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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Hardcover – January 25, 2011


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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos + The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory + The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307265630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265630
  • ASIN: 0307265633
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Oliver Sacks on The Hidden Reality

Oliver Sacks was born in London and educated in London, Oxford, California, and New York. He is professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, and Columbia's first University Artist. He is the author of many books, including Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Musicophilia. His newest book, The Mind's Eye, was published in October, 2010.

Brian Greene is not only a profound cosmological thinker--a pioneer of string theory--but a writer of exceptional clarity and charm. His books--The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos among them--take one ever deeper into a universe stranger and more wonderful than anyone could have conceived a generation ago. The Hidden Reality takes us deeper still, and it has a special personal quality and warmth that is evident from the opening of the book, when Greene recollects how, as a boy, he was fascinated by the multiple reflections in parallel mirrors. He has never lost this childlike wonder at the world of physics, but he brings it now to examining theories of multiple universes, of the continual birth of universes, starting long before our own. . . and destined to continue, perhaps, to the end of time.

In the 1930s, as a boy myself, I read The Mysterious Universe by James Jeans. Jeans was, like Greene, a brilliant theoretical astronomer and equally mesmerizing writer. I thought Jeans's book was the most exciting, revelatory book I had ever read, and now, seventy years later, I feel the same excitement reading Brian Greene's new book, where every chapter opens level after level of previously unimaginable, mind-expanding realities.


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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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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Customer Reviews

I found Greene's book enjoyable, full of new concepts and explanations, and well worth reading.
Paul Moskowitz
And Brian Greene, author of the current volume under discussion, has now produced his third book attempting to explain some very difficult ideas to the lay reader.
Michael J. Edelman
If you are a Brian Greene fan, then you may have read his previous books The Elegant Universe and the Fabric of the Cosmos, both of which are beautiful reads.
Richad of Connecticut

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

508 of 527 people found the following review helpful By Michael Birman TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2011
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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231 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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278 of 310 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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