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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Hardcover – January 25, 2011
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a fascinating and profound book. As I read through it I was constantly reminded of Hesse's The Glass Bead Game The Glass Bead Game: (Magister Ludi) A Novel and Doctor Who... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Junglies
I liked the book a lot. I can see how the Many Worlds theory can be a valid interpretation mathematically. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Martin Montana
Brian Green has been my number one source for the very latest cosmology topics for many years now. Brian mentions Copernicus only because that marks one of the major turning points... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Davis972
Multiple and varied universes seems a little bit too out there for my mind. But I appreciate that this is currently where the math leads the theorists. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Neil
Wonderfully written and translated into layman's terms, but the ending chapters were verbose and overly philosophical.Published 1 month ago by Robert Olszewski
Outstanding summary of Quantum Mechanics, Cosmology and the theoretical bases for parallel universes and multiverses.Published 1 month ago by Edward E Groff
Slow reading, only about two thirds of the way through, challenges my thinking, very interesting.Published 2 months ago by Francis M. Van Meter
While this book is purportedly about parallel universes, and it is, it is really a primer on cosmology. Greene covers from Einstein to quite recent developments. Read morePublished 2 months ago by WisGuy