There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, in recent years discoveries in physics and cosmology have led a number of scientists to conclude that our universe may be one among many. With crystal-clear prose and inspired use of analogy, Brian Greene shows how a range of different “multiverse” proposals emerges from theories developed to explain the most refined observations of both subatomic particles and the dark depths of space: a multiverse in which you have an infinite number of doppelgängers, each reading this sentence in a distant universe; a multiverse comprising a vast ocean of bubble universes, of which ours is but one; a multiverse that endlessly cycles through time, or one that might be hovering millimeters away yet remains invisible; another in which every possibility allowed by quantum physics is brought to life. Or, perhaps strangest of all, a multiverse made purely of mathematics.
Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a captivating exploration of these parallel worlds and reveals how much of reality’s true nature may be deeply hidden within them.
©2011 Brian Greene (P)2011 Random House Audio
I have read several physics books (including some written by Greene) so I have some background in the topic, but I am far from understanding it all. Greene does a very good job of making insanely complicated concepts (like multiple, folded, hidden dimensions) accessible to someone who doesn't have a Ph.D in math. He frequently uses real world analogies to bridge this gap, and even though the concepts are still daunting for a lay person, Greene makes them a little more accessible.
However, whatever his talents as a writer, Greene should leave it to professional readers to read his material. I found his voice and presentation very irritable, especially over the course of a long unabridged audio book. I almost stopped listening, it grated on me that much. Listen to a sample before downloading, and you may decide to read it instead of listening.
This book brought not just answers to questions developed in my own mind, but also to questions my mind would have never generated. On more than one occasion the words which Greene was narrating brought not only understanding but joy and happiness to my being. Physics and math have never brought me as much overwhelming emotion as they did with this book, if anything they have been personal struggles for me. Yet through simple language and easily visualized analogies I have had my perceptions of reality and consciousness changed and expanded. Should & have & will continue to recommend this book and most likely his others.
If you are considering this book, then odds are that you enjoy high-level science concepts translated to the educated lay listener. If that's the case: buy this book. Yes, there are points where the concepts are a bit byzantine and the lines between physics, cosmology, and metaphysics are a little blurry here, but those are aspects of the underlying science and not unique to this one book. I enjoyed it tremendously and will listen to it a second time. Narration is good.
l'enfer c'est les autres
I have yet to grow tired of Brian Greene's books. As with his other two books that I've read this is an exciting read. He amazes me with his great analogies and he never seems to repeat himself from his other books even when he talks about that the same subject matter. If you only have time to read one of his books, I would recommend this one. It takes you to the recently prevalent acceptance of possible explanations for the creation of our universe within a multi-universe. His books on science listens like a well written exciting science fiction novel. They are always fun listens. Soon as he publishes something else, I'll end up buying it. Can hardly wait for his next.
College physics book.
I was inspired to stop listening about the time I got to chapter 7.
First, I love Brian Greene. I've seen his documentaries and have always found the fascinating. His views on parallel dimensions are inspiring and entertaining, especially when he gets into debates with other physicists. I just don't think I'm smart enough for this book. It's a subject I really enjoy learning about, but it is presented in some very complicated ways in this book. I do realize that this is a complicated subject, by the way. It just lost me and never really came back around. If you are more experienced with the math and harder to understand concepts, you would really enjoy this book. I just don't feel like he dumbed it down enough for me. I'll keep it on file just in case I get smarter one day.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Hidden Reality looks, relatively even handedly, at many theories of alternate universes. Doing this is quite tricky as some of the theories are quite ???out there??? while others are tightly coupled to what we actually know about the universe. Using such an even hand tends to lump the almost wacky with the truly thought provoking. I prefer books that deeply analyze one or two theories to a survey of many at a high level, but if this book encourages readers to find out more, it will have been successful. Yet I worry that non-scientific readers will be overwhelmed with the myriad of conflicting theories. I really enjoyed Brian Greene???s narration. If you are really bothered by hearing anything close to a lisp, maybe you should listen to this book over and over until you get over it. The "lisp'' is so minor it did not bother me an iota. I found his speech charming and expressive of the joy and tantalizing mysteries of physics.
This is not for those who know little of theoretical physics. I found it hard to follow and keep concentration on this book. It's theories are complex and profound and not easily translated to the layman. If you are looking for easy listening and translational material check out Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku.
Having this read by Brian Greene himself is a very nice touch. The concepts and principles are very well laid out. The concepts can get deep and there are a lot of implied assumptions and thought exercises. But the topic is founded on assumptions and thought exercises.
Highly recommend reading if only for the accepted pronunciation of various mathematical and science terms.
this guy is a good writer. he brings all that science channel and history channel stuff into theoretical models i can actually follow
I have long been a fan of Brian Greene and his skillful attempts to bring extremely difficult topics in physics within the general understanding of a non-mathematical audience. I thought both The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos were tour de forces of both lucid and entertaining writing, and both were rich with information not easy to absorb in another form or from another writer. Now along comes The Hidden Reality. Now we have Brian Greene tackling arguably a far less known or understood, and in many ways far-fetched topic: multiple universes. Is our universe the only one, or “all there is”, (i.e. the meaning of “universe”), or is everything we have ever observed or conceived of existing only one of a multitude (perhaps an infinite number) of such universes? By taking on such a topic in the first place, Greene is upping the ante quite a bit, even in comparison with discussions of topics like string theory.
At this point, I begin to take issue with his approach. I can see that Brian chose to “put out there” a panoply of wild ideas proposed by others, without passing judgment on whether they are right, wrong, or just plain ridiculous. In particular, I have problem believing that the “quantum multiverse” of Everett, the simulation multiverse or the everything (mathematical) multiverse are more than human-inspired fantasies.
I find the idea of a multiverse in general very appealing and reasonable, as I could never accept the “fact” that a single Big Bang, before which there was “nothing” started it all. Brane collisions or Big Bang like bubble formations within a much larger overall field of some sort make more sense. It makes sense that our universe is neither special as being the only one in time or in “the space of spaces”. But it’s going out on a limb to “know” that the landscape in which they exist is infinite in time or spatial dimensions. Greene has written a thoughtful and provocative book that will stimulate lively discussion.
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