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

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  8,122 ratings  ·  442 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 (first published January 25th 2010)
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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 sighin ...more
May 18, 2011 Manny rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 o
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
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 হ ...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
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
Keith Akers
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
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
Feb 14, 2011 Kathleen rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 t ...more
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
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 eve ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
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
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
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 ph ...more
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 ph ...more
Lee (Rocky)
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
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
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 Abeyant
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
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
Kyle Muntz
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.
The Hidden Reality is one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I've read. In this book, Brian Greene discusses several theories on parallel universes and how those theories came about. I say it's enjoyable because 1) Parallel universes and 2) Greene discusses the theories -- all of which are based on really complex math -- in such a way that is easily understandable to those of us who are not versed in the concepts of advanced physics. If, however, the reader wants to know more about the inne ...more
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.
Paul Weimer
Brian Greene is the foremost advocate for the power and strength of String Theory. While he himself might not be on the cutting edge of string theory research, his role as a popularizer and explainer of string theory makes him the one name the average person could name, if they could name anyone at all, involved with string theory. In the Hidden Reality, Brian Greene builds on his previous two books, The Elegant Universe, and The Fabric of the Cosmos, to continue the story of String Theory in a ...more
Anastasia Hobbet
Having become enthralled last year with Lawrence Krauss, the physicist who is/was pals with two of my other loves, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens, I approached this book with all the coolness such devotion engenders. But the hidden reality is that string theory kinda makes some sense after all, kinda, or am I just an easy woman? Greene's lively, and self-critical telling of the theory's checkered history leaves me with a well-let's-wait-and-see-attitude. He doesn't make a defensive atta ...more
Marjorie Thelen
What is real? This has been a question of mine for a long time. From a physics perspective Brian Greene explores the question in his new book The Hidden Reality, Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of Cosmos. While he's a physics professor at Colombia University, he writes in layman's language as far as such esoteric concepts can be expressed outside of mathematics. It took me two months to read the book – not a page turner but a thought provoker. I recommend reading the last chapter first to g ...more
Keith Davis
After reading Greene's book I am less inclined to believe in the reality of parallel universes. The idea of everything being repeated an infinite number of times in an infinite universe seems ridiculous. Infinity is a mathematical abstraction that has no correlation with the physical universe. All discussion of infinity immediately bogs down into paradox, which is a sign that you have gone down the wrong track. String theory seems to be an exercise in devising a mathematical model to explain an ...more
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Science and Inquiry: September 2012 - Hidden Reality 55 165 Sep 18, 2014 12:51PM  
  • Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
  • The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
  • The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
  • Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos
  • Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature
  • The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • In Search of the Multiverse
  • Collider: The Search for the World's Smallest Particles
  • The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
  • The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
  • Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe
  • The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
  • The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications
  • Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World
  • The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
  • The Day We Found 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.
More about Brian Greene...
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory The Fabric of the Cosmos (Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality) Icarus at the Edge of Time The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006 隠れていた宇宙 [Kakurete Ita Uchū] 1

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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.*” 3 likes
“But Einstein refused to be mathematics’ pawn. He bucked the equations in favor of his intuition about how the cosmos should be, his deep-seated belief that the universe was eternal and, on the largest of scales, fixed and unchanging. The universe, Einstein admonished Lemaître, is not now expanding and never was.” 2 likes
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