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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos [Kindle Edition]

Brian Greene
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $10.34
You Save: $6.61 (39%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos comes his most expansive and accessible book to date—a book that takes on the grandest question: Is ours the only universe?

There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, in recent years discoveries in physics and cosmology have led a number of scientists to conclude that our universe may be one among many. With crystal-clear prose and inspired use of analogy, Brian Greene shows how a range of different “multiverse” proposals emerges from theories developed to explain the most refined observations of both subatomic particles and the dark depths of space: a multiverse in which you have an infinite number of doppelgängers, each reading this sentence in a distant universe; a multiverse comprising a vast ocean of bubble universes, of which ours is but one; a multiverse that endlessly cycles through time, or one that might be hovering millimeters away yet remains invisible; another in which every possibility allowed by quantum physics is brought to life. Or, perhaps strangest of all, a multiverse made purely of math.

Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a captivating exploration of these parallel worlds and reveals how much of reality’s true nature may be deeply hidden within them. And, with his unrivaled ability to make the most challenging of material accessible and entertaining, Greene tackles the core question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach?

Sparked by Greene’s trademark wit and precision, The Hidden Reality is at once a far-reaching survey of cutting-edge physics and a remarkable journey to the very edge of reality—a journey grounded firmly in science and limited only by our imagination.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011: Take any of physics' major theories of the fundamental nature of the universe, extrapolate its math to the logical extreme, and you get some version of a (so far unobservable) parallel universe. And who better to navigate these hypothetical versions of the "multiverse" than Brian Greene? Normally an unflinching apologist for string theory, the bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos here treats all viable alternate realities to a laudably fair shake. For a book exploring the most far-reaching implications of bleeding-edge mathematics, The Hidden Reality is surprisingly light on math, written as it is "for a broad audience … its only prerequisite the will to persevere." Such perseverance pays off with a motley cast of potential universes featuring doppelgängers, strings, branes, quantum probabilities, holographs, and simulated worlds. The result is that rare accomplishment in science writing for a popular audience: a volume that explains the science and its consequences while stimulating the imagination of even the uninitiated.  --Jason Kirk

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "There was a time when ÿuniverse' meant ÿall there is,' " writes Greene, but soon we may have to redefine that word, along with our own meager understanding of the cosmos. A theoretical physicist and celebrated author, Greene offers intrepid readers another in-depth yet marvelously accessible look inside the perplexing world of modern theoretical physics and cosmology. Greene's book The Elegant Universe explained late 20th-century efforts to find a unified theory of everything, culminating with string theory. But string theory opened up a new can of worms, hinting at the possible existence of multiple universes and other strange entities. The possibility of other universes existing alongside our own like holes in "a gigantic block of Swiss cheese" seems more likely every day. Beginning with relativity theory, the Big Bang, and our expanding universe, Greene introduces first the mind-blowing multiplicity of forms those parallel universes might take, from patchwork quilts or stretchy "branes" to landscapes and holograms riddled with black holes. With his inspired analogies starring everyone from South Park's Eric Cartman to Ms. Pac-Man and a can of Pringles, Greene presents a lucid, intriguing, and triumphantly understandable state-of-the-art look at the universe. Illus. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 2566 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43ETO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,157 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
502 of 521 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Brian Greene's previous books are exemplars of what science writing should be: clear, wide-ranging in discussion and respectful of the intelligence of his audience. The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos are two of my three favorite popular science books. The third, Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps, is another superb example of science writing at its best. Now Brian Greene has added another masterpiece to the list. Everything that distinguishes Greene's writing style is in evidence in The Hidden Reality. His elegant prose is enjoyable to read. His brilliant ability to explain difficult abstract ideas in everyday language using easily understood examples still amazes me. And his use of vivid word pictures that always seem perfectly matched to the topic he's discussing propels his narrative forward so that the reader is never bored.

Yes The Hidden Reality is more accessible than his previous books. This book seems easier to read and is readily understandable. In his earlier books, I often read a paragraph several times in order to fully comprehend what Greene was attempting to communicate. That is something science and math majors are used to doing when reading textbooks but difficult for those not as scientifically adept. Greene's first two books dealt with Quantum Mechanics, String Theory and Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity: vast math-intensive topics that he was able to distill masterfully. The Hidden Reality inhabits a more abstract world, a conceptually challenging world. I quickly found Greene's more casual approach extremely helpful, even comforting, when I felt slightly adrift.
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227 of 241 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult- but rewarding. January 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Beginning in the 16th Century, physics started to change from a purely scholastic mode of inquiry, in which questions were answered by argument from first principles and ancient authority, into a scientific one, in which observation and mathematical law predominated. With the introduction of Newton's work and his (and Leibniz') invention of the calculus, physics became a modern science, in which mathematics played a key role not only in testing theories, but in predicting phenomena as well. Even so, it was still possible for the non-scientist to understand much of the work of physicists, as it still dealt (for the most part) with laws and phenomena that could be observed, experienced, or at least imagined with the average person.

