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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  11,907 Ratings  ·  539 Reviews
From the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos comes his most expansive and accessible book to date—a book that takes on the grandest question: Is ours the only universe?

There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, in recent years discoveries in physics and cosmology have led a number of scientists to conclude tha
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Knopf
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Aidan I haven't read this one, but I have read two other books by Greene: The Elegant Universe, and The Fabric of the Cosmos. Hidden Reality is his latest…moreI haven't read this one, but I have read two other books by Greene: The Elegant Universe, and The Fabric of the Cosmos. Hidden Reality is his latest of the three. He is generally easy to understand, and he explains things lucidly and in a clear way. I'd expect this one to be the same.

If you haven't read either The Elegant Universe or The Fabric of the Cosmos, I recommend checking them out. They are both exceptional works. Your world will never be the same after reading Greene. He made me understand general relativity, something I struggled with for years, before stumbling upon his The Elegant Universe. And his descriptions of and implications on the tenets of string theory are very impressive.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jun 03, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So my buddy Ryan introduced me and Jo to his new girlfriend this past weekend and she's a mathematician (who is clearly not very good at it, because Ryan with a girlfriend doesn't add up - ZING!), so I was like "Do you think we're all avatars in a big futuristic game of The Sims?" and her face just lit up, like "I've been waiting for someone to ask me this all my life!" She is adorable, and we geeked out about parallel universes for like half an hour while Ryan and Jo made big exaggerated ...more
May 18, 2011 Manny rated it really liked it
Recommended to Manny by: Mary
Shelves: science, multiverse
I've now read three books about the multiverse in rapid succession: the first two were Rees's Before The Beginning (1996) and Davies's The Goldilocks Enigma (2007). This one came out just a few months ago, so I'm hopefully up to date for the moment.

Well: I'm starting to feel quite familiar with the arguments, but each book has an interestingly different slant. Rees concentrates on presenting the experimental evidence for the existence of other universes - basically, the physical constants of
Oct 30, 2011 Jason rated it it was amazing
Brian Greene really is one of the best popular science writers. His books give you a real sense of being guided by someone who genuinely knows what they're talking about, who uses metaphors effectively, and who effectively weaves the traditional material in with the new points he is making. He also approaches science with curiosity untainted by dogmatism. He is very much open to speculation, but equally open to the speculation not panning out.

This book is about different concepts of the Multiver
Sep 22, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
Outstanding update of the current status of modern physics and the projections of parallel universes from various advances. I would have loved to have Greene for a teacher in college. The tour is suitable for laymen with some understanding of physics, as he provides plenty of concrete examples to explain challenging concepts and gives an opportunity to skip more technical sections. For the more knowledgeable reader, a copious appendix is available, replete with the relevant math equations.

Muhammad Shakhawat Hossain
নৃতত্ত্ববিদ্যা মতে মানব সভ্যতার জন্ম ২০,০০০-৪৪,০০০ বছর আগে। এই সময়টার ভেতর মানুষ খুব ধীরে ধীরে নতুন নতুন প্রযুক্তির উদ্ভাবন করেছে। মানুষ আগুন জ্বালাতে শিখেছে, হাড় দিয়ে হাতিয়ার তৈরী করেছে, পশুর সাথে হুটোপাটি না করেও স্রেফ বিষ দিয়েই যে অনেক কম ক্লেশে শিকার করে ফেলা যায় তা জেনেছে, পাথুরে গুহার গায়ে আঁচড় দিয়ে ছবি এঁকেছে...। এভাবে এক সময় মানুষ জায়গার পরিমাপের নিখুঁত হিসেব করতেও শিখে গেলো। ভূখণ্ডের কতখানি নিয়ে একটি সাম্রাজ্য বা দেশ হয় তার আন্দাজ পেলো। এত এত সব বিদ্যা একটু একটু করে অর্জন করে এই বড়জোর ...more
Mary Overton
It took me 8 months to read this book. My system is to read until my head is ready to explode, then stop for a month, then restart at the beginning. On the 4th attempt, I made it to the last page (or rather, Kindle location.) guarantee of how much was actually understood. This is a book that pried open my mind. The brain is sore and ecstatic from the experience.

From the last chapter,
Table 11.1 Summary of Various Versions of Parallel Universes
1. Quilted Multiverse: Conditions in an infinite
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 04, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
The first book I had by Brian Greene was The Fabric of the Cosmos. I got it not long after it was releases and a friend asked me if he could borrow it not long after I received it in the mail, before I'd read it.

I said yes.

I didn't get the book back for several years, Dr. Greene had written more by then. Oh well.

This book (as is Dr. Greene's wont) is an attempt to take highly technical and advanced ideas and make them understandable to "us", "we", "the great unwashed", "the masses". I suppose i
Jan 23, 2012 R.L. rated it liked it
This is a pretty dense book. Some of the footnotes have footnotes!

