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Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes Hardcover – June 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0809095230 ISBN-10: 0809095238 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; 1st edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809095238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809095230
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cosmologists ask many difficult questions and often come up with strange answers. In this engagingly written but difficult book, Vilenkin, a Tufts University physicist, does exactly this, discussing the creation of the universe, its likely demise and the growing belief among cosmologists that there are an infinite number of universes. Vilenkin does an impressive job of presenting the background information necessary for lay readers to understand the ideas behind the big bang and related phenomena. Having set the stage, the author then delves into cutting-edge ideas, many of his own devising. He argues persuasively that, thanks to repulsive gravity, the universe is likely to expand forever. He goes on to posit that our universe is but one of an infinite series, many of them populated by our "clones." Vilenkin is well aware of the implications of this assertion: "countless identical civilizations [to ours] are scattered in the infinite expanse of the cosmos. With humankind reduced to absolute cosmic insignificance, our descent from the center of the world is now complete." Drawing on the work of Stephen Hawking and recent advances in string theory, Vilenkin gives us a great deal to ponder. B&w illus. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Cosmology has moved from establishing that there was a finite start to the cosmos to theorizing about the initial conditions that kicked off the whole shebang. Vilenkin is a leading theorist whose scenarios about the enigma of the big bang emerge in this estimably clear, personable treatment. Vilenkin explains the idea of inflation, a phenomenal increase in the volume of space in the first infinitesimals of time, propounded by physicist Alan Guth (The Inflationary Universe, 1997). Inflation solved some theoretical problems but left others dangling, such as inducing inflation to stop; if it didn't, life could not have begun. Explaining that his solutions to the "graceful exit problem," as it is whimsically called, involve the concept of "eternal inflation," Vilenkin guides readers through its bizarre and head-spinning propositions. One is that our observed universe is embedded in a suprauniverse that infinitely spawns an infinite number of other universes. This and other gigantic ideas concisely presented will provoke the interest of readers intrigued by the origin of the big bang. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Alex Vilenkin is best known for his theories of eternal cosmic inflation, creation of the universe from nothing, and for his groundbreaking work on cosmic strings. He has also studied the implications of the possible existence of multiple universes.

Born in the former Soviet Union, Vilenkin immigrated to the United States in 1976 with an undergraduate degree in physics and an employment history in his home country that consisted of succession of menial jobs, including a stint as a night watchman in a zoo. Within a year of his arrival in US he had earned a Ph.D., and the following year he joined the faculty at Tufts University, where he remains today as a professor of physics and director of the Tufts Institute of Cosmology. He also holds the L. and J. Bernstein Chair in Evolutionary Science.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The writing style is very entertaining.
Kyle G. Maxwell
The author, Alex Vilenkin, is a leader in todays cosmogony but presents his ideas in non technical non mathmatical easy to understand way.
Robert G. Ellis
This splendid book is well understandable for laymen and also highly recommendable for more advanced readers.
Ruediger Vaas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By t.g. randini VINE VOICE on July 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As the title of my review suggests, this is simply superb. Mr. Vilenkin SIMPLIFIES... and of the thirty or so books I've read on cosmology, this is at or near the top.

The author covers much ground and does it efficiently. He lays the groundwork for his theories and takes us through the logic he employed in arriving at his 'quantum-tunneling out of nothing' theory to explain the origin of our 'local island universe'.

Mr. Vilenkin ably covers vacuums, inflation, scalar fields, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, the multiverse and even Euclidian time. If you don't understand all these concepts... DON'T WORRY. You will understand them after reading this delightful book.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Edward A. Oates on July 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read lots of accessible physics and cosmology books, and this is one of the best. There is essentially no math to master, but the concepts will make your head hurt (at least philosophically) while you absorb it all. This book has done the best job I've seen yet at explaining inflation in simple terms and how it might have taken only a few grams of matter/energy to create everything. (for a more detailed look at inflation, see one of Alan Guth's books on the subject, since he invented it).

I would recommend this book to adults who want to explore current cosmological thinking; I would strongly recommend this to advanced high school students (along with "Beyond Einstein" by Michio Kaku and Jennifer Trainer Thompson) as an adjunct to their physical science and AP Physics studies. It is readily understood and can awaking a lifelong quest to answer the question, "How did we get here?"

The "Why are we here?" question I'll leave to philosophers and theologians.

Ed
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joshua G. Feldman on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alex Vilenkin is a real physicist and he's been at the cutting edge of cosmology research so it's no surprise that he has a solid grip on the theoretical underpinnings and major issues and problems facing modern cosmology. What's unexpected is that he is such a fluid and comprehensible author. Dr. Vilenkin writes beautifully - with humor, vision, impeccable organization - and great mercy for the layman. He spares us the math, but gives us a real mental picture of the issues at play. This is a great review and explanation of the modern scientific picture of the creation of the universe.

And what a picture it is. Exotic states of vacuum engendering faster than light expansion; infinities contained in bubbles inside finite spaces; multiverses with endless variations in the laws of physics, most inhospitable to life. We see the history of the subject from Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton up through Einstein and into the modern period. We get a great view of how Guth's expansion theory resolves a host of problems and suggests, tantalizing, the nature of the stuff that gives birth to our universe (higher energy false vacuums). Much of the resulting weirdness comes about as consequences contingent on expansion. There's a great explication of the cosmological constant and how the recent observational proof of it shatters particle physics independence from the anthropic principle (the notion that our presence here as observers is evidence that must be used to help gauge odds in a scenario of multiverses in which only some outcomes are hospitable to life such as ourselves. I find myself thrilled by these ideas and enthralled that Vilenkin gives me the impression that I'm really following along.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kyle G. Maxwell on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be extremely readable and surprisingly well translated into language and ideas that could be understood by those with little or no background in cosmology. The writing style is very entertaining.

But I caution curious readers that even though this book is so approachable it still covers a great deal of modern cosmology so it is by no means a light read. As was mentioned in another review one aspect of the writing style is confusing. Since so little of cosmology is experimentally proven there often exist conflicting views. Vilenkin does a good job of covering most of them, but for an unexperienced reader it can be confusing which theory he wants you to believe.

Overall the book is a great read to qualitatively cover modern cosmology and if it is confusing at first it is well worth a re-read or closer inspection for those who want to understand the finer details.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ruediger Vaas on July 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are not many popular science books that open up an entirely new world-view, one that is both fascinating and irritating. Although there are lots of good books about cosmology, quantum physics, and the (possible) beginning and end of the universe, this one is unique: It doesn't simply repeat the well-known facts and fictions, but explains the dramatic developments in theoretical cosmology during the last two decades, which are not covered elsewhere (or only briefly and often in a misleading way), including some of their eminent philosophical implications.

Alex Vilenkin, one of the leading and most creative researchers of our time, delivers first-hand insights from his own work and that of his friends and colleagues (altogether a veritable Who Is Who in cosmology: Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, Andrei Linde, Alexei Starobinsky, Paul Steinhardt, Steven Weinberg and many more).

Vilenkins book covers topics like the scenario of cosmic inflation (an exponential expansion of space), the origin of matter and the seeds for galaxy formation at the end of inflation, our observable universe as a tiny part of a bigger universe which is only one of a myriad of other island universes within a still inflating "false vacuum", the possibility of different laws and constants of nature ruling those other universes, the disturbing implication of REAL "parallel universes" with all possible alternate histories and also infinite numbers of fully identical "copies" of each of us, the strange issue of the cosmological constant and its "anthropic" (i.e.
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