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This fascinating book on cosmology straddles the worlds of science and science fiction, addressing questions like the nature of time, e.g. Can it run backwards?, multiple realities and the possibility of the multiverse or infinite universes. Part One, The Nature Of Reality, considers regions of the universe where time may run backwards, infinite realities, wave functions and matterwaves plus a stuff or entity called ortho-positronium. Part Two, The Nature Of The Universe, considers invisible galaxies, stars and planets, mirror matter, the interaction between ordinary and mirror matter, black holes and their significance in the model of the universe, the possibility of intelligent life creating a universe and even how to build a universe. Relativity, quantum physics, the ideas of Hoyle and Chandrasekhar and many others are involved in the speculations. Part Three discusses the likelihood of life on earth having been seeded from space, the comet connection, life as a cosmic phenomenon and the strong possibility of finding alien artefacts on the earth and the moon. The book concludes with a glossary of terms, a reading list with separate headings for Fiction and Non-Fiction and a thorough index. It is a stimulating and thought provoking read written in a manner that everyone can understand. I highly recommend it.
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on 17 February 2003
When I saw this in hardback, I thought it looked good. And it is! Very good. On the cover, Matt Ridley says Marcus Chown is the "finest cosmology writer of our day". I'd go one farther. He's the finest science writer of our day. There are some people who have a deep and profound understanding of science and there are some people who can write for the man-in-the-street. But rarely does anyone combine both these skills. Chown does. The exhilarating ride he takes you on - to the very frontier of science - will, I guarantee, blow your mind. When I finished Chown's book, I immediately ordered one of his others. And I can't remember when a book last made me do that.
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HALL OF FAMEon 23 September 2003
We sometimes need to be reminded that knowledge of our universe is gained through innovative thinking. Marcus Chown has rounded up a number of novel ideas, along with their originators and supporters. He presents these speculations along with their criticisms and defenses. Chown is careful to show why these novel ideas are worth considering and supporting the research in its quest for fuller understanding. If for nothing else, this book is valuable for introducing new concepts and why we should remain open-minded about scientific theorizing.
Chown's breezy style doesn't obscure his grasp of the sciences. He's conversant with the science and presents the radical views in a conversational format. Dividing the ideas into three sections, he begins with some fundamental issues in physics, relates some new ideas in cosmology, and examines facets of the anthropic principle. We learn of multiple dimensions tucked away in the depths of atoms. Are there other universes neighbouring ours, but with different properties? Are there maverick planets drifting through the universe, but with life present, sustained by internal heat? How did life originate on this planet - or did it truly originate here? There are many formidable mysteries involved, but Chown's ability in narrating them keeps their within our grasp. His description of Hoyle and Wikramsinghe's "panspermia" idea is one of the best summations available.
Chown has no illusions that these issues stand outside the mainstream of today's science. That is the point of his making this effort - embodied in his subtitle "the making of tomorrow's science". Bizarre ideas, he reminds us, doesn't mean that they're crazy. Science is full of the unusual. Many of the things we accept as "normal" today were unheard of even in our lifetimes. Someone pursued that "crazy" idea to give us things like personal computers or digital television. He understands how much research needs support, even when the issues don't appear "practical" for everyday life. Much work remains and he's encouraging anyone interested in pursuing fresh ideas. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on 5 June 2002
A very clearly explained book covering a breathtaking range of new theories in cosmology and science.
After 50 years studying and following physics his simple and elegant explanation of the second law of thermodynamics meant I really understood for the first time in my life !!
You find yourself just having to turn the page all the way through.
The ideas are well explained, including any basic physics you need on the way, yet his material is all from the cutting edge of sicence and cosmology.
If only all science writing could be this good !
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on 15 May 2003
The magic and wonder of science is not learning boring facts and figures, is is about becoming aware of the possibilities that exist in each and everyone of us. I'm a great fan of Marcus's work. His writing can and does inspire the man in the street. I should know, I left school at 14, with no knowledge of science. His books have inspired me - and that takes some doing. Now I'm doing a university degree and my life has changed.
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on 18 March 2004
A review on the back of Marcus Chown's earlier book, 'Afterglow of Creation', says - "Beautiful science, beautifully told". It could equally well apply to 'The Universe Next Door'. Unputdownable stuff.
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on 13 January 2002
These are incredible times for cosmology. If even one of these theories is true, expect to see pigs flying shortly. Apparently we're all going to live forever. Fing out why here. (Hint: the word "uni"verse is very misleading.) My advice: do not start reading this in the bath - you will emerge a cold, shrivelled prune.
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on 10 January 2009
I am a big fan of Marcus. He has a knack of making really quite unfathomable subjects accessible to the layperson. Having read some of his other books I looked forward to this one. I really enjoyed the subject matter(s) of his twelve 'mind blowing ideas' (I mean Many Worlds and Mutiverses - come on!) and learnt a great deal, however I got very irritated (hence the 4 not 5 star rating) by the incessant foot notes. Almost every page had a foot note where you were prompted to leave the main text and have some, usually obvious, matter explained to you which had been covered earlier on or in one of his other books. I would rather he had pitched it at an audience and let those who required more detail look it up on the internet rather than the constant digressions. Also, there were quite a few passages in this book that were the same, verbatim, from his other books. Feeling a little short changed. All in all though, a good read.
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on 16 October 2007
chown has to be one of the best science writers yet thrown up. i've read them all, and he seems to be the most readable, most digestable and least boring of them all. this book doesn't disappoint. there are chapters on the evolution of the universe, of the multiverses, of life, of the distribution of life etc. it's all highly speculative, of course, but it still makes fascinating reading.
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on 5 June 2008
This was the first Marcus Chown book i'd read and I was new to the subject matter, so the last thing i needed was an extremely complex heavy going science book, I am glad I got just the opposite! This book includes a plethora of minding blowing ideas currently held in high regard by todays most brilliant minds, and Chown disects each in his own open minded style which leads you to truly entertain each idea on it's own merits and remarkably each idea does have it's merits and any could very well be the true nature of reality. This book made me hungry for more and more knowledge in this field so be warned reading this book could be expensive as the amount of books you will want to purchase after will be remarkable!

Overall an excellent high powered physics/cosmology book with a wide open style full of ideas to blow your mind, enjoy!
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