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Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality [Kindle Edition]

Max Tegmark
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Our Mathematical Universe boldly confronts one of the deepest questions at the fertile interface of physics and philosophy: why is mathematics so spectacularly successful at describing the cosmos? Through lively writing and wonderfully accessible explanations, Max Tegmark-one of the world's leading theoretical physicists-guides the reader to a possible answer, and reveals how, if it's right, our understanding of reality itself would be radically altered (Brian Greene, physicist, author of 'The Elegant Universe', 'The Hidden Reality')

An amazing ride through the rich landscape of contemporary cosmology... Physics could do with more characters like Tegmark... an imaginative intellect and a charismatic presence (Clive Cookson Financial Times)

Product Description

Our Mathematical Universe is a journey to explore the mysteries uncovered by cosmology and to discover the nature of reality. Our Big Bang, our distant future, parallel worlds, the sub-atomic and intergalactic - none of them are what they seem. But there is a way to understand this immense strangeness - mathematics. Seeking an answer to the fundamental puzzle of why our universe seems so mathematical, Tegmark proposes a radical idea: that our physical world not only is described by mathematics, but that it is mathematics. This may offer answers to our deepest questions: How large is reality? What is everything made of? Why is our universe the way it is?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8424 KB
  • Print Length: 405 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307599809
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846144760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846144769
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,365 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Do you enjoy great detective puzzles? Do you like noticing small anomalies, and turning them into clues to an unexpected explanation? Do you like watching world-class scientists at work, piecing together insights to create new theories, and coping with disappointments when their theories appear to be disproved?

In the book “Our mathematical universe”, the mysteries being addressed are some of the very biggest imaginable:
*) What is everything made out of?
*) Where does the universe come from? For example, what made the Big Bang go “bang”?
*) What gives science its authority to speak with so much confidence about matters such as the age and size of the universe?
*) Is it true that the constants of nature appear remarkably “fine-tuned” so as to allow the emergence of life – in a way suggesting a miracle?
*) What does modern physics (including quantum mechanics) have to teach us about mind and consciousness?
*) What are the chances of other intelligent life existing in our galaxy (or even elsewhere in our universe)?
*) What lies in the future of the human race?

The author, Max Tegmark, is a Swedish-born professor of physics at MIT. He’s made a host of significant contributions to the development of cosmology – some of which you can read about in the book. But in his book, he also shows himself in my view to be a first class philosopher and a first class communicator.

Indeed, this may be the best book on the philosophy of physics that I have ever read. It also has important implications for the future of humanity.

There are some very big ideas in the book. It gives reasons for believing that our universe exists alongside no fewer than four different types of parallel universes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to meet your maker - Mathematics. 23 Mar 2014
By Shane
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If Max Tegmark is correct (and I have to say I think he *is*), we inhabit a universe that is just one of several hierarchies of multiverse that exist by virtue of the fact that they are mathematical structures. Not simply "describable" by mathematics, but that they fundamentally *are* maths. It's a conclusion that a lot of people have reacted against, and some of the implications are mind-boggling, but Max outlines his reasoning with wit and clarity in this very enjoyable romp between the physics of the Very Big to the Very Small and back to us humans. What is the meaning of Life? What *gives* meaning to the Universe? The ultimate answer is *us*, self-aware substructures within a larger mathematical entity, apparently evolving as the Schroedinger wavefunction through infinite-dimensioned Hilbert space, seeding clones at every quantum decoherence point, generating vast (infinite) numbers of parallel universes that are themselves part of this grander mathematical multiverse.

Max writes in an accessible and engaging style - it is clear that he is enjoying himself in coming up with his ideas (they seem to usually strike him when he's riding a bike (unlike a huge truck in Stockholm when he was a kid, fortunately for the Max in this universe) or walking in a park with one of his colleagues - in some ways these little biographical details add to the charm, and allow parallels to be drawn to the incredible writing of Richard Feynman.

That said, you can tell that Max knows this is an uphill struggle - many of his ideas strike deeply at some of the core notions we have as humans.
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The first part of this book tells the story of long ago and of the very small in the manner of a detective story. Tegmark tells us what needs explaining - what we can all observe or what scientists cab on serve - and how successively strong theories have pushed our knowledge forward. Clearly the field has made great progress since I last reed about these things and I find it hard to praise this part of the book too strongly - it was a gripping read for someone who knows as little as I did and left me feeling I understood the Big Bang, inflation, quantum physics and so on - which I found quite remarkable.

In the second part of the book Tegmark turns more philosophical. He sets out the view first that all properties of the world are mathematical properties. And the view that every mathematical possibility is a reality in some possible universe. I was left thinking this might be true or then again it might not. What I also felt was that there are very serious philosophical implications of the interpretation of quantum physics that Tegmark argues for - persuasively. If all the things that might happen to me do happen to me - in some world - and the question is simply 'what world am I in?' This might seem to raise some quite serious philosophical issues about the nature of the self. Not issues that grip Tegmark though...indexicals - I, here and now and so on - seem particularly worth thinking about further. I also wonder whether theories like natural selection through evolution hood is some of Tegmark's possible worlds but not others....

So I felt the first part of the book was great but the second part is less interesting...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very complex, some of the mathematics need only be ...
Very complex, some of the mathematics need only be partly understood to get the gist. One to keep and be re-read.
Published 4 days ago by Tilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Otherwise read it from the start for a good background induction
A must for anyone interested in the nature of reality. Depending on your knowledge of physics, you might want to skip the first 250 pages and get to the real meat, which is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by dannyh
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
A fascinating read, I can only recommend it
Published 2 months ago by Csongor
5.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics is everything
Max communicates his ideas and past research into various areas of mathematics and physics enthusiastically, which form the basis of this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Pollard
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing
He explains some of the most advanced ideas on the edge of physicists' understanding of the world we live in. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AlanCarlton
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting survey of science at its limits in decoding the universe
If big bold ideas give you a tingle of excitement you won't be disappointed. As a summary of science's current understanding of the weirdness that is wired into our universe (or... Read more
Published 3 months ago by andrew Bailey
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of its depth
The first part of this book is a readable guide to understanding physics and cosmology. Where it goes wrong is that the author gets out of his depth in trying to extend to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. G. Raggett
5.0 out of 5 stars love hate
when I first started on this book I loved it to pieces
then it got a bit trippy about multi verses and I hated it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. G. Hardy
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I cannot say I understand it but it is still very fascinating!
It also gives insights into the scientific world and how knowledge is evolving. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Cecilia Arvidson
3.0 out of 5 stars Written with conviction - but does it convince a reader?
After having read this book, I am convinced that the universe can be described by mathematics - but that I was already before. Read more
Published 4 months ago by arne
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