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Customer Review

316 of 352 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Often lost in the weeds, January 20, 2011
This review is from: The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (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. To date, nobody can offer similar predictions through this theory that we are likely to be able to test anytime soon.

The result of these weaknesses is that I found myself often lost in the weeds, left with little more than the point that the math says that these things may be so. I can understand Greene's enthusiasm at the possibility of limitless realities beyond our own, but glorying at the possibility doesn't get me any closer to accepting -- or even understanding -- that these intriguing suggestions might prove real.
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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2011 9:18:42 AM PST
yes, I agree. "Multiverse" mantra holds not very much merit. Just recent "hot" topic.
It will take a long time to prove or disprove this mathematics.

Posted on Jan 22, 2011 7:34:32 AM PST
Thanks, JA Magill! As the private editor of the first two books, delighted you found them especially readable.

Posted on Feb 14, 2011 7:53:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 14, 2011 8:24:31 PM PST
J. A. Magill - Thanks for your review. I, too, enjoyed "Elegant Universe" and "Fabric of the Cosmos" and have recommended them to friends as an alternative to Hawkins' books because Greene explained concepts in a very understandable way. As you say, in this one the theories are not at all clear. An example is Greene's explanation of Juan Maldecina's development of the math that posits a stack of 3-branes (black branes?) as the holographic boundry for a universe (not our's) that demonstrates the connection between string theory and Quantum Field Theory. According to Greene, this is among the most exciting recent findings that may establish the usefulness of string theory for potentially solving real problems. It would have been nice if he spent more time explaining this and other intriguing concepts in the book, rather than an exhaustive cataloging of all the speculative theories for which little or no support exists.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2011 6:35:06 AM PST
"...cataloging of all the speculative theories for which little or no support exists".
-----------------------------------------
Not only this, but to prove it will be rather impossible. Just science fiction. I used to enjoy these speculations, but my interest in recent years has evaporated. I have enough. I would rather read books or articles that describe what we observe (meaning: instead of theoretical buzzing, astrophysics and astronomy findings).

Posted on Feb 28, 2011 8:39:02 PM PST
thank you for a candid account. A.Brenner

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 6:38:34 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 22, 2011 9:40:44 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2011 2:41:31 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 21, 2011 4:57:59 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2011 2:50:39 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 22, 2011 9:41:01 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 12, 2011 9:50:55 AM PDT
J. Noon says:
I too found this book maddeningly opaque.

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 12:39:23 PM PDT
Seyda says:
I have not read this book yet. That said, there are ideas on how to test for the existence of other dimensions and a multiverse. The idea is to measure the energy after collisions of protons at CERN to see if there is missing energy. If there is missing energy than that will be evidence that the energy was launched into hidden dimensions and imply the validity of string theory and by extension the brane model of our universe.
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