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on 15 July 2012
I bought this book as I was interested in both general relativity and the quantum and, having read several books on the subject, I was keen on the 'why' rather than just the 'what'. This book was perfect in that regard; it is the most thought-provoking book I've read on the subject and hugely convincing. It is an attempt to derive and interpret physical theory from the bottom up (from easy to understand principles) rather than the usual 'top-down' approach. Thomas takes as his starting point the basic principle that 'there is nothing outside the universe' and from this convincingly derives, by way of simple analogy, an astonishing amount of both quantum and relativity theory. I have a physics degree from many years ago and was delighted to see stuff I'd learned because I had to spring out from basic principles. I'm not qualified to decide the scientific merit of the book's theme but I found it genuinely moving and utterly fascinating. For me it's the best book I've read on the subject. One of those books you think about for a long time afterwards.

Some details: only one equation in the book and this used only as a demo, you don't need to know any maths. Of the many analogies in the book, only one or two I found a bit vague - reading on sorted that out. Lastly, the author's website, quoted in the references, has some great material in the same vein.

Finally, the author has nothing to say about the subject of a God, but while reading this book, the subject sprang to my mind many times. To find so much necessity emerging from the assumption that the universe is all that exists drives the reader to consider more than just the physics. Read that whichever way you will! 10/10 - I'd have paid a lot more for this.
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on 15 August 2012
This book makes some thought provoking claims and contains a number of well written explanations of physical concepts and their history and is therefore reasonable value for money. However these intervals of clarity are overwhelmed by a lot of loosely constructed and diffuse discussion, with no clear path between founding 'in plain sight' principles (the universe is 'one' and there is only 'one universe') and the conclusion (linking/unification of QM and Relativity).

The author's stated foundational principles are not new and have been (still are) seriously considered and applied by a number of theoretical physicists to better quantitative effect. (L.Smolin for example, as the author himself notes. e.g. see [arXiv:1104.2822v1] )

The author's remark that the book "... contains no equations, or new, testable predictions" is apt. He claims that this is because it is a unification "in principle, in much the same way that several unifications ... are described by a principle rather than an equation". However, every true unification principle in the history of physics was expressed in, or gave rise to, a mathematical form that gives it objective and testable meaning!!

Galilean Equivalence, for example, requires mathematical equations for the Galilean transformation of space-time coordinates, allowing one to prove explicitly that (e.g.) Newton's laws are, in fact, invariant under such transformations between inertial systems (and Einstein to see that Maxwell's equations are not so; ergo the Lorentz transformation, Relativity and the overthrow of Newton's absolute Space and absolute Time).

Founding principles in the absence of mathematical form, connected to physical observables, are ultimately useless I'm afraid. In the immortal words of W.Pauli, this work is "not even wrong"!
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on 1 December 2012
The scientific advances of Newton and Einstein were based on essentially very simple ideas. Newton had his apple and Einstein rode on the edge of a beam of light. And from these simple ideas arose profound new understanding of our Universe.

Andrew Thomas makes a bold claim to a similarly incisive idea. He claims to reconcile the persistently inconsistent concepts of relativity and quantum mechanics with a simple bottom up approach to the construction of the Universe. Put simply, if one considers the basic idea that "The Universe contains everything and there is nothing outside the Universe" then everything we need can be developed from there.

The idea is interesting and he develops it well. But the thing about Newton and Einstein was that their simple ideas rapidly spawned some very strong and very predictive mathematics. Andrew's idea does not achieve this. Indeed it does not even re-invent any of the models we already have. None of the terms of the Standard Model are predicted and there is still no suggestion of how we may introduce gravity into that model.

What Andrew's concept does is offer a view of the Universe that makes relativity and quantum mechanics appear more natural and less fundamentally counter-intuitive than they normally appear.