With the advent of relativity and quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, this all changed. Special Relativity dealt with velocities far beyond that which any human could ever experience. General Relativity dealt with interactions on a cosmic scale. And quantum mechanics dealt with scales far smaller than that which could be experienced or observed- even by physicists. What these new disciplines shared was that they they could only be truly understood by someone conversant with the mathematics involved. Although mass-induced curvature of space (for example) is commonly explained by analogy to a weight on a rubber sheet; that's at best, a weak metaphor. A ball bearing rolling on a rubber sheet is still being pulled down by gravity; it is not tracing a path in curved space that minimizes action.
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276 of 307 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Often lost in the weeds January 20, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me say from the get go, I am a huge Brian Greene fan, having read both his previous books and having found them deeply edifying. Few writers working today possess his ability to take complex material and explain it in ways that the interested layman can digest. When I learned of his new book, I was excited to dive-in.

Unfortunately, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, "The Hidden Reality" is far more opaque than his previous books. Time and again I found myself rereading a particular section, unable to decipher what he was seeking to explain. This may result from my own short-comings, I suspect that they might just as well arise from those limitations that Greene, from the very beginning, admits bedevils the notion of the "multiverse." Even more so than in String Theory, this topic currently stands at a point of being little more than speculation. Yes, the math creates the possibility that these other realms exist, but no one has to date suggested a method of falsification for this theory, nor does it offer much in the way of testable predictions.

Sometimes when he tries to counter critics, Green proves to be his own worst enemy. Consider a chapter where he argues against those who point out the difficulty of testing the hypothesis of a "muliverse." In reply, Greene points to Einstein's theories and the inability to demonstrate their veracity through experimentation in the early 20th century when they first appeared. However, this ignores the fact that Einstein's theories offered obvious precise predictions that, even if not testable at the time, one could imagine appearing in the near future. Had these predictions not withstood tests, out would have gone the theory.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Brian Greeens's writing but this I ene up scanning ...
I found it to be a little too deep for the average layman to understand. I never did quite understand what a multiverse is. Read more
Published 12 hours ago by richard ware
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the non-scientific thinker
Even though I am not in the technical world I am constantly reading books about science. Brian Greene writes with simplicity and
clarity about subjects that are generally... Read more
Published 23 hours ago by Jo Ann Koch
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly fascinating
Thought provoking and sometimes downright jaw dropping. Greene presents a case for why modern developments in physics may imply the existence of various different kinds of... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Barrett Ingram
5.0 out of 5 stars As a companion to "Fabric..."
Been reading this as the companion piece to Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos", which is helpful because it covers many of the same, hard-to-corner concepts on string... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Rikk Rubensandwich
5.0 out of 5 stars Too bad we'll never get to experience any of it except ...
We live in a strange place. Too bad we'll never get to experience any of it except through books, videos and mathematics.
Published 10 days ago by robert d. wooton
5.0 out of 5 stars Greene explores the multiverse.
This is the book you are looking for if you are seeking basic knowledge on the multiverse! Brian Greene uses his excellent methods of explanation to deliver a comprehensive and... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mohammed Alarabi
5.0 out of 5 stars Brian Greene.... makes a guy wanna ...
Brian Greene....makes a guy wanna think.....
Published 15 days ago by Bill Flynn
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
This book has a lot of overlap with Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe.

Greene uses less provocative language than Tegmark, but makes up for that by suggesting 5 more... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Peter McCluskey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Item delivered on time, and was as described.
Published 28 days ago by Anne Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Inaccessible information made accessible, with playful writing
For a mere simpleton, such as myself, Brian Greene offers valuable insight while still keeping the information and thoughts accessible to laymen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fredrik R
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More About the Author


Brian Greene received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and lives in New York City.



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Topic From this Discussion
Does the kindle edition contain graphics?
Yes, Paul. There are graphics. Just bought it today, with your question in mind (I wondered as well). My guess is the first n locations (~pages) did not have graphics in them.

In Chapter 2, Table 2.1 at location ~480. Then, Figure 2.1 (a, b) at location 610. Then, in Chapter 3, Figure 3.1... Read More
Jan 29, 2011 by Ogden Muldaur |  See all 3 posts
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