I'm sure it must be very difficult for an author of a popular science book to walk the line between, on the one hand, providing enough technical information to make the arguments cogent, and on the other, miring the reader in a bog of difficult concepts and facts. My hat's off to Dr. Greene for giving it a try on some of the most out-there ideas that can be imagined.

Some very interesting ideas, but ultimately, for me this was al
Keith Akers
Mar 03, 2011 Keith Akers rated it really liked it
This was a good book. For a popularization, this had some pretty heavy science in it. I'm a pretty smart guy and will have to re-read it to really have a better understanding. Greene really is a good writer, because even when you don't quite understand what he's talking about, he gives you enough of the broad overview so that you can go to the next section and feel that you haven't missed anything critical.

The section on "quilted multiverses" was pretty straightforward and I can claim to have un
Sep 28, 2011 Tomislav rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The first half of this book is an expansion on some of the various multiverse concepts mentioned only briefly in Greene's earlier The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos (which overlap each other a little). I was an enthusiastic reader of those, and enjoyed this deeper look at what the scientific basis of those might be, in somewhat the same style. But for the second half of the book, I want to mention specific chapters, as I feel the value of the writing swings wildly.

7. Science and t
Feb 14, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes physics or science fiction
I always enjoy looking at scientific concepts through the lens of the fantastic or peculiar, so this exploration of parallel universes by popular physicist Brian Greene is perfect for me. Written in his usual clear, funny style, Greene naturally discusses string theory, relativity, number theory with respect to infinities, quantum theory, and numerous other scientific concepts. Instead of simply discussing these theories, however, we get to look at various proposals of multiple universes. From ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Laurie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really am a huge fan of Brian Greene. I've read both "The Elegant Universe" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos" and find his writing simply astonishing. With complete sympathy for readers without mathematical acumen, he explains concepts like quantum physics, the theory of relativity, the four major forces including gravity with such precision, and wit, that I found myself gasping for breath as I felt like I was reaching groundbreaking depths of understanding of how the universe works on almost ...more
Jan 25, 2012 Nicholas rated it liked it
Shelves: physics
I purchased this on the strength of Brian Greene's past works and find him to be consistent in his clarity of explanation.Although I had a few sticky moments with some elements of string theory and the explanation of the concept of infinity, on the whole it went well.I didn't get the same revelatory experience I got from "Fabric of the Cosmos",as most of the multiverse theories are extensions of areas he has covered previously and as the book is written with the assumption of little or no prior ...more
Oct 06, 2011 David rated it liked it
Much of this book describes speculative hypotheses about parallel universes. Some of the explanations--for example, the bubble universes--really made my head hurt. The explanation for why string theory requires ten space-time dimensions seems a bit glib to me. Some of the analogies--imagine a bunch of clones of Cartman from South Park standing atop mountain peaks--are just too silly to take seriously. The description of black holes and entropy is fascinating. Some parts of the book are rather ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to get a glimpse of the current state of physics' understanding and theories about our universe and possible multiverses, mostly after an interesting piece on Radiolab a few months ago. I felt like this book got bogged down in string theory, and I have to admit the mechanics of the holographic universe escaped me. Still, I feel like I understand more about how theories of multiverses originate, and where they might be going. Not the most fun read, and I was expecting less theoretical ...more
Sep 22, 2012 bup rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, 2012
This book wouldn't be great without his first two. Or maybe it would, but it would seem like a fantasy ride in some bologna-artist's woo-science book. It's basically a survey of the different multiverse ideas out there - all the different ways people have dreamed up multiple universes.

Given the scientific gravitas Brian Greene is able to bring, though, one has to take these ideas seriously. At least, as seriously as one can. I'm not a physicist, but I have taken a statistics course or two, and t
Cassandra Kay Silva
Mar 15, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing
Finally! Brian Greene you are the master at delivering exactly what I have naturally been pondering and lack the scientific mind to undertake. Thank heavens it wasn't another science book that I had to sit through the whole of physics from Einstein onward. Way to know your audience. We are sick of the constant repeating of every major scientific breakthrough of modern times. We have heard it all a dozen times, we know the history and want to know what is going on now! Yet again you deliver in ...more
Lee (Rocky)
Sep 05, 2014 Lee (Rocky) rated it it was ok
I think I may just be too dumb for books like this. There are parts I understand and that intrigue me, but then suddenly things get too complicated for me to wrap my head around. This is mostly, but not exclusively, true of the sections that delve deeply into math (though the author, thankfully, relegates a lot of the math to notes), but there are plenty of non-math sections that were equally incomprehensible to me. Some of the notes are useful for clarification, but others just muddy the waters ...more
This is a pretty good read.
Greene does digress into silly analogies and painfully remedial mathematical lessons from time to time.
Nevertheless, the many flavors of conceivable "multiverses" are an interesting and quite modern topic.
Greene acts like a used car salesman at times, using syrupy language to give speculation more than it's due.

