some sort of “laws of nature”
a variable of time so that the equations of quantum mechanics can be meaningful
a “false vacuum” and
a multiverse from which our universe can expand from some other empty space containing zero energy and mass.
Obviously (at least to a physicist) none of these things qualify as “absolutely nothing at all.” Yet this is precisely what is needed if Krauss’s argument is to deliver what many atheists think it promises.
In another video, a mathematician states, “If nature can find simply a way of dividing zero by zero, it has a lot of creative power, it can create anything.” However, one is left wondering how “nature” can both be absolutely nothing at all, and also find a way of dividing zero by zero.
Bottom line: The “nothing” that Krauss and others refer to is not what it seems to the naïve listener — something must always be included.
Here is a simple refutation. Rather than engaging in confusing discussions of “nothing” and what it actually includes, there is a much simpler solution.
In physics, both the left and right sides of an equation must have the same dimensions (or be able to be converted to the same dimensions). To quote a tutorial from the University of Guelph Department of Physics:
An equation in which each term has the same dimensions is said to be dimensionally correct. All equations used in any science should be dimensionally correct. The only time you’ll encounter one which isn’t is if there is an error in the equation.
For a highly simplified example, if we observe someone arguing that space (length L) and time (T) came from nothing, we can simplify the equation to L.T. = [dimensionless]. Since we have Length and Time on the left, and a dimensionless, absolutely nothing at all on the right, the equation is dimensionally incorrect. Therefore, we know that the person has either:
1.) made an error in the theory or
2.) their “nothing” is not actually nothing, but contains some form of Length and Time, even if originating from a quantum fluctuation in another universe.
Conclusion: A universe from absolutely nothing at all is incorrect; both the left and right sides of even a complex equation must contain the same dimensions.