I do not claim to go along with all of his arguments. For example, the idea that the Universe cannot sit in any external frame of dimensional reference (the Universe does not exist inside a box - how could it - nothing can be outside) requires that objects are separated from each other by something he calls a metric field. Okay, I sort of follow that idea. However this is then put forward as a justification of the gravitational field - the curved space-time defined (discovered?) by Einstein. I'm sorry, but that is too much of a leap for me.

"Hidden in Plain Sight" places itself in the genre of Popular Science. However I would suggest that it strays well into the philosophy camp and offers nothing new to physics. It definitely suggests nothing in how we may advance our experimentally tested view of the Universe. What it does do is present a view which may help some of us reconcile the un-reconcilable when struggling with the uncomfortable vision that modern physics promotes as reality.

A very readable book, but it is philosophy not physics.
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on 26 January 2014
I am 70 years old, with my mathematics limited to those of one with a degree in Electronics. Before dying I would love to know as much as possible about how the Universe works and have read as widely as possible, given my limitations, on Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Regarding Quantum Mechanics, QCD, and QFT my very humble opinion (it has to be very humble,given my lack of the required mathematics ) has been that the Mathematical and Physics genii who have come up with our picture of the Universe have ,for all their theoretical brilliance, and maybe blinded by it, taken leave of their common sense. I should say that relativity is not too bad given the help through the mathematics given by books by Peter Collier and Lillian Lieber.

This book gives what appears to be a more sensible approach to both Relativity and Quantum Physics. I have no idea how good , or original, a physicist Andrew Thomas is but It would be very interesting to hear the opinions of some of the mathematicians and physicists of the class of Susskind, Witten , Hawking etc . of Thomas's approach. Maybe his approach is correct and we therefore lose some of the more fanciful and unfalsifiable ideas that have come out of modern physics.

My hunch is that if Thomas's views are original, this book may be worth a Nobel prize. Whether or not this is true it is a very understandable and interesting read. Full Marks !! Now all we want is someone to demolish the wasteful bastion of string theory. Peter Woit and Lee Smolin have certainly weakened the foundations of this edifice.

String theory may one day be proved correct but until technology exists to probe it experimentally then my own feeling is that the vast amount of effort expended on it is wasted.
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on 7 October 2015
I found Dr Thomas’ premise – i.e. ‘the universe is the only thing that exists’ - somewhat intriguing to begin with, however as I ploughed further in I became increasingly sceptical.
He seems to have arrived at his conclusions with an abject lack of mathematical evidence – none that has been presented or even alluded to within the pages of his book, at least.
Also he seems to be wantonly dismissive of the increasing weight of evidence from various branches of theoretical physics, which suggests that there is in fact way more beyond the bounds of our particular universe than we can possibly conceive; this has been the subject of much vigorous research and number-crunching for several years now, and in this reader’s opinion should not – indeed, cannot - be so lightly cast aside. Having read books by other prominent theoretical physicists, e.g. Susskind, Greene etc, I find myself to be much more convinced by their arguments which actually do have some supporting maths behind them.
Finally I found it to be unnecessarily long-winded and repetitive, as another reviewer has stated this could have been whittled down to a much more concise volume in order to arrive at the main point a lot sooner.
I was considering reading the other books in the series (by the same author), but after being somewhat disappointed by this one, I’m not so sure I will bother now.
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on 15 April 2013
An interesting take on the decoherence response to the problem of measurement in quantum theory.Unfortunately the book is marred by a logical howler (p.27)
Thomas argues that a universe with nothing outside itself will lead to relativity being true ...relativity IS true therefore the universe has nothing outside it/is all there is.But this is a simple fallacy of reasoning called affirming the consequent.eg if it rains my car will get wet..my car is wet therefore it has rained!!??(my car may have just gone through the car wash etc)Thomas now uses this "finding" in almost all of his subsequent arguments to link quantum theory and relativity...oh dear!!
The book is still worth reading though...although his logic is fallacious his conclusion MAY still be right!!(but I doubt it)
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on 17 December 2016
"Andrew Thomas studied physics in the James Clerk Maxwell Building in Edinburgh University, and received his doctorate from Swansea University in 1992." Is it just me, or does that sound like someone who's not being entirely straightforward about his background in the subject? I mean, what relevance does the *name of the building* have to anything, other than hoping that some of Maxwell's prestige might rub off on him?

