrated in one point. This finding led to the formulation of the Big Bang theory. These measurements have been significantly refined over the past few decades. The apparent brightness of star explosions (supernovae) is used to measure the distance. At the end of the life of stars above a certain mass, they explode. The duration and brightness of these explosions follow a fixed pattern so that the absolute brightness can be calculated from the course of the explosion. The distance can then be determined by comparing the absolute with the apparent brightness.

A great advantage of this method is that the brightness of the explosions is so strong that it is in the order of magnitude of the total brightness of galaxies and can therefore be detected over huge distances. The escape speed of the galaxies can be determined by their light spectrum (redshift) shifted to larger wavelengths by the Doppler effect. Now one should actually expect that the escape speed will decrease somewhat over time, since the gravitation between the galaxies has a braking effect. More precise measurements on particularly distant galaxies showed exactly the opposite. There is an acceleration. This can only be explained physically by means of a previously unknown force field that was referred to as dark energy.

Since one can convert mass into energy according to Einstein, the question arises how big the total dark energy is compared to the total mass. The current result is that dark energy is 68.3% and the remainder is made up of 4.9% matter (atoms) and 26.8% dark matter. The visible part of the universe, i.e. the shining stars, only make up about 1%. Both the total mass and the total amount of dark energy can be summarized as the total positive energy of the universe. Opposite it is the entire gravitational energy, which has a negative sign. If these two contributions are added together, the result is a total energy of zero within an error limit of a few percent.

Measuring the Universe

One of the central questions in cosmology is that of the geometry of space. Do we live in a positively curved universe that is closed or a negatively curved, open universe or exactly on the border between these two possibilities, namely in a flat universe? In a flat universe the sum of the angles of a triangle is exactly 180 °, while it is larger in a positively curved universe and smaller in a negatively curved universe. Krauss explains how a determination of the geometry was made possible by measuring the spatial distribution of the fluctuation of the cosmic background radiation. The most precise mapping of this radiation so far comes from the research satellites WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) and Planck.

The results indicate a flat universe with an accuracy of one percent. This corresponds exactly with the above-mentioned determination of the total energy of the universe, because the theory requires a total energy of zero for a flat universe. In other words, no energy at all is required for the creation of the universe and therefore it can have arisen out of nowhere through quantum fluctuations.

Krauss concludes: “Quantum gravity not only seems to allow universes to emerge from nowhere, it could even require them. The “nothing” - in this case no space, no time, no nothing at all! - is actually unstable ”. What makes this theory so convincing are the independent observation results, which all point in the same direction, namely a flat universe with a total energy of zero. Even the frequency distribution of the elements fits exactly into this picture.

The final loophole for a creator god: creation of the laws of nature.

Theologians who have been cornered sometimes see the last chance for arguing the necessary existence of a creator god that he created the laws of nature according to which the big bang took place. But this argument can also be refuted. The modern theories of quantum gravity and superstring theory suggest that our universe is not the only one, but that it is part of a multiverse made up of a huge number of individual universes. Random natural laws with random natural constants then apply in the individual universes. According to the anthropic principle, we inevitably live in a universe with natural laws that make biological life possible. Quite apart from these arguments, a god who fills the last remaining gaps in scientific knowledge is a very poor god. Krauss asks in an interview: Where does God go when the last gaps are filled?

The dark end of the world

It is true that one cannot predict the future of the world with absolute certainty within the framework of cosmology. But according to our current knowledge, our universe will continue to expand, the stars will burn up and matter will completely disintegrate. At some point, due to the physical conditions, there will be neither biological life nor artificial life or intelligence. Even any information about any civilizations will disappear. In this respect we have to state that there cannot be a higher ultimate meaning of our existence in principle.

However, this does not change the fact that we can give our life a meaning that is limited to the duration of our civilization. Krauss writes: “A universe without purpose or direction may appear to some people as if it makes life meaningless. For others, including myself, such a universe is invigorating. It makes the fact of our existence even more amazing and motivates us to derive meaning from our own actions and to make the most of our short existence under the sun ”.


In circles of conservative philosophers and theologians, the book has generated considerable resentment and opposition. The New York philosopher David Albert complains that the nothing described by Krauss is a quantum vacuum that is able to bring particles into reality and that it would be something different from the nothing idealized by philosophers and theologians.

The Berlin philosopher Claus-Peter Eichhorst writes in his book “The false nothing” But your (note: physicists such as Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking) error is certain, a memorial to pseudo-naturalistic hubris. Because nothing that becomes a universe is - like the nothingness of the creation theologians - no nothing: a false nothing. The Munich philosopher and Jesuit Godehard Brüntrup believes that something that does not exist cannot achieve anything.

Krauss describes such critics as “idiotic philosophers”, because nothing other than that of the physical definition cannot exist in reality. The dispute will continue. Not all questions of cosmology have really been resolved yet, but the fog is clearing. Science doesn't know everything yet, religion doesn't know anything.

Bernd Vowinkel

Lawrence M. Krauss, "A Universe Out of Nothing". 256 pages, Albrecht Knaus Verlag, ISBN-13: 978-3813504682 (Original title: A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing)