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Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond 1st Edition

32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0670033959
ISBN-10: 0670033952
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There are few scientific ideas as captivating as the notion that our universe might have other dimensions than the three (plus time) that we experience. Physicist Krauss offers an erudite and well-crafted overview of the role multiple dimensions have played in the history of physics. This isn't an easy book, even with a writer as talented as Krauss (whom some will recognize as the author of The Physics of Star Trek and Beyond Star Trek) serving as one's Virgil. Long on science and short on its connections with culture, the book is essentially an introduction to the physics and mathematics of extra dimensions with a few more or less disconnected chapters that touch on how these ideas show up in art and popular culture; there's more on brane-world and the ekpyrotic universe than on Plato's cave, whose inhabitants could not perceive reality in all its dimensions, or Buckaroo Banzai. Those who are willing to put in the requisite effort will be amply rewarded with a unique and impressive survey of scientists' astonishing and evolving understanding of the nature of the universe in all its visible and hidden dimensions. (Oct. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“An astonishing and brilliantly written work of popular science.” —Science a GoGo

“A brilliant, thrilling book . . . You’ll have so much fun reading that you’ll hardly notice you’re getting a primer on contemporary physics and cosmology.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (October 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670033952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670033959
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in New York City and shortly afterward moved to Toronto, spending my childhood in Canada. I received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from Carleton University, and my Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.

After a stint in the Harvard Society of Fellows, I became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1985 and Associate Professor in 1988. I moved in 1993 to become Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, professor of astronomy, and Chairman of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University In August 2008 I joined the faculty at Arizona State University as Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Director of the University's Origins Initiative. In 2009 we inaugurated this this initiative with the Origins Symposium [] in which 80 of the world's leading scientists participated, and 3000 people attended.

I write regularly for national media, including The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, Scientific American (for which I wrote a regular column last year), and other magazines, as well as doing extensive work on radio and television. I am strongly committed to public understanding of science, and have helped lead the national effort to preserve sound science teaching, including the teaching of evolution. I also served on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign science policy committee. In 2008 I became co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and in 2010 was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

I became a scientist in part because I read books by other scientists, such as Albert Einstein, George Gamow, Sir James Jeans, etc, when I was a child, and my popular writing returns the favor. One of my greatest joys is when a young person comes up to me and tells me that one of my books motivated them to become a scientist.

I believe science is not only a vital part of our culture, but is fun, and I try and convey that in my books and lectures. I am honored that Scientific American referred to me as a rare scientific public intellectual, and that all three three major US Physics Societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics, have seen fit to honor me with their highest awards for research and writing.

My research focuses on the beginning and end of the Universe. Among my contributions to the field of cosmology, I helped lead the search for dark matter, and first proposed the existence of dark energy in 1995.

When I have the chance, I love to mountain bike, fly fish, and scuba dive. I spend a tremendous amount of time on planes now, alas, and enjoy flying, but hate airports..

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Peter Woit on October 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished reading Lawrence Krauss's new book Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond, and it's very, very good. Scientifically, the book covers a lot of the same material as Lisa Randall's Warped Passages, but it's about half as long and has a wider perspective, with writing that is pithy and entertaining. Krauss's topic is not just the science of extra dimensions, but the history of various ways the idea has turned up in art and literature, and the whole question of why people find it so fascinating.

While they are ultimately concerned with the same speculative ideas about extra dimensions, Krauss and Randall's books are in many ways different. Randall is writing about her own research work, so on the one hand she is a partisan for these ideas, on the other she gets to tell the inside story of exactly how she came up with them. She goes to a lot of trouble to dig in and try and explain in as simple terms as possible the details of the physics that motivates this research, as well as exactly what it is trying to achieve, how it has evolved in recent years and where it seems to be going. Krauss also covers these topics, but is (justifiably in my view) more of a skeptic, and sets the whole story in a wider context of the long history of this kind of speculation. If you've read Randall's book, you should seriously consider reading Krauss for a different point of view. If you read Krauss and want a much more extended exposition on some of these topics, Randall is the place to go.

Krauss begins by telling the story of an episode of the Twilight Zone TV program that had quite an impact on him when he was very young.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Miller on July 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond, by Lawrence M. Krauss with glossary and index. Science popularized, but hard science, not soft or fanciful science. Since I have no physics or math theory this book was a challenge, but with concentration I was able to follow along. My reward was to gain a rudimentary comprehension of Einstein's Special and General Relativity theories, to gain some insight into "dimensions" as well as to understand what quarks, neutrinos and gravitons are. I'll forget it all, of course, but next time I hear of them an echo will remain that will enable me to know what's being talked about. I read this book in seven consecutive evenings. Krauss's lucidity, his occasional wry humor and tantalizing style made me catch the excitement. What will happen next? The description of string theories was indeed hairy, partly because these are still mathematical theories as yet unprobed physically and partly because they are frankly mind-boggling. The author, an eminent particle physicist (Case Western University) on the interface with cosmology, watered nothing down, nor did he once fail to distinguish between empirical and speculative. He places this book in the historical, cultural context of physics and cosmology.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By W. Horton on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Krauss' book is very good at explaining why the idea for an extra dimension or dimensions have existed, and how the reasons have morphed throughout the years. Although many valid reasons remain for there plausibility, he shows that there is so far, no such proof yet for their existence. He also shows that the latest attempt at explaining our universe through String Theory etc. and all the extra dimensions required by it, is only a mathematical construct that can only be accepted by faith, and a humongously willing mind to believe, in what's in other peoples imaginations. Not to say that there are no extra dimensions, but that, if there is no proof, then no amount story telling is going to make up the proof for it.
In his book, he shows that String Theory and all that is connected to it, is just the modern day version of "The Emperor's New Clothes". You have people with degrees saying that if you look hard enough, you can just make out the color of the suit, the fine style, and how well it looks on you. Krauss is one of the individuals to point out, "but look, he's really naked!" There really are no clothes.(proof) He very politely tries to explain this to you, when I think that secretly he would love to just yell out and tell you that String Theory is BS.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Doti on December 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an organic chemist with an interest in string theory ,I am pleased that there is some book to balance the speculation in some of the other books published on this topic.

Krauss appears to have written two books . The first part of the book is a dissection of the concept of other dimensions in popoular culture with references to the scientific developments of the time. The second part of the book is an inspection of work of physicists from Relativity to the development of string theory.

It appears that multi dimension models (26 dimensions ) were developed for the Strong Force unti newer theories were able to abrogate the use of them. Kaluza and Klein were able to develop a theory which Maxwell's equations drops out of Gerneral Relativity if one considers five dimensions. The effect of electromagnetism is actually residual gravity in these models.

So there appeared to be one model to develop Grand unification by invoking mutlitdinmensions.

String theory-the belief that matter is a closed loop of vibrating energy has been impressive as a 'first draft' Some of the theory appears to be a modern rehashing of Kaluza -Klein for for a theory of quantum gravity. However as a second draft there appears no closure and the theory appears to be getting more complicated while at the same time explaining less and less.While string theory is impressive in explaining Quantum gravity it appears to be reaching the dimensions of religion in that many of its claims can't be tested, predicts little such as the Hierarchy problem and other theories have unified the strong,weak and electromagnetic forces without subscribing to 11 dimenisional space as M theory requires.
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