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The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos [Hardcover]

John D. Barrow
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 20, 2011 0393081214 978-0393081213

An unforgettable tour of the strange and wonderful universes that modern physics posits might-just might-be out there.

Einstein's theory of general relativity opens the door to other universes, and weird universes at that: universes that allow time travel, universes where you can see the back of your head, universes that spin and bounce or multiply without limit. The Book of Universes gives us a stunning tour of these potential universes, introducing us along the way to the brilliant physicists and mathematicians who first revealed their startling possibilities. John D. Barrow explains the latest discoveries and ideas that physics and astronomy have to offer about our own universe, showing how these findings lead to the concept of the "multiverse"—the Universe of all possible universes. New ideas force us to confront the possibility that our visible universe is a tiny region, governed by its own laws, within a Multiverse containing all the strange universes that could be—an idea that is among the most exciting and revolutionary in all of modern science. 112 black-and-white illustrations

Frequently Bought Together

The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos + The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World + Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Starred Review. A narrative laced with humor and poetry . . . mind-expanding.” (Booklist)

“A solid overview of the evolution of cosmology, with illuminating coverage of the current state of the art.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“As it turns out, exercising the brain cells in thinking about such matters is great fun, and The Book of Universes is an excellent place to start such an exploration.” (New Statesman)

“Entertaining and accessible.” (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John D. Barrow is a professor of mathematical sciences and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is known internationally for his research in cosmology and for his popular science writing. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081213
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #824,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Breed July 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is hard to beat as a broad survey of cosmology for the interested layman. Specialists, or graduate physics/astrophysics students will want something with more mathematical rigor and detail, but for those who have been regularly reading articles on cosmology and related fields in periodicals like Discover, Scientific American, and New Scientist, and have been exposed to informed glimpses into cosmology, this book gives a fuller, well rounded, well organized overview of the current state of cosmology -- for under $20.

Barrow's The Constants of Nature is very good, but Universes is much better.

Barrow starts with a survey of the cosmology viewpoints from Aristotle up to Schwarzschild circa 1915: some fanciful theories and some presaging modern theories in a naive sort of way. 1916 is the year Einstein introduced the theory of general relativity. Barrow's systematic yet understandable reviews of the various proposed solutions to the Einstein field equations, and the different universes implied, is a major strength of the book. The book is true to it name in giving clear explanations of alternatives: open, closed, flat, curved, expanding, collapsing and cycling universes that are solutions to the field equations. Due credit is given to the originators of the various models: de Sitter's universe, Friedmann's universe, Lemaitre's universe etc. The models are summarized in the chart put together by Ed (Ted) Harrison (page 73). I'd actually taken a cosmology course from Harrison in '66 or '67 at UMass -- he was an excellent lecturer. (I think there is some confusion in citing Ed and Ted as brothers - one at UMass and one at Arizona - but they are the same person.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars systematic, authoritative and very readable June 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an exceptional science book. Barrow is readable, he sprinkles his explanations with interesting insights and Notes, and helpful illustrations balance out every few pages. His chapters and subchapters provide topic headings which assist the reader build and remember an understanding of the concepts being explored. The topic, theories of the structure and history of the universe, may generally lend to Barrow's capacity to build a cogent, cursive and historically clear comparison of these theories but many notable authors fail to achieve such systematic discussion on this kind of topic. For many Amazon reviews, I have tried to put my finger on what is missing - no more, Barrow gets it right with titles and structure, with figures and notes used appropriately.

The universes, and multiverse, which Barrow explores are diverse, often related, and inspired by many philosophical (or not) perspectives. His explanation of anthropic universes is, as is to expected from a leading theorist in that area, excellent and his Euclidian example of the possible non-rigidity of the laws and constants of physics is one of the best going. I feared that the home-made universes and fake universes might be going beyond the science, but these pages were particularly rewarding and benefitted from Barrow's mathematical perspective - they were both entertaining and thought provoking.

Overall, this book is in many ways a focussed history of science. To his credit, Barrow does not avoid technical and mathematical explanations completely, but the reader is sometimes left to accept a complex premise or theory in good faith. I have found a few insignificant typos and while this does not detract, as a novice to many of the fields Barrow discusses, one can only hope there are no typos in the important stuff.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
*****
"It appears as though random processes have determined vital aspects of our universe, the matter anti-matter balance, the density of atomic matter, the strength and orientation of magnetic fields. ...For every mystery solved a new one is introduced. The Inflationary theory implies a universe of expanding bubbles, and not just one universe, but many universes." -- Robert Schaefer

My own first encounter with the expanding universe, came with my first reading of, 'The Mysterious Universe', by Sir James Jeans. Astronomy could only be advanced creatively during a critical period in human history, starting with Copernicus and culminating with the NASA programs and the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble imagery has both delighted and amazed people around the world and has rewritten astronomy textbooks with its discoveries. Edwin Hubble's discovery of an expanding universe presented cosmology with a key data point, a key to factual information, acquired from study of measurement. The expansion of the universe implied a beginning, a position developed in the 1940s by George Gamow and coworkers, now known as the Big Bang.

Observations and research reinforced this concept, and discerning the true position of quantum mechanics started to clarify the early moments following the initial explosion. In Dr. R Schaefer Logic, "For a universe to exist, it too needs an observer: the cosmologist. For any universe to be observed by a cosmologist, that universe must have expanded enough to link time and space, and must have expanded at a critical rate. If that universe instead expanded too fast, galaxies wouldn't form. If it expanded too slowly, it would condense into black holes instead of stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Barrow is the best of popularizes: He doesn't stoop to conquer.
Published 5 days ago by warren
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid and very worthwhile
Ever since viewing Prof. Barrow's "The Book of Universes" Gresham College talk on YouTube, I knew I had to get this book... I was not disappointed! Read more
Published 14 days ago by vic plichota
4.0 out of 5 stars Came fast. good condition.
I started this book form the library and had to have a copy. It was everything they said for a fair price.
Published 4 months ago by Benjamin D. Drobney
5.0 out of 5 stars Physics joke amidst a nice survey of universe models
One of my favorite science writers, Barrow traces thinking about the cosmos from Biblical authors to very recent scientists. Read more
Published 13 months ago by T. Schneck
3.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the Product Description
Well, I must admit to being of two minds about this book. At first, I was very disappointed with this book. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but tedious
The Book of the Universes is exactly what it says: John Barrow
describes the different mathematicians's models of the Universe which
follow from their solutions of the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Yuri
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book on cosmology
Very comprehensive description of the development of our understanding of the cosmos from the beginning of mankind to current state-of-the-art research. Read more
Published on June 4, 2012 by Lars Kellberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it is history of exploring....
..and creating models for our Universe throughout the ages.

I admire John Barrow. He always comes up with the new central concept that he uses as a foundation for... Read more
Published on April 23, 2012 by Regnal
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, informative, easy reading.
Really enjoyed going thru this book. You would need to go thru many books and reviews in order to get the information you get in this book.
Published on March 23, 2012 by Franciscope
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmology for Dummies
Best book I've read on cosmology and the new physics. Very readable. Comprehensive but didn't dwell overly long on any one topic. Read more
Published on January 16, 2012 by R. Golen
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