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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos [Hardcover]

Brian Greene
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jan 2011
From the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos comes his most expansive and accessible book to date—a book that takes on the grandest question: Is ours the only universe?

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 math.

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. And, with his unrivaled ability to make the most challenging of material accessible and entertaining, Greene tackles the core question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach?

Sparked by Greene’s trademark wit and precision, The Hidden Reality is at once a far-reaching survey of cutting-edge physics and a remarkable journey to the very edge of reality—a journey grounded firmly in science and limited only by our imagination.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group (25 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307265630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265630
  • ASIN: 0307265633
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.1 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,847,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Brian Greene's book The Hidden Reality is a tour de force of one of the most controversial areas of modern science - the possibility that there are multiple universes... Greene's ability as a populariser has matured with each new publication and this latest offering is his best yet (Alastair Gunn Sky at Night ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Brian Greene is well known to many fans as a populariser of theoretical physics. He is the author of the bestselling books about string theory, The Elegant Universe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and The Fabric of the Cosmos. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he has taught at both Harvard and Cornell and has been Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University since 1996. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 19 Mar 2011
By Niki Collins-queen, Author TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Brian Green's fascinating book "The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep laws of the Cosmos" is about a growing body of work that is steadily converging around a proposal that our universe is actually one of many universes. He admits that the subject of parallel universes is highly speculative. No experimentation or observation has been established. The point of the book is not to convince us. Its intention is to lay out the intellectual steps and the chain of theoretical insights that led physicists from a range of perspectives to consider the possibility that ours is one of many universes.
He says some people recoil at the notion of parallel worlds. They feel it marginalizes our place and importance in the cosmos. Green's take is different. What matters is whether there exists exciting realms that challenge convention by suggesting what we thought to be the universe is only one component of a far grander mostly hidden reality. The journey so far takes us through nine variations of the multiverse theme - the Quilted, Inflationary, Brane, Cyclic, Landscape, Quantum, Simulated and Ultimate. Each envisions our universe as part of an unexpectedly larger whole, but the complexion of the whole and the nature of the member universes differ sharply. Some are separated by enormous stretches of space and time, other hover millimeters away, in others the very notion of their location proves parochial, devoid of meaning.
Over the course of five centuries we've had to give up our belief in the earth's centrality among our cosmic neighbors, the sun's centrality in the galaxy, the Milky Way's centrality among the galaxies, and even the centrality of protons, neurons and electron in the cosmic recipe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Following up his two previous bestsellers, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, Columbia University Professor of Physics and Mathematics Brian Greene has carried on in his attempt to enlighten the lay reader to leading edge developments in scientific research into the deepest mysteries of both the micro-world and the macro-world of not only our own universe, but other universes that may exist beyond our current ability to contact them.

Including 30 pages of notes, mostly for the more technically inclined, an extensive index, and using metaphor, analogy, historical anecdotes, and a touch of humour, Professor Greene looks at the latest theoretical thinking and experimental analyses to give, as he says in the Preface, "...a broadly accessible account of some of the strangest and, should they prove correct, most revealing insights of modern physics. Many of the concepts require the reader to abandon comfortable modes of thought and to embrace unanticipated realms of reality."

What spurred Greene to give us an up-to-date account of developments in fundamental theoretical physics is that they have led investigators to the serious consideration of different types of parallel universes. In the book, he identifies 9 varieties of what are called "multiverses." And, what is so amazing to Greene and to his colleagues around the world is that "...all of the parallel-universe proposals that we will take seriously (in the book) emerge unbidden from the mathematics of theories developed to explain conventional data and observation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Reality 7 Mar 2013
By Micki B
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not an academic, just a regular Joe interested in reading about ideas being considered by those who are, and enjoyed the book very much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Rick
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Slightly lacking in detail around versions of string theory and little detail on M-theory but these are covered in much greater detail in his previous books. I would highly recommend both.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The strength of this fine book lies in the meticulous manner in which the author systematically builds the evidence necessary to convince even the most sceptical reader to at least think seriously about the concept of parallel universes. Just as Copernicus overturned the anthropic solar-centric universe model, Greene draws upon the mathematics of the most recent developments in physics, all of which support the existence of a multiverse of which our own is far from unique.

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 days ago by enchantment
5.0 out of 5 stars Damn
This book makes the universe so simple, so open and fascinating :) Truly Greene makes everything simple to understand and you find yourself re-examining everything
Published 4 months ago by Danny
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating...
I read this having just finished 'The Elegant Universe' - Greene's fantastic first book on string theory. This is not as good as that was, but that really isn't saying much. Read more
Published 7 months ago by chez198
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with thought provoking cosmoslogy
I read this as part of my participation in a science book group. It's quite an intense read. I could only manage a few pages at a time, making notes as I went.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs A Cuthbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Book about everything cosmic and stringy
I love this guy - So clever - I can't wait for his next book - I do hope he gets time to write one - he's getting to be quite a star in his own right and well justified too... Read more
Published 8 months ago by oceanade
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination & science
This book really spirals your imagination on what the universe might be like, and best of all, any of the spectacularly amazing possibilities might be true, we just don't know... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Fialka
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read.
Well written and worth including in your library of books on particle and astro physics. I'd highly recommend It to anyone.
Published 12 months ago by Shak224
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I consider this to the most readable and wide ranging book that Brian Greene has written and struggle to understand some of the comments slating it for being too theoretical and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nicolas Milne
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as his previous books
The way that the author illustrates concepts using mainly USA culture and locations/dogs/aliens is poor for European readers. Read more
Published 19 months ago by morwr
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on as usual
I am only half way through this book - but so far so good. I have Greene's other books and can honestly say that Greene writes very clearly yet perceptively without any egomaniac... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Ronald Baskin
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