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Publisher's Summary

In The Universe, today's most influential science writers explain the science behind our evolving understanding of The Universe and everything in it, including the cutting-edge research and discoveries that are shaping our knowledge.

Lee Smolin reveals how math and cosmology are helping us create a theory of the whole universe. Neil Turok analyzes the fundamental laws of nature, what came before the big bang, and the possibility of a unified theory. Seth Lloyd investigates the impact of computational revolutions and the informational revolution. Lawrence Krauss provides fresh insight into gravity, dark matter, and the energy of empty space. Brian Greene and Walter Isaacson discuss Albert Einstein.

And much more. Explore The Universe with some of today's greatest minds: what it is, how it came into being, and what may happen next.

©2014 The Edge Foundation (P)2014 Tantor

What members say

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 10-05-14

Equivalant to reading 25 books

Who would have thought a series of essays written by multiple scientific experts could have been as spell tingling as this book was? I know I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Part of the reason this book works so well is because none of the essays are that recent. We've learned a lot in the past two years for which the authors with their wild speculations at the time were not aware of.

Two things the current reader should be aware of before listening to these essays. 1) The Higgs Boson is real and is at 125 Giga Electron Volts which is half way between the string theorist wanted (115 GeV) and what the multi-universe supporters expected (144 GeV), and 2) Gravitational waves have probably been found and if that is true Inflation Theory has more support than the authors of the essays realized at the time.

For most of the essayists, I've read their books for which they are going to write or have written at the time they wrote the essays. The essays cover the subject matter of their books fairly well, and you can save yourself from reading 25 or so books by listening to these essays. (The one exception is the essay by David Deutsch. He's talking about something beyond anything in his books).

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Fantastic!

Absolutely fantastic! This compilation of essays is written for the interested reader who need only have a thirst for knowledge. Some of the world's best scientists take the reader by the hand and *very* clearly explain the work being conducted in an attempt to answer some of life most important questions. The Edge's focus on inclusion has been sorely missing in the history of science education. Articles written for others who are in the same field are essential. That is a large part of what moves science forward. But, it often serves to exclude the public, and even other scientists who are not in the same field, from better understanding all of the breathtaking work in which various scientists engage. Each essay allowed the reader to take a tour of the many advances of the physicists who are most certainly on the edge. I have read so many books on the sciences. Without question, the author who has made science the most accessible is Sean Carroll (the physicist). He takes the most complex aspects of nature and unpacks them in such entertaining and accessible ways. His essay in this book follows suit and welcomes the reader into the cosmic universe(s) he has studies so rigorously. Even though he understands the universe more than the average person, in the end, he is left with more questions than answers and challenges the reader to think deeply about some of those unanswered questions. What I loved most about this book was that so many of the other scientists were able to convey their ideas in similar accessible ways. Lisa Randall wrote about extra dimensions. Neil Turok had a new take on the possibility of a cyclic universe. Andrei Linde told a particularly amusing story an encounter with Stephen Hawking. There was a great email exchange on the anthropic principles included in the book. The essays in first half of the book were particularly great. Each essay was informative and many were entertaining. I didn't love Quantum Monkeys, but that might just be me. All the essays were thought provoking and all challenged the reader to understand their place in the vast cosmos. Brockman pays tribute to Madnelbrot by concluding the book with his essay on fractals, one of my favorite subjects. Loved this book so much!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Santa Clara, CA, United States
  • 11-30-14

Physics in flux

Not written for laymen, but as physicist to physicist, this book outlines the future direction of physics—on both the subatomic and cosmological scales.
This is the kind of book that makes you want to live long enough to find out the answers to the fundamental questions that contemporary physicists are asking right now.
There's nothing "dumbed-down" about this book, and the topics are wide-ranging and fascinating. I won't claim to understand all of it, but that doesn't matter—it's really, really interesting, and well put together. We owe John Brockman a debt of gratitude for compiling this wonderful collection of perspectives on modern physics.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Really great, no fluff, to the point

I really enjoyed this book and will gladly need to listen to it again. The book delves right into the meaty topics of quantum gravity, the multiverse, and the origins of the universe. It presents a variety of competing theories as presented by the creators and their detractors. It's like a prolonged duel of minds and it's fascinating and very well put together. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Example Of Time Changing Understanding

Any additional comments?

These essays were published in 2014. Some were written before that however. It's a bit dated. The primary focus seems to be string the theory. That's all fine and a good review. What I kind of found interesting is the personal interactions between the physicists. How the internal workings of the science plays out. Some work gets recognized and others don't. It's an example of, 'it's not what you know but who you know'. The good news, the truth bubbles to the top no matter who presented it. It just might take longer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Skaneateles, NY, United States
  • 04-24-15

Too repetitive

The same thing gets repeated over and over. After the 5th time String Theory and Brane Theory was explained essentially the same way I bailed on this audio "book", which is actually a series of letters/essays. They all seem to cover the same topic in nearly the same way. Don't waste your money.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not for the layman

Far too complex and very disjointed. I do not recommend this book unless you have a PhD in physics

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent recopilation of scientific information

I really enjoyed the book all chapters are good and provide valuable information some of them gave me recommendations for further reading because they were truly interesting

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Fascinating

This book brings together a diverse group of individuals to discuss varying aspects of cosmology and physics and mathematics. It requires some background knowledge of these areas. Certain monographs such as constructor theory are somewhat easier to comprehend in a written format. Overall excellent book.

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TmBridge between physics and philosophy made clear

The compilation of ideas in this book definitely made the clearest bridge between philosophy and theoretical physics that I've known to date.

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  • V
  • 12-11-16

I am amazing!

Rather than getting you interested in the topics, many of the chapters just seem to be arguing that the author is right and oh so clever. I don't want to listen to self promotion.
Talk about your subject well enough and with passion and the audience is bound to see that on their own.
There are some very good chapters worth listening to, and some of the more author-centric ones have interesting ideas if you can disregard the childlish he-said-she-said, name dropping and validation seeking.