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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Audio CD – Unabridged, January 25, 2011
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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—Timothy Ferris, The New York Times Book Review“Few living writers write so lucidly about such complicated stuff. In
Greene’s prose, cutting-edge cosmology and particle physics become something a plucky and well-rested reader can apprehend. . . Greene might be the best intermediary I’ve found between the sparkling, absolute zero world of mathematics and the warm, clumsy world of human language.”
—Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe
“Mr. Greene has a gift for elucidating big ideas . . . Exciting and rewarding . . . [The Hidden Reality] captures and engages the imagination.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“It's impossible to summarize every step of Greene's balletic footwork, by which, like some multi-limbed Asian deity, he dances into being each different theoretical framework that could support multiple universes. . . His arguments are constructed like classical cathedrals, with intricate arches and buttresses that all uphold the central spire. Sometimes you think he's lost in the details of some sculpted gargoyle, only to realize how essential to the whole structure this particular feature is.”
—Paul di Filippo, Barnes and Noble Review
“[Greene] leads the general reader on an excursion to the farthest and most mind-bending reaches of speculative physics . . . An exhilarating—if sometimes vertigo-inducing—journey.”
—Alden Mudge, Bookpage
“An in-depth yet marvelously accessible look inside the perplexing world of modern theoretical physics and cosmology . . . Greene presents a lucid, intriguing, and triumphantly understandable state-of-the-art look at the universe.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (January 25, 2011)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 12 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0739383523
- ISBN-13 : 978-0739383520
- Item Weight : 11 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.1 x 1.13 x 5.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,890,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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Still it is interesting to see the direction being taken by some of the great names in Cosmology and Quantum Physics. While there is little chance that any of this material will be proven through experimentation in our lifetime, the consideration of such concepts fires the imagination and stimulates the creative mind to consider realms well outside the box of everyday thought.
is he deals with the possibilities of us being in a SImulation. (Look out, Twilight Zone!) Chapter 10 deals with the concept of what is reality -- since all is filtered thru our brains/senses -- what are we not seeing, or how are we seeing whatever is there? A case in point is the movie Thirteenth Floor, as well as Matrix, wherein the main characters are not dealing with 3D physical reality -- they have more of a SImulation, and this idea intrigues Dr Greene.
The application of the idea also intrigued the author of Virtual Earth Graduate and he (Hegland) goes into quite some detail in 2 chapters relating how Earth really could be a SImulation, albeit a very sophisticated one. And there are many physicists who are now saying the same thing about Earth and offer credible reasons for thinking thus... including Nick Bostrom.
While the idea sounds silly on the surface, one of Dr Greene's key points (there are several) is that physical constants of the Universe should not be changing -- the speed of light, the decay rate of radioactive material, C-14 dating, etc... and they are -- which would happen if we were in a SImulation whose 'envelope was being pushed' by the mathematical rounding errors that are beginning to (eventually) overwork the system, and Dr Green reminds us "Logic alone cannot ensure that we are not in a computer SImulation." (p 289). To really get a sense of this issue, one needs to see the movie Thirteenth Floor.
And if we are simulated, is the next level 'up' which drives our SImulation itself simulated? And then do we live in a SImulated Multiverse? And what happens when one of the simulations crashes? Dr Greene's book is fascinating in this regard. He also looks at the Double-slit Problem, Parallel Universes, Black Holes, Branes and Strings.
Dr Greene's other main point was that over time, with mathematics that is not carried to decimal points with infinite precision, there are going to be recursions of the same formulas and their outputs which will suffer rounding and approximations to the point where internal consistency is lost, sections of the SImulation would become incoherent, and the Simulation will crash -- is that what happened to the Maya back in AD 800 when they just all disappeared?
(See Virtual Earth Graduate for a better, longer review of this issue.)
Other physicists suggest that the Earth may be in a quantum computer running "qubits" and they theorize that just the Earth (not the universe) would be scalable to run within the memory confines of the largest computer that we can build nowadays... and all it would have to do is create just those scenes into which the ensouled human moves, suggesting as did JIm Elvidge in The Universe Solved that many humans would be Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) as in any VR Game. If this idea fascinates you, check out those books mentioned. Parts of the concept are not froo-froo and this gives cause to reflect...
In short, if quantum physics annoys you, or you just can't feature some of the strange postulates, then try Dr Paul LaViolette's Genesis of the Cosmos book -- he says that Subquantum Kinetics (using the ether) has better answers than does quantum physics with its Dark Matter...