Worst of all is his "giving equal time" to the anthropic principle!
Anthropic arguments are nothing more than an "I give up" approach to explaining the yet-to-be
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
Needed more "Schrodinger's Cat and less Matrix."

Okay, I liked the first 66% of the book. Greene takes the time to go over, and over..(and over).... (and over) some of the same mathmatical points. It could get monotonous but in the first half to 2/3rds of the book he managed to add a little bit more "new stuff" to each repitition.

It did help me understand string theory and that there is at least mathamatical (theoretical?) support for multiple universes and the book did a good job of explaining
Sep 04, 2016 Jerry rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This book presents nine different theories supporting the idea of parallel universes. These are consistent with current physics theory and observational data. At this time there is not enough data to discern which one if any might in fact be a true representation of reality.
One of the more interesting theories to me is the Quilted Multiverse.
An infinite universe can be divided into a series of spherical patches each the size of the cosmic horizon. The cosmic horizon is the distance that light c
The Abeyant
Jun 11, 2011 The Abeyant rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This is my first post on Good Reads, so we'll see how this goes. My fiancé has been on here for quite some time, and she insisted that I become part of the group, so here I am.

The book was a very smooth read for me, being someone who is comfortable with mathematics and science. All of the concepts and theories put forth in this book were things I had encountered before (via Through The Wormhole, in particular), and I feel that it greatly helped me to visualize what was being discussed, having se
Jan 16, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
Once again Brian Greene demonstrates that he is very talented writer. He exemplifies the sort of person that the modern world so desperately needs -- a first-class scientist who can also effectively communicate both the findings and the excitement of modern science.

In this book, he introduces readers to several themes of modern physics and cosmology, all centering around the seemingly infinite universe about us -- the "quilted multiverse", the inflationary multiverse, string theory and the multi
Flavio Matani
I enjoyed this but of course I'm a layman -from outside, the idea of the various types of parallel universe posited here seems almost absurd, a sort of mathematical game. Greene goes some way to explain how some of these ideas could make sense and perhaps be proved (to the extent that positing the existence of realms of reality -sorry- that are completely inaccesible to us could be done at all). One little point: he tries to put together arguments for and against each of these postulates (and of ...more

Unabridged and read by the author - sorted!

Not as accessible (for me, anyway :O/) as The Elegant Universe however I love his descriptions of parallel universes that fire the imagination.
Kyle Muntz
Mar 11, 2013 Kyle Muntz rated it really liked it
A pretty great survey of contemporary physics, though I could have gone without the focus on parallel universes. I feel much wiser now that I'm done, but for everything I understand there are two or three others I don't. Science is hard. But awesome, so it's alright.
May 18, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Good grasp and explanation of many concepts. Some of the good stuff is buried in the notes, though. Overuses the anthropic principle in the later chapters, which explains nothing. A solid book over all.
Not enough Simpsons in it.

Written after Manny's here, because somebody has to stand tall and write the tough reviews.

Meghan Sayres
Jan 30, 2011 Meghan Sayres marked it as to-read
I just heard Brian Greene interviewed on NPR, and this book promises to be a winner.
Umair Khan
Mar 06, 2013 Umair Khan rated it really liked it
In The Hidden Reality, celebrated theoretical physicist Brian Greene explains the mind-boggling idea of a ‘Multiverse’ (plural of universe). A professor of physics at Columbia University, Greene is well-known for his two earlier works on popular science, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos which sought to explain, among other things, the very nature of space-time. But The Hidden Reality, in explicating the idea of multiple realities, shows the layperson something that has never ...more
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Science and Inquiry: September 2012 - Hidden Reality 55 174 Sep 18, 2014 12:51PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 62 - The Hidden Reality 1 1 Aug 23, 2014 07:19AM  
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  • The Life of the Cosmos
  • Collider: The Search for the World's Smallest Particles
  • The Day We Found the Universe
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  • Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality
  • The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design
  • Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System
  • Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature
  • Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World
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  • Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science
  • Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
  • The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
Brian Greene is an American theoretical physicist and one of the best-known string theorists. He has been a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University since 1996. He has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public and a related PBS television special.
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“If there is a lot of matter, gravity will cause space to curve back on itself, yielding the spherical shape. If there is little matter, space is free to flare outward in the Pringles shape. And if there is just the right amount of matter, space will have zero curvature.*” 7 likes
“When you realize that quantum mechanics underlies all physical processes, from the fusing of atoms in the sun to the neural firings that constitutes the stuff of thought, the far-reaching implications of the proposal become apparent. It says that there’s no such thing as a road untraveled. Yet each such road—each reality—is hidden from all others.” 5 likes
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