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Before The Beginning: ...
Martin J. Rees
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Before The Beginning: Our Universe And Others

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  16 reviews
nd its place within a grander scheme, one of the most creative and original of contemporary scientists draws together recent advances in astrophysics and up-to-the-minute research to cast a piercing light on man's place in the cosmos.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 6th 1997 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published 1997)
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Either the universe was created expressly to be able to support living beings, or there are many universes.

This extraordinary thesis, the most exciting one of its kind since the Copernican Revolution, is starting to become fairly well-known - but I would hesitate to say it's mainstream yet. If it were, I don't think most supporters of Intelligent Design would still be wasting their time attacking the well-defended fortress of Darwinian Evolution. Instead, they would be concentrating their energi
An interesting post on Many Worlds vs Multiverse:


The last word.

My friend Elisa is a born story teller and they are always prefaced with either 'this is a true story' or 'this is a really true story'.

In the spirit of Elisa, this is a true story.

Late of a night in Geneva, should you happen to be walking the streets, you'll come upon huddled, sobbing shambles of human beings, bottle in hand, tragic tale to tell. They'll stop you and start ask
Nick Black
one problem was that i thought this was published recently (ie, 2008 or later), and was thus stunned by its out-of-date assessments of, say, Sag A* or Λ/Ω_Λ or gamma ray bursters. the superstring/multiverse stuff is thrown in pretty arbitrarily, and developed to no further than a Kaku level of complexity. the mandelbrot set is referenced towards the end in what seems a perverse quest for keyword search satisfaction and reads like a sixteen year old's journal entry fresh off reading some crichton ...more
As the author says, this book presents an individual view of cosmology: how we perceive our universe, what the cosmological debates are about, and the scope and limits of our future knowledge. While cosmology and its companion science, quantum mechanics, have advanced considerably since this book first appeared in 1997, thanks to the WMAP project and a host of discoveries made by the good offices of our increasingly advanced ground-based and space-based telescopes, this book is still very much w ...more
Martin Rees did a good job of explaining what theories are out there, what supports them and why, with the alternative points of view. Throughout this book, he was careful to present the facts in a clear, unbiased manner, all the while giving the reader a good basis to reach their own conclusions.

He did not claim to have all the answers or anything close to that. He took the attitude that we we think today makes sense to us from our investigations; what we think later will depend on what we have
Preston Kutney
I admit, the majority of the content of this book went right over my head. The author is a leading astrophysicist who studied with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge, and the book is an overview of how the universe formed. The theoretical physics involved in the first 10^-30th second of the Big Bang is incredible, but pretty dense and there was quite a bit that I skimmed. However, the author's conclusion presented in the final two chapters is phenomenal. Here is the introduction to that conclusion:

Wendell Jones
A great read. Rees is a recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Astrophysics (along with three others). He is a mover and shaker in British scientific circles. He had the same doctoral advisor as Stephen Hawking, and Hawking wrote a foreword for the book. His writing style is excellent and, unlke other authors, doesn't bury you with equations, etc. The book's payoff is in the last chapters. Rees won the Nobel Prize for his work in the 90s on the "accelerating universe". Nice discussions of peopl ...more
For a self-proclaimed atheist, Rees makes the best argument (from a cosmological perspective) I've ever seen for the existence of God. Rees' work is way better than anything by Stephen Hawking.

I only give this four stars because, of course, Rees' conclusions are all wrong. To avoid acknowledging a Creator, Rees decides that our exquisitely fine-tuned Universe must be one of an infinite number of universes (the "Multiverse" argument). Takes a lot more faith than just believing what the Bible tell
Older book, that I had tried to read when I was 12, and only returned to in the last year. It was very accessible for a lay person such as myself, explaining concepts without overwhelming amounts of math. It also gave a sort of history of astrophysics and cosmology. It didn't get me hooked or wow me with its manner of explaining things. However, it's well-organized, approachable, and worth reading for an introduction to cosmology and astrophysics.
Thomas A Wiebe
This book is much better than average in both describing current cosmology and particularly in carefully differentiating between the evidence for current theories and the more speculative aspects of particularly early cosmology. Most books in this genre fall too easily into the overly authoritative pose, as if it is all but figured out; this author is much more respectful of his subject and his audience.
William III
An excellent cosmology primer, well-written for the lay-person and well compiled to read straight through as well as for use as a reference tome. Personally, I am not in the "string theory" camp so I did reject some of the paths the book took, but aside from that, it is an excellent surface discussion of what we do and don't know, and what both of those can tell us as we continue to search.
Nov 02, 2008 Alfred rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alfred by:
Very good survey of the field of astrophysics. If you ever wanted to know how heavy a star has to be to collapse into a black hole and "that kinda stuff", this book will teach you the current understanding of how universes are created and destroyed. I'm tempted to start my own universe with different constants just to play around with it myself.
An incredible book about current ideas in cosmology and multoverse. Completely accessible, and well written. Rees has the remerkable ability of taking some very abstract concepts and make them digestable, much like Carl Sagan had the ability to do.
What if every black hole can spawn another universe with its own laws and constants?
Jonathan Chuang
Ditched. A little too dumbed-down and slow-paced.
My favorite book of alllllll time.

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  • The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
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  • Wrinkles in Time
  • Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law
  • Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations With Remarkable People
  • Quantum Theory
  • The Future of Spacetime
  • The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity
  • Relativity Simply Explained
  • Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature
  • Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare: An Ecologist's Perspective
  • The Anthropic Cosmological Principle
  • The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language
From Wikipedia:

Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, PRS (born June 23, 1942 in York) is an English cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He became President of the Royal Society on December 1, 2005.
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