Robyn Williams reviews 'Conjuring the Universe: The origins of the laws of nature' by Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins writes a sentence at the beginning of this bewildering book that seems both preposterous and cheeky: ‘I would like to assert that not much happened at the Creation.’ And then: ‘I would like to replace the “not much” by “absolutely nothing”.’ How can any leading scientist, and Atkins is certainly that, claim that the very beginning of the universe and everything could have been just a bit of a doddle? All that Big Bang and stupendous expansion, all that evolution in microseconds, from nothing to lumpy gas and, eventually stars and galaxies, was ‘not much’?

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Published in August 2018, no. 403