"When we hand over the steering wheel to the mathematical underpinnings of the major proposed physical laws, we're driven time and again to some version of parallel worlds." - from THE HIDDEN REALITY
When I entered college and foolishly took over the wheel of the vessel "Engineering Major" that would presumably steer me towards my life's profession and gainful employment, I soon ran hard aground on the reef of Differential Calculus. It wasn't until I abandoned the wreck and transferred to the good ship "Life Sciences Major" that I safely arrived at where I am today. I've never gotten over that perilous time on the rocks. So, it was with some trepidation that I picked up THE HIDDEN REALITY by physicist Brian Greene. As an occasional buff of sci-fi lit, the concept of parallel worlds has always been of casual interest, but perhaps, with Greene's book, I was setting sail into dodgy waters once again.
Over the course of his discourse, the author discusses nine parallel universe, or "multiverse", concepts derived from the mathematics (as opposed to direct observations) of the Relativity, Quantum and String Theories: Quilted, Inflationary, Brane, Cyclic, Landscape, Quantum, Holographic, Simulated, and Ultimate. I'm not even going to attempt a further summary of the material as it would only invite ridicule and cause my subsequent humiliation.
The surprising fact is that I managed to make it through to the end, albeit clinging desperately by my fingernails to the edge of an event horizon such that I didn't fall screaming into the Black Hole of Total Bewilderment. This ultimate survival I attribute solely to Greene's skill at conveying the concepts without resorting to descriptive (to some) mathematical formulae. (Ok, ok, he threw out an E = mc2 equation once or twice, but anything heavier he relegated to the Notes at the end for interested numbers geeks. Suffice it to say, I didn't even glance at that section.) Rather, he illustrated key points with drawings and examples that can likely be appreciated by math-challenged readers such as me. Perhaps this is what makes him a best-selling author.
Now that I've finished THE HIDDEN REALITY, to say that I've a comprehensive grasp of the topic would be a mind-boggling overstatement. Were I to take a test on the volume's contents, I might manage a C-, and that's if it was multiple choice format and not essay. I consider this passing grade, rather than an F, to be a solid accomplishment attributable mostly to Greene's teaching skills. And though I've not read any other expert on the subject to whom I can make comparison, I suspect he's a much better teacher than most. Therefore, five stars for the didactic quality of his book. Don't look for any cheeky humor, though; Greene is no Bill Bryson of A Short History Of Nearly Everything
Now, if I go outside and gaze at the night sky perhaps visible through the Greater Los Angeles light reflected off the haze and/or smoke, I'll most certainly think to myself, "Wow, could there be more than one those?" One must always be open to a sense of wonderment.
And, in case you're curious, a "flop singularity" is a spherical portion of space compressed to an infinitesimal size.