The subtitle says the Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. All nine of the parallel universes are based on speculative physics. Some much more speculative than others.That these theories are speculative he admits throughout the book for which he deserves credit. However, in reading this book I got the feeling that this book was the long version of a grant proposal submitted to be funded. This comes about in the numerous places in which he says much has been done but give us more time to work on these ideas. Part of the reason is that some of the parallel universes he describe depend upon string/M-theory which is a controversial topic in physics. This is because in the 30-40 years of its existence, string/M-theories have yet to make any unique predictions that have been observed experimentally in support of these theories. The theory so far is not even falsifiable. Lee Smolin addresses these concerns in his book "Trouble with Physics" as does Peter Woit in his book "Not Even Wrong". The same criticism is also true for the multiverses that come from inflationary. cosmology. However, there are a large number of sharp physicists working in these areas so it is unclear what the future holds. Parallel universe's from Hugh Everett's thesis work on the interpretation of quantum mechanics, now known as the many worlds interpretation is another area of current research in physics and philosophy. This work is based on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. Greene suggests an experiment in the notes to test this theory, but it is unclear if this has been clearly thought out and if this experiment is even possible.
The discussion on computer simulated universes is interesting. It describes a universe similar to that in the movie "The Thirteenth Floor". While not a parallel universe in ways that physics suggests a simulated universe would make the ultimate computer game. A virtual reality that could absorb the programmers life into the simulation. Almost the ultimate drug. Live life to its fullest would have an additional impetus if you live in a simulated universe so that the creator of the simulation would not get bored with you and stop the simulation. However, since you can't prove that you are living in a simulated universe, do you need to live a life to satisfy the simulator? Interesting.
The final chapter entitled "The Limits of Inquiry Multiverses and the Future" is well written and makes an interesting conclusion to the book.
Top reviews from other countries
In Greene’s own words, “There was a time when universe meant all there is, but soon we may have to redefine that word, along with our own meager understanding of the cosmos.” And Greene’s expert guidance uses masterly metaphor and analogy to create a lucid and accessible account of some of the strangest and most revealing insights of modern physics.
He encourages the reader to abandon comfortable ways of thinking and to embrace unexpected realms of reality. From string theory to quantum mechanics, Greene describes the mathematical rigors and intuitive insight into the big bang and parallel worlds and universes, guided and confirmed by experimentation and observation to establish that space, time, matter and energy behave in ways any of us have ever witnessed. And as a result, physicists are facing the next upheaval in understanding the possibility that our universe is not unique.
I found The Hidden Reality much easier to comprehend after reading Greene’s previous books, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos. But nonetheless, The Hidden Reality is an accessible and surprisingly witty guide to parallel universes, a rare accomplishment in science writing for a popular audience.
Whilst Greene has the ability to translate the absolute zero of mathematics to intelligible human language, he also provides excellent footnotes and appendices for those with a mathematical inclination. This book is a perfect read for the casual but interested layman, and both scientists and mathematicians.
In citing: quantum mechanics, string theory and M theory the reader is drawn ever closer to the probable conclusion that our universe is merely one of many. In so doing Greene brilliantly raises questions about the empirical basis of science and proposes a paradigm shift from the classical physics approach of using equations describing physical laws, knowledge of the constants of nature and initial conditions to predict future outcomes with certainty.
Perhaps the most compelling argument for parallel universes, besides the fact almost all the most recently developed theories support it, is the manner in which it can potentially reconcile that most thorny issue of contemporary physics- how to reconcile the inherent weakness of gravity and its relationship with the quantum world. The extra dimensions implicit in M theory and the possibilities of string theory offer an exciting future solution to the gravity problem which has so far stood in the way of the holy grail of a theory of everything. Indeed so powerful are the arguments proffered by Greene here, the multiverse hypothesis is set to make the pursuit of such a theory obsolete. If ours is just one of many universes, the need to understand its constants becomes less significant. In a multiverse all possible universes exist with all possible ranges of cosmological constant, Higgs field strengths and atomic particle masses.
Greene uses metaphor and illustrations to great effect and is forensic in the piecing together of evidence to support his theories. For example he convincingly reconciles quantum wave theory with string theory in support of the holographic multiverse arguably the most perplexing of all the multiverse hypotheses.
Memorable discussions about simulated universes and whether we are currently part of such a reality also feature- enough to entertain P.K.Dick officianados. Greene latterly also reflects upon the consequences of multiverse theories for science as an empirical investigative discipline based on observations. He also cogently explores the power of mathematics as the basis of reality and its role in multiverse theory.
The book ranges from Newton and classical theory,through the difficulties in getting the maths to reconcile themselves with a unifying theory to an extreme theoretical position which can best be described as" In the beginning was the computer and the computer was Maths."
Greene is open on his position and doubts and despite the fact I suspect he is maths driven he is also prepared to debate the proposition which I, as a non mathematician hold, that if we can't understand or prove much of the theory then altering our perceptions of logic just so the maths works is a double edged sword. We don't understand and we created the maths which is at odds with what we can test and substantiate and it is quite possible that in a few hundred years our thinking will have evolved way beyond this.
A brilliant read, even for a non mathematical archaeologist.