Lawrence Maxwell Krauss
May 27, 1954
New York City, U.S.
|Thesis||Gravitation and Phase Transitions in the Early Universe (1982)|
|Doctoral advisor||Roscoe Giles|
Lawrence Maxwell Krauss (born May 27, 1954) is an American-Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist who previously taught at Arizona State University, Yale University, and Case Western Reserve University. He founded ASU's Origins Project, now called ASU Interplanetary Initiative, to investigate fundamental questions about the universe and served as the project's director.
Krauss is an advocate for public understanding of science, public policy based on sound empirical data, scientific skepticism, and science education. An anti-theist, Krauss seeks to reduce the influence of what he regards as superstition and religious dogma in popular culture.
Upon investigating allegations about sexual misconduct by Krauss, ASU determined that he had violated university policy and did not renew his Origins Project directorship for a third term in July 2018. Krauss continued as a Professor at ASU until retiring in May 2019. He currently serves as President of The Origins Project Foundation and as host of The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss.
Krauss was born on May 27, 1954, in New York City, but spent his childhood in Toronto. He was raised in a household that was Jewish but not religious. Krauss received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics with first-class honours at Carleton University in Ottawa in 1977, and was awarded a Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.
After some time in the Harvard Society of Fellows, Krauss became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1985 and associate professor in 1988. He left Yale for Case Western Reserve University in 1993 when he was named the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, professor of astronomy, and chairman of the physics department until 2005. In 2006, Krauss led the initiative for the no-confidence vote against Case Western Reserve University's president Edward M. Hundert and provost John L. Anderson by the College of Arts and Sciences faculty. On March 2, 2006, both no-confidence votes were carried: 131–44 against Hundert and 97–68 against Anderson.
In August 2008, Krauss joined the faculty at Arizona State University as a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He also became the Director of the Origins Project, a university initiative "created to explore humankind's most fundamental questions about our origins". In 2009, he helped inaugurate this initiative at the Origins Symposium, in which eighty scientists participated and three thousand people attended.
Donors to the Origins Project included a foundation called "Enhanced Education", run by the financier and sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein. In 2011, Krauss defended his association with Epstein, saying "As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I've never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people."
Krauss appears in the media both at home and abroad to facilitate public outreach in science. He has also written editorials for The New York Times. As a result of his appearance in 2002 before the state school board of Ohio, his opposition to intelligent design has gained national prominence.
Krauss attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposia in November 2006 and October 2008. He served on the science policy committee for Barack Obama's first (2008) presidential campaign and, also in 2008, was named co-president of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In 2010, he was elected to the board of directors of the Federation of American Scientists, and in June 2011, he joined the professoriate of the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London. In 2013, he accepted a part-time professorship at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in the physics department of the Australian National University.
Krauss is a critic of string theory, which he discusses in his 2005 book Hiding in the Mirror. In his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing Krauss says about string theory "we still have no idea if this remarkable theoretical edifice actually has anything to do with the real world". Released in March 2011, another book titled Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science, while A Universe from Nothing—with an afterword by Richard Dawkins—was released in January 2012, and became a New York Times bestseller within a week. Originally, its foreword was to have been written by Christopher Hitchens, but Hitchens grew too ill to complete it. The paperback version of the book appeared in January 2013 with a new question-and-answer section and a preface integrating the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider. On March 21, 2017, his newest book, The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far: Why Are We Here? was released in hardcover, paperback, and audio version.
A July 2012 article in Newsweek, written by Krauss, indicates how the Higgs particle is related to our understanding of the Big Bang. He also wrote a longer piece in the New York Times explaining the science behind and significance of the particle.
In January 2019, Krauss became President of the Origins Project Foundation, a non-profit corporation intended to host public panel discussions on science, culture, and social issues. On June 21, 2019, a new video podcast, The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss, launched with Krauss as host. The first episodes included dialogues with Ricky Gervais, Noam Chomsky, and Jenny Boylan.
In a February 2018 article describing allegations that "range from offensive comments to groping and non-consensual sexual advances", BuzzFeed reported a variety of sexual misconduct claims against Krauss, including two complaints from his years at Case Western Reserve University. Krauss responded that the article was "slanderous" and "factually incorrect". In a public statement, he apologized to anyone he made feel intimidated or uncomfortable, but stated that the BuzzFeed article "ignored counter-evidence, distorted the facts and made absurd claims about [him]."
