I was watching a lecture by Alan Guth and wished I was in the classroom to be able to ask a question. He explained that the total energy in the universe could be very close to zero since mass and radiation is offset by the negative energy of the gravitational field. I wonder why mass isn't still "popping" into existence as long as a gravitational field also comes to be simultaneously.

  • $\begingroup$ The zero energy universe makes very little sense. Energy is defined as the ability of a system to perform work (on another system). What system would the universe be performing work on? OTOH, the ability of the universe to perform work internally is amazingly large, so unless Guth and others have come up with a new definition of energy, it's not even clear what they are saying. That "mass isn't being created in the universe" is simply false because the mass-energy equivalence doesn't make that a meaningful statement, to begin with. Matter is converted to radiation, though, and vice-versa. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Jun 19, 2016 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ @CuriousOne You should probably watch a couple of You Tube lectures to see what Alan Guth and Lawrence Krauss are talking about. Just because they are highly acclaimed doesn't mean that they are right, but it does mean you should respect their opinion. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2016 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ I am not getting my physics from YouTube and neither should you. I am getting my physics from nature, so if Guth and Krauss have an experiment to suggest to test this hypothesis, I am all ear. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I'll go launch my own satellite to get better data from the CMB and then build my own Super Collider to find out things not yet discovered by LHC. Sorry for watching a lecture by a Nobel prize winning physicist. $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2016 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ I guess Guth hasn't won the Nobel Prize. I'm surprised, he deserves it. $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2016 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


The idea of a "Zero-Energy Universe" is a theory held by a limited number of scientists.

There are several stackexchange question that expand on the theory and may help you.

Zero energy universe

Total energy of the Universe

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the links! I have no idea how many scientists subscribe to this idea, but Guth, Krauss and maybe even Hawking are a pretty good start. I don't really think my question is a duplicate since it is saying "if they are right then ...", but it may be speculative so I will withdraw it if site members want me to. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2016 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ I just watched a lecture by Lawrence Krauss that may have answered my question (theoretically). He explains that new mass may be being created all of the time, but that when it does it would decouple from our universe and we would never detect it. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2016 at 16:37

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