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Brian Greene starts off this book introducing the concept of multiple universes. According to Greene (I'm not a physicist) many, if not most, physics theories lead to some kind of multiple universe solution. They don't all agree on exactly what kind of multiple, parallel, alternate, string, infinite universes exist, but they do suggest that such universes do in fact exist. This forces us to change our concept of universe from everything we could possibly measure to everything that could possibly exist. The book presents eight chapters that focus on explaining different potential multiverses along with two chapters that focus on explaining how we can use math and science to learn about these multiverses and what some limitations might be for our learning about them. Including the introduction, it makes for around 320 pages plus references, but it's actually relatively light reading.

Relatively being the key. This isn't "See Spot Run". This is a discussion of the nature of, well, everything. I must admit that I was initially a little disappointed that there isn't an easy, simple solution to the nature of everything. Then I realized that would probably be a little boring and almost certainly wouldn't be true. Fortunately, Greene does a good job making hard topics easy to understand. This is partly due to the fact that complex phenomena must often be reduced to something simpler for even physicists to wrap their heads around them, and partly due to the fact that Greene is very good at making tough concepts easy to get. Most chapters start of with a review of the prerequisite physics for a particular multiverse view. This introduction can be skipped by advanced readers, but more casual science readers (like myself) will find it a very helpful primer or reminder (e.g., of S. Hawking's books). The next part of the chapter delves into the particular theory in question and what kind of universe(s) that theory predicts. The last part of each chapter is more theoretical, asking more complex questions, suggesting future directions, and/or offering extensions of the theory in question.

Overall, it makes for good reading as the reader is handily moved from easier to more complicated material. I tend towards biological science reading, but I'd heard such good things about Greene's writing that I thought I'd give this book a shot. I'm glad I did. The only downside is that I now find myself daydreaming about possible universes when I should be thinking about other things. But that's hardly a serious fault for the book. Just the opposite in fact. The idea that there are likely multiple universes, some potentially just like ours, with an exact copy of me typing this exact review or an exact copy of you reading it, is just really, really cool. And that kind of cool is just what good science reading should be all about!
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"The subject of parallel universes [also known as parallel worlds, multiple universes, alternate universes, metaverse, megaverse, or multiverse] is highly speculative. No experiment or observation has established that any version of the idea is realized in nature. So my point in writing this book is not to convince you that we're part of a multiverse. I'm not convinced--and, speaking generally, no one should be convinced--of anything not supported by hard data. That said, I find it both curious and compelling that numerous developments in physics, if followed sufficiently, bump into some variation on the parallel-universe theme...all of the parallel-universe proposals that we will take seriously emerge...from the mathematics of theories developed to explain conventional data and observations.

My intention, then, is to lay out clearly and concisely the intellectual steps and the chain of theoretical insights that have led physicists, from a range of perspectives, to consider the possibility that ours is one of many universes [that is, the possibility that our universe is part of a multiverse]...My aim is that when you leave this book, your sense of what might be--your perspective on how the boundaries of reality may one day be redrawn by scientific developments now under way--will be far more rich and vivid."

The above comes from the beginning of this book by Brian Greene. Greene is a theoretical physicist and now a professor of physics & mathematics at Columbia University. He has made a number of discoveries in Superstring Theory. Two of his previous books, "The Elegant Universe" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos" were bestsellers in the U.S.

What Greene does is take us through nine variations of the multiverse theme. The various versions have the following names:

(1) Quilted Multiverse
(2) Inflationary Multiverse
(3) Brane Mutiverse
(4) Cyclic Multiverse
(5) Landscape Multiverse
(6) Quantum Multiverse
(7) Holographic Multiverse
(8) Simulated Multiverse
(9) Ultimate Multiverse

Keeping the above quotation that begins this review in mind, any reader of this book should find it quite interesting, especially those with a physical science background.

I did find parts of this book not as accessible as the two bestsellers mentioned above. But there are still plenty of analogies with good, helpful illustrations throughout. I especially liked how everything was put into a historical context.

Finally, many readers may ask (including myself) if this topic that Greene is discussing true science? Greene does an excellent job of answering this question in the chapter entitled "Science and the Multiverse." This chapter is near the end of the book. I feel it should have been more at the beginning.

