10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A very witty and clear book from a leading cosmologist,
This review is from: Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (Hardcover)
Alex Vilenkin is one of the popular authors who is also a real leader in his field. He is one of the main authors of eternal inflation and a co-author of a mathematical formula according to which the Universe spontaneously appears from "nothing". He has also worked on topics such as cosmic strings that are not covered in the book.
The book is very clear and much more entertaining than most of the popular physics books that were recently published. There are many witty cartoons and photographs, including a photograph of Alan Guth in his messiest office of the Greater Boston; Guth became a proud winner of a Boston Globe contest. Other physicists are pictured during parties or as children.
Vilenkin, who has lived in the U.S. since 1976, is a true believer in cosmic inflation and he makes an extremely convincing case for this mainstream cosmological scenario. The second part is dedicated to his own twist: the eternal inflation.
The eternal inflation naturally leads to the anthropic principle. Vilenkin has something good even for those of us who are not thrilled by the anthropic reasoning: for example, he tries to explain the difference between the anthropic principle and pornography. I didn't quite understand the difference but I am sure that more careful readers have.
Finally, Vilenkin analyzes how the Universe could have been created from "nothing". Many of the recent successful books were written by people whose background allows us to include them among particle physicists: Hawking, Weinberg, Greene, Randall, Susskind. Vilenkin is different: he is a pure cosmologist who likes to meditate about the skies and entertain the readers who want to follow his big picture of the Universe, without microscopic details of particle physics that have been covered in many other excellent books.