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The Universe Next Door: The Making of Tomorrow's Science First Edition Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195143829
ISBN-10: 0195143825
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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
"Seven Brief Lessons on Physics" by Carlo Rovelli
This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Immortality in an alternate quantum reality? Black holes that give birth to new universes? Galactic regions where time runs backward? Mere fiction simply cannot keep up with the wild rush of contemporary science. And no writer makes it easier for general readers to come along for the dizzying ride than Chown, cosmology consultant for New Scientist. Whether assessing the latest evidence for comet-borne life or probing the implications of 10-dimensional models for space, Chown frees readers from the technical rigors of theorizing but ceaselessly challenges us to enlarge our imaginative horizons. The galaxy itself cannot contain ideas that open up onto a multiuniverse of cosmic possibilities, including invisible mirror planets and cosmic laboratories for detonating new big bangs. To be sure, Chown ventures far beyond what scientists have actually proved, delving deep into what they only wildly conjecture. But even the wildest of speculations (that, for instance, each atom is a miniature time machine) show us how brilliant scientists grapple with fundamental questions. Many of these theoretical forays will eventually be exposed as fantasies. But others are bound to revolutionize the way scientists--and ordinary humans--view our cosmos and our place in it. For sheer intellectual exhilaration, few books offer more. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"An enjoyable book...lets readers spend time pondering ideas that go beyond intuitive reasoning.... Chown pursues those intriguing notions by interviewing a collection of renowned scientists from around the world--many of whom express very strange thoughts based on current knowledge."--Nick Nichols, Astronomy

"Chown devotes this exciting book to crazy ideas currently brewing in the minds of theoretical physicists. Could time run backward? Does quantum theory promise immortality? Might multiple realties be playing out all possible histories? Could these ideas and others that Chown profiles here be true? Evidence is often sketchy, but the concepts are infinitely intriguing."--Science News

"Marcus Chown is a scientific evangelist. The deeper I delved into The Universe Next Door the more I became suffused with a fervor for the subject.... Eminently readable and delightfully thought-provoking."--New Scientist

"Reminds me of Carl Sagan at his best."--Michael White, author of Leonardo: The First Scientist

"Beautifully explains all kinds of crazy ideas that just might be the next major step forward. Tonic for the imagination, highly recommended!"--Gregory Chaitin, IBM Research Division, author of Conversations with a Mathematician


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (March 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195143825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195143829
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,414,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting book of cosmological speculation aimed at the general reader. What science writer Marcus Chown does especially well is to excite our imagination about what might be possible in light of what we now know or think we know.

This is not, however a book to give comfort to mainstream physicists. Chown's emphasis is on minority report notions including parallel universes, invisible universes, time travel, universes created by super-intelligent beings, extra dimensions, and the like. His technique is to introduce the ideas of maverick scientists (e.g., Max Tegmark, Edward Harrison, David Stevenson, etc.) and, where possible, meld them with the ideas of more established scientists. He avoids (I think) the impossible while concentrating on the exciting.

Since most of the ideas presented in this book are of the "not likely to be proven any time soon" variety, I would like to give them a kind of aesthetic grade just for fun and as a way to show you what the book is about.

First, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, an idea championed by physicist David Deutsch in his book, The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes-and Its Implications (1997). Grade: A+. This is a beautiful notion that expands the mind wonderfully. A entire new universe with every tick of the quantum! Mind-boggling in the extreme, yet eye-opening in the sense that by contemplating such an amazement, we might have a better idea of the thought of infinity. (Personally, though, I prefer in everyday life, the Copenhagen interpretation.)

Second, the idea of parallel universes (a possibility that can be independent of the many worlds interpretation of QM). Grade: A-. Too easy by itself to imagine.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, a fantastically fun book. I'm not sure that I agree with all of the theories it contains-I'm not sure the author even does-but they're certainly astounding and the thought processes that went into creating them is truly awe-inspiring. Some of them are not new to me. What is new, however, is the approachable style of the composition. Although formerly a radio astronomer at Cal Tech, at present Marcus Chown is primarily a professional science journalist. His approach to the topic of modern physics and its newer concepts is one of a writer and broadcaster. As he discusses each topic, he quotes the primary researchers in the field like a writer for Discover magazine would, asking pertinent questions and where necessary, explaining the answers. Through these dialogues with renowned scientists, he allows the reader to become more familiar with the personalities of the individuals at the leading edge of theoretical physics as well as with their ideas. He functions as a very knowledgeable and lucid interface between the professional scientist and the curious lay person.
Each chapter is primarily dedicated to a specific concept having to do with "reality" and with the nature of the universe. Each chapter reads like a well written novel in that the last paragraph serves as a hook to draw the reader on to the next amazing concept in the succeeding chapter. I found that I couldn't just set aside the book. I read it cover to cover in one sitting and loved every minute of it. For those with an interest in but less of a background in physics, there is a fairly detailed glossary in the back of the book which should help with terms, although most are adequately explained in the body of the text. I think that most individuals can understand the concepts as they are explained.
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Format: Hardcover
"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice.--Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland).
Any technology that is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.--Arthur C. Clarke.
In The Universe Next Door, Marcus Chown, Cosmology Consultant for the weekly science magazine New Scientist and author of Afterglow of Creation: From the Fireball to the Discovery of Cosmic Ripples and The Magic Furnace: The Search for the Origin of Atoms, has published his third volume of popularized science. His latest work has three parts: "The Nature of Reality," "The Nature of the Universe," and "Life and the Universe." The author lives in the United Kingdom.
In The Universe Next Door, Chown provides a lucid survey of dozens of bizarre theories propounded by scientists who have hyperactive imaginations. Cicero (107-43 B.C.) once remarked, "There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it." Nowadays one could say, "There is nothing so ridiculous but some scientist has said it."
For example, consider this overview of the book's 12 chapters:
o "Unbreak My Heart." Contrary to all expectations, there may exist regions in our universe where time runs backward.
o "I'm Gonna Live Forever." Evidence is growing that there are an infinite number of realities stacked together like the pages of a never-ending book.
o "Dividing the Indivisible." A claim that the basic building blocks of matter can be split could have profound implications for the nature of ultimate reality.
o "All the World's a Time Machine." The two great theories of twentieth-century physics might at last be united--if atoms contain time machines.
o "Tales from the Fifth Dimension.
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