ASU stated that they had not received complaints from faculty, staff, or students before the BuzzFeed article but subsequently began an internal investigation regarding an accusation that Krauss grabbed a woman's breast while at a convention in Australia. Investigators interviewed two eyewitnesses, and two other witnesses who immediately spoke with the unnamed woman. The witnesses described the woman as troubled and shocked. The woman told investigators that "she did not feel victimized, felt it was a clumsy interpersonal interaction and thought she had handled it in the moment." ASU found that the preponderance of evidence suggested that Krauss had violated the university's policy against sexual harassment by grabbing a woman's breast without her permission. As a result, Krauss was not renewed as Director of the Origins Project and the University moved its staff to a project run by planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton, formally ending the Origins project.
In response to the University determination, Krauss produced a 51-page appeal document responding to the allegations, including a counter-claim that a photo claimed to be of Krauss grabbing a woman's breast was actually showing his hand moving away from the woman.[third-party source needed]
Several organizations also canceled scheduled talks by Krauss. Krauss resigned from the position of chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors when informed that its other members felt his presence was distracting "from the ability of the Bulletin to effectively carry out [its] work".
In December 2020, Michael Sherlock, executive director of Atheist Alliance International, announced that the AAI had appointed Krauss to its Advisory Council. Sherlock said he had examined the allegations against Krauss and found them without merit.
Krauss retired from ASU at the end of the 2018–2019 academic year.
Krauss mostly works in theoretical physics and has published research on a variety of topics within that field. In 1995 he proposed that the energy-density of the universe was dominated by the energy of empty space. In 1998 this prediction was confirmed by two observational collaborations and in 2011 the Nobel Prize was awarded for their discovery. Krauss has formulated a model in which the Universe could have potentially come from "nothing", as outlined in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing. He explains that certain arrangements of relativistic quantum fields might explain the existence of the Universe as we know it while disclaiming that he "has no idea if the notion [of taking quantum mechanics for granted] can be usefully dispensed with". As his model appears to agree with experimental observations of the Universe (such as its shape and energy density), it is referred to by some as a "plausible hypothesis". His model has however been criticized by cosmologist George Ellis, who said it "is not tested science" but "philosophical speculation".
Initially, Krauss was skeptical of the existence of the Higgs boson. However, after it was detected by CERN, he has been researching the implications of the Higgs field on the nature of dark energy.
Krauss has argued that public policy debates in the United States should have a greater focus on science. He criticized Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's statements on science, writing that Carson's remarks "suggest he never learned or chooses to ignore basic, well-tested scientific concepts".
Krauss has described himself as an antitheist and takes part in public debates on religion. Krauss is featured in the 2013 documentary The Unbelievers, in which he and Richard Dawkins travel across the globe speaking publicly about the importance of science and reason as opposed to religion and superstition. He has participated in many debates with religious apologists, including William Lane Craig and John Lennox.
In his book A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (2012), Krauss discusses the premise that something cannot come from nothing, which has often been used as an argument for the existence of a prime mover. He has since argued in a debate with John Ellis and Don Cupitt that the laws of physics allow for the Universe to be created from nothing. "What would be the characteristics of a universe that was created from nothing, just with the laws of physics and without any supernatural shenanigans? The characteristics of the universe would be precisely those of the ones we live in." In an interview with The Atlantic, however, he states that he has never claimed that "questions about origins are over". According to Krauss, "I don't ever claim to resolve that infinite regress of why-why-why-why-why; as far as I'm concerned it's turtles all the way down".
With the publication of his newest book, The Physics of Climate Change (2021), Krauss is urging the use of science, and not politics, ideology, or emotion, to steer the public debate on how to address climate change.
In an interview with Krauss in the Scientific American, science writer Claudia Dreifus called Krauss "one of the few top physicists who is also known as a public intellectual." Krauss is one of very few to have received awards from all three major American physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. In 2012, he was awarded the National Science Board's Public Service Medal for his contributions to public education in science and engineering in the United States.
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (December 2014)
Krauss has authored or co-authored more than three hundred scientific studies and review articles on cosmology and theoretical physics.
The Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God.
ASU announced Thursday that the Origins Project, formerly headed by Lawrence Krauss, will move underneath the University's Interplanetary Initiative and lose its name.
'Leading the national discussion requires some basic knowledge of what the important issues are, what is known and not known, and what new efforts need to be commenced,' says physicist Lawrence Krauss. 'Scientific data is not Democratic or Republican.'
Too little of the US presidential campaign mentions science, says Krauss, considering its importance.
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