In conclusion, this book presents a remarkable journey to the very edge of reality--a journey grounded in science and limited only by human...imagination!!

(first published 2011; preface; 11 chapters; main narrative 320 pages; notes; suggestions for further reading; index)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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on August 25, 2011
I bought this book for my father's birthday. He's really into popular science and he had already read a lot of books from many different authors. My family first language is french and most of the books he already had were from french-speaking authors (they were not translations). I heard about Brian Greene on the american sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" and I thought that it could be nice for him to read a book in english for a change. It turned out it was perfect for him; even if he speaks and reads mainly in french, the explanations given in the book and the metaphors were explained in a way he could understand them easily and still learn. My point is that the book is really adapted for people who craves for science but are not necessarily experts on the matter. The book is also really up-to-date and describes really interesting concepts and theories we sometimes talk about without really knowing what they really are. In my opinion, this book can be offered to people who are 17 and over.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 15, 2011
Brian Greene is to commended on his mastery of the English language such that he can present, to a naive but curious reading public, complex scientific concepts in a clear, concise and thought provoking manner. While a number of critics will view his stance on multiverses as being dogmatic and unmoving, I do not. Greene strikes me as a scientist who is convinced that his summative theories are exact and precise based on the information before him. He does not preach that one theory is above the other nor does he feel that one of these must be correct. He simply expresses that a high probability exists of this occurrence based on the mathematical and physical models that we presently have. He strikes me as a scientist who will move to a different stance if/when reality dictates that he do so.

That being said, this text is a delightful journey into the area of physical, quantum and philosophical possibilities. If one treasures a book that will cause you to move beyond the 3-D world that you presently experience and to go on a 'mind journey' that goes outside of the cardboard box we all live in, this book is for you. Sip it slowly and let each chapter digest before moving onto the next. This is not a book to be taken in a few, thirsty gulps......
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on May 18, 2015
Written in plain English still I found it at times hard to understand. Of course this is not the Authors fault. Lacking the background knowledge made it difficult to stay with it, but I worked myself through it, and learned to understand how the universe works .It will definitely help to have some understanding of Quantum Physics.
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on November 27, 2011
The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene was an interesting read. He went into great detail in the theories of alternate universes with very good tangible models as to be easily understood. The book was not all sunshine and rainbows though. I found Greene to be very forceful with his biases and unbending in his resolve that he is correct. He also told countless numbers of meaningless stories throughout the book that had no relevance to the concepts he was discussing. I would not recommend this book to somebody new to cosmology because the reader would have no chance to formulate his or her own opinions based on scientific observation before being berated by Greene's adamant point of view.
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on September 1, 2013
Each chapter is a surprise. You dive into it and you always want to know more. I recommend this book for everyone eager to learn about multiverse.
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on October 31, 2015
Brian Greene is brilliant and can explain things in a very clear and exciting manner..will definitely buy other books of his
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on January 7, 2015
Brian Greene is a good writer and offers up much food for the book has to be read slowly.
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"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can understand it?'" -- John 6:60 (NKJV)

If you read only one popular science book this year, The Hidden Reality would be an excellent choice.

Much of what we understand about the universe began as "what if?" questions and conjectures about how to explain what is puzzling. Yet, the intellectual richness of such investigations is denied to most of those who cannot take the time to study the underlying math and logic. A few science writers try to fill in a little of the gap with simple explanations that often puzzle more than clarify.

In The Hidden Reality, Professor Brian Greene has written a rare book that provides a powerful overview of intellectual dense theory without resorting to any math. It's an impressive accomplishment that I highly recommend to those who would like to have a sense of the assumptions behind and potential tests for various cosmological theories that imply or require more than one universe to exist simultaneously with our own.

While my summer reading normally runs to mysteries and thrillers, I must say that The Hidden Reality was the most fun read I had this year. I enjoyed it so much that I spent quite a bit of time with the book . . . just to extend my enjoyment.

I was particularly intrigued by the notion that what we perceive as reality might be no more than a program that creates a sense of a physical world. Great fun!

Bravo, Professor Greene!
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