Presumably if he had a bachelor's degree in physics from Edinburgh and a doctorate in physics from Swansea, he'd say just that. The fact that he phrases it in such an elliptical way makes me suspect that he doesn't have either of those degrees, but would like to give the impression that he does. Now, of course, you don't *have* to have formal qualifications in a subject to have something worthwhile to say about it, but being less than entirely honest about your qualifications doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

I thought the book had some interesting-sounding ideas in it, but it's all a bit vague and hand-wavy, so I doubt we'll be seeing Dr Thomas receiving his Nobel prize any time soon.
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on 7 December 2012
This is an interesting philosophical look at the unification theory of the large scale and the quantum scale. It is well written and leads you through the authors thought processes in a easy and clear way and avoids all of the complexity of the mathematical proof which would be required to justify the claims..

Much of the book works to show that the universe we live in is a closed environment and that the parallel universe is purely there to justify the complex mathematics, which isn't shown in the book, of other proofs currently being worked on. The philosophical argument is powerful and well argued, however the proof is purely a thought process and makes one think of which proof do I like and whether we are living in a single universe or is there something else like a parallel universe out there.

My final thought when closing the last page was, is the author a religious man and trying to justify a god creating a universe or is this a scientist who is unhappy with the lack of evidence in the current proofs which are causing the invention of parallel universes just to justify the mathematics because they break down without these grand ideas. His argument for relative measurement is powerful but does not touch how the universe begins and why inflation is required to justify the mathematics of current proofs. I am still thinking about this.

This is a book which I don't regret reading and it has made me think.
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on 2 July 2014
Couldn't put it down, so that's a good sign. Perhaps I know more about this subject than I give myself credit for, as I totally got this book. He says it himself, Its almost to simple to be taken as gospel, but his repetition of basic ideas throughout the book is always welcome, and I never said "why are you mentioning that again?" Nothing is mentioned as a history lesson. Its all necessary to the final chapter.

Even though this isn't a massive book, but its a tiny price, and worth every one of the 99 pennies. As i started this review, perhaps I know much more than I credit myself for, and some massive subjects are just mentioned, of reiterated in this book. Perhaps an ideal reader is someone who has been reading this stuff for years and needs the lot pulling together in one folder.

This book did just that for me. If you dont have this knowledge, I guess you may not get his basic theory of how relativity and quantum physics are fully related brothers....not just good friends.

Well....I just went straight on Amazon and bought the second book, the same night I finished the first.....and I didnt do that with sprouts....so hey...must be good.

Enjoy...I did!
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on 12 August 2012
"Hidden in Plain Sight" is an interesting read. In many years of reading popular science books, this is the first I think I can say (on these subjects) that I completely understood. As a non physicist and non-mathematician, this is not an endorsement of the argument, which I am unqualified to give, but it is an endorsement of the quality of explanation.

The central argument, that relativity and QM are actually much more alike than is generally thought - and that we would do better to concentrate on the similarities rather than being awestruck by the apparent oddities of both - seemed to me to make a lot of sense. That the book contains no mathematics is no drawback in my view, as I would be unlikely to benefit from it anyway.

The final verdict, of course, must come from those who do understand the mathematics and I would be interested to hear what actual physicists have to say about it. They may well say that the argument is dead wrong, or correct , but obvious. Yet if it is obvious, I do not recall encountering it elsewhere. "Plain sight" indeed.

At any rate, the book is eminently readable and well worth far more than the Kindle price.
If you are interested in a non-mathematical and rather unusual look at this subject, for less than the price of a bar of chocolate, I strongly advise you to give it a shot.
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