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In Search of the Multiverse Hardcover – 27 Aug 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (27 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846141133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141133
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

There are parallel universes where you're the editor of Focus and where Buddy Holly is planning a comeback tour . . . Gribbin unpicks the science of parallel universes . . . and, in this universe at least, it's brilliant (BBC Focus magazine)

From the Inside Flap

Is our universe just one of many?

The most fascinating mysteries in modern physics seem to point us in that direction. As impossible as it seems--that other universes came before ours, float alongside ours, or even mirror ours--the evidence is surprisingly convincing.

In his most mind-blowing, sweeping work since Schrodinger's "Kittens and the Search for Reality," acclaimed science writer and astrophysicist John Gribbin takes readers "In Search of the Multiverse," launching an extraordinary journey to the frontiers of reality. Touching on the newest research on quantum physics, thermodynamics, string theory, and even the nature of God, this brilliant tour of the current state of cosmology also goes beyond the realm of settled science to the astonishing questions theoretical physicists have only now begun to ask.

Gribbin has long been known for his ability to explain even the most bewildering and complex ideas in the simplest of terms, and that skill is fully on display here. In this new book, he reveals why even the greatest thinkers can't explain the realities of quantum physics without bumping up against the unimaginable. He explores certain anomalies in our Universe that only make sense when you incorporate ideas that were once found only in science fiction. But which fantastical notion of alternate universes is the right one?

Gribbin guides you expertly through the competing Multiverse theories, who thought them up, and what problems they were hoping to solve with such outlandish ideas. You'll visit a realm of infinite space containing an infinite number of regions separated by infinite distances and ruled by different sets of physical laws. You'll drift along an infinite time line, on which different universes are strung out, one after the other, like beads on a wire. And you'll leaf through an infinitely thick book stuffed with an infinite number of pages: each page a different universe, existing in a different dimension--tantalizingly close together, but eternally unable to communicate with each other.

If our universe is three-dimensional and infinite, how could it be inside something else? Is it possible to travel to one of these alternate universes? Are particles traveling there every moment? How can scientists prove the existence of the Multiverse if they can't travel to it? Read "In Search of the Multiverse" and enter a world that is more mind-bending, thought-provoking, and imagination-sparking than the fantasy worlds you'd discover in a bookstore full of science fiction novels. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Gribbin is one of the best science writes around, but even he seems to struggle with this subject.
The normal run for a Gribbin book is:
summarise the history
explore the development through experiments
restate proofs
summarise how much we know now and give indications of future developments
but, the fact that this book is almost all hypothesis and theory leaves him and us high and dry.

I suspect somewhere there was an editor saying, "No Maths!" and unusually there is not one single diagram either, the book feels cheap and slightly rushed with no one having re-read it and ordered a final overhaul to help the flow of ideas going.
Gribbin himself admits in an afterward that this isn't quite the book meant to write and that it is more personal than usual. There is definitely more of him and his views in than normal, while this is not unwelcome per se, it is odd to hear the normally silent narrator making his preference for one or other theory heard.

Then there is the title `multiverse'. In actual fact, this book is about the Anthropic principal and new theories of the big bang(s) and whole manyverse beyond our Observable Universe that might exist. Multiverse, parallel worlds and quantum physics has about 40pages in a 200page book. Interesting stuff to be sure, but maybe not where you expect it to go given the title and the blurb.

Oddly, I ordered this at the same time as Susskind's Black Hole War but read Gribbin first as an entrée to what I thought would be the more challenging read. I didn't really think the subject matter would overlap as much as it does and for my money Susskind has a clearer exposition, even with the more difficult (outrageous?) ideas.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an interesting book.

Let's first dispose, perhaps, of 2 small complaints, which apply to all of John Gribbin's books: John's irrepressible habit to include largely irrelevant biographical data in his texts - as in, in this book, Quote his draft thesis, typed up by his gilrlfriend Nancy Gore, whom he married the following year unquote or "he was born in Washington DC, on 11 November 1930". Frankly - who cares? Another slightly grating habit is the belaboring of extremely elementary points - such as the author's constant reminders of what "10 the power N" means - anyone who would have difficulty grasping this, even if they extraordinarily enough did not know it yet, but nevertheless read popular science books - would surely have got it the first time!

Now for the gist of the book. The book is an overview and analysis of the current state of play in our search for understanding our Universe, either as a unique Universe or as one within a Multiverse of Universes - where our Universe is one of many (a more technical, and in some ways narrower, overview of learned opinions on the subject ranging from strong acceptance to strong rejection of the concept(s) of the Multiverse is to be found in the book 'Universe or Multiverse, edited by Bernard Carr)

John Gribbin's book shines in many ways, but leaves some questions hanging and IMHO does not go far enough in certain areas. Commendably, he cites Edward Tryon's work - a work that had been rejected out of hand by many eminent Physicists, because Tryon was way ahead of his time when he first described in the late sixties our Universe as the possible result of a rogue quantum fluctuation in a pre-existing environment.
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Format: Hardcover
Has John Gribbin found God? His latest mind-blowing description of cutting edge physics and quantum weirdness starts out conventionally enough (if any of this stuff can be thought of as being conventional) but ends up concluding that our universe is an artifact created by intelligent beings in another universe. The way he explains it, it all seems quite logical, even if along the way he espouses the "block universe" idea (which Einstein favoured) which says that all times are as real as all space, so that "tomorrow" and "yesterday" always exist, in the same way that New York exists even when you are not in New York. The difference is that according to Gribbin ALL possible tomorrows and yesterdays exist in the Multiverse!
Explaning all this involves quantum physics, thermodynamics, and string theory. But in Gribbin's skillful hands the process is quite painless and straightforward. If you liked his tale of Schrodinger's Cat, this is definitely for you.
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Format: Hardcover
Another well though out and researched book by John Gribbin that really shows how there are no clean cut lines on the fringes of science, on the outer most edges of the most macroscopic and microscopic parts of our universe there is not even a division between fact and fantasy. Loved this book and would have given it 5 stars but for 2 things,
1. Nomenclature is sometimes unclear or else several different schools of thought are describing the same thing but all with different names which makes it confusing,
2. Really needed a bigger chapter of John's own thoughts and conclusions at the end.
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