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Universe or Multiverse? [Hardcover]

Bernard Carr
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 25, 2007 0521848415 978-0521848411 1
Recent developments in cosmology and particle physics, such as the string landscape picture, have led to the remarkable realization that our universe - rather than being unique - could be just one of many universes. The multiverse proposal helps to explain the origin of the universe and some of its observational features. Since the physical constants can be different in other universes, the fine-tunings which appear necessary for the emergence of life may also be explained. Nevertheless, many physicists remain uncomfortable with the multiverse proposal, since it is highly speculative and perhaps untestable. In this volume, a number of active and eminent researchers in the field - mainly cosmologists and particle physicists but also some philosophers - address these issues and describe recent developments. The articles represent the full spectrum of views, providing for the first time an overview of the subject. They are written at different academic levels, engaging lay-readers and researchers alike.

Editorial Reviews


'... probably the most comprehensive tome on the subject around at the moment and, like the others, I imagine it will have a long shelf-life ... this well-constructed collection of writings is the best we can possibly hope for in the era of this new great debate.' Pedro Ferreira, Physics World

'This book really does lie at the frontier of cosmology, philosophy and possibly even theology. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to consider these ideas in depth.' Martin Redfern, Science, People and Politics

'Reading this book is a complex and rich experience. I find it useful as recommended reading as an introduction for undergraduate students.' Luca Valenziano, CERN Courier

'... an essential acquisition for those requiring an up to date account of the various physical proposals and their problems.' Science and Christian Belief

Book Description

Is our universe unique or just one of many? Eminent physicists explain how recent scientific developments lead to the 'multiverse' proposal. Suitable for professional physicists and scientifically-minded lay people, the articles reflect the full diversity of views on this highly speculative and untestable theory.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521848415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521848411
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,544,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book on a very interesting topic November 1, 2007
This is a wonderful and highly readable book about the question of whether or not our universe is part of a multiverse. The more than two dozen contributors all do a fine job.

We see plenty about the Anthropic Principle and about the Copernican Principle (also known as the Principle of Mediocrity). The Anthropic Principle merely points out that given that we exist in this universe, our universe must be habitable. But this argument can be extended. Steven Weinberg shows how he was able to use the Principle of Mediocrity and the Anthropic Principle to put some interesting probable bounds on a cosmological constant. A universe with such a constant being less than 0.6 would be relatively unlikely for humans to be in, so his guess was that this constant was over 0.6. At the time, most guesses for the cosmological constant were 0.0, but soon after this, studies of supernovae showed that this constant is around 0.7. Several of the contributors discuss this argument. It's an unusual type of argument, and Weinberg makes an analogy to Einstein's use of a symmetry principle argument to come up with the Special Theory of Relativity (nowadays, symmetry principle arguments are commonplace, but Einstein's, in 1905, was the first major successful one).

Several contributors also discuss Hoyle's use of the Anthropic Principle to claim that there must be an excited state of Carbon-12 with the right energy to produce carbon in stars. This excited state is no big surprise, given the general properties of alpha-particle couplings, so Weinberg and others are unimpressed. However, I side with Hoyle here.

Weinberg explains that we now have a vast number of possible values of physical parameters provided by the "string landscape.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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Popular science outlets have been covering the possibility that our universe is just one among a potentially infinite number of universes--the multiverse--for years now, but in bits and pieces. If you are seriously interested in the science behind the various multiverse concepts, read this book. It's a compendium of 28 invited articles on every aspect of the multiverse field by the theoreticians and researchers who invented and are advancing this very active area. I found Bernard Carr's essay on the anthropic principle very helpful, along with Max Tegmark's multiverse hierarchy,Leonard Susskind's discussion of the anthropic landscape of string theory, Lee Smolin's essay on alternatives to the anthropic approach, and John Barrow's "Living in a simulated universe." However, readers will find definitive essays on every aspect of the multiverse, inclouding many that don't get covered in the popular science press.

A caveat, however, don't turn to this book for an easy read. On the whole, these are essays by scientists writing for other scientists or for readers who are, for example, comfortable with equations, technical terminology, and densely reasoned arguments. For a less technical survey of the field, I'd recommend Brian Greene's _The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes nd the Deep Laws of the Cosmos_.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An excess of speculation June 2, 2013
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When reading the articles in this book, one can easily be astounded at the enormous level of speculation and lack of scientific evidence that is included in them. If the authors insisted on using the fundamental physical theory that many of them had a hand in making, the contents of this articles would be very different, and much more palatable to those readers who insist on a more fundamental approach to current issues in cosmology and the controversies behind the multiverse hypothesis. Most of the articles in this book reflect an avoidance of solving the bound state problem in quantum field theory, which is the fundamental theory governing elementary particle interactions, and as a result, the authors resort to hand-waving arguments and back-of-the-envelope calculations. In addition to that, many of the authors display a discomfort in being confronted with large numbers such as 10^56, and this discomfort causes them it seems to make hypotheses that would not be made by someone who works with such large numbers on a daily basis.

For example, S. Weinberg, in the opening article of the book takes it as unacceptable that the cancellation by quantum fluctuations of the vacuum energy would have to be exact to 56 decimals places. But many who work in fields such as cryptography deal with much larger numbers than 10^56 in everyday practice, and therefore they would probably not be concerned so much with the purported delicacy in this cancellation. Weinberg's objection also reflects his insistence on explaining everything using symmetry arguments, which as the first part of the article is clear evidence of. He does not want to face up to solving the bound state problem (via the Schwinger-Dyson equations or some other approach).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The state of knowledge as it stands now February 15, 2010
One answer to the question about us being the only intelligent life in the cosmos is answered by the multiverse theory of multiple universes. This is a subject that has received a lot of thinking and mathematical analysis in recent years. Recent developments in cosmology and particle physics, such as the string landscape picture, have led to some serious thinking that ours is not the only universe.

This book has papers from a number of active and eminent researchers in the field, mainly from cosmologists and particle physicists, but also from such diverse fields as philosophy. The papers cover the complete spectrum from enthusiastic support to outright scepticism. There is very little advanced mathematics in the book when compared with some other texts on the subject.
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