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Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  5,513 ratings  ·  550 reviews
Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present and future, and through the physics, astronomy and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse. In a dazzling combination of both popular and groundbreaking science, he not ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Vintage (first published January 7th 2012)
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Peter Christensen It's an overview of the history of astronimical and cosmological theories. About the most mathematically challenging things are a) acceptance of reall…moreIt's an overview of the history of astronimical and cosmological theories. About the most mathematically challenging things are a) acceptance of really big (billions of light years) and small (Plank length) numbers, and b) accepting that there are different "sizes" of infinities.

He threads the scientific progress together well, where even if you don't understand a concept (for me it's inflation), it still makes sense in context.(less)
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Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Big Ideas
"Aaargh! No! Make it stop!"

That's my girlfriend, who's just been unwise enough to let me read her a paragraph of this book. But our guest K, a local nuclear physicist, is more tolerant. "Well," she smiles, "it doesn't sound so bad. A bit exciting, a bit populistic..." Blah blah blah. On the other hand, she isn't a native speaker of English.

Okay, let's start by getting the bad news out of the way. Max Tegmark's chatty, informal, slightly manic style is on the irritating side, and if you know some
Emma Sea
I have three things I'd like to say about this book.

1) I accidentally left it behind at a cafe. When I went back it was gone :(
Imagine my surprise when I discovered some nice person had found the book and returned it to the library for me. Thank you, kind human!

2) Tegmark writes fantastically. Wisely, he doesn't try to make the reader *cough me cough* follow his maths, but instead offers URLs for papers offering the mathematical proofs for the concepts he discusses as additional reading, for th
The Mind of God

It starts with Plato, this idea that the universe is a mathematical expression, populated by objects which are (often imperfect) copies of abstract ‘forms’ (the most perfect of which are numbers), which in turn interact according to strict rules of geometry and aesthetic necessity.* More importantly it was Plato who suggested that things are not what they seem. What we are able to perceive are distorted manifestations of eternal truths which are permanently beyond our grasp, leavi
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
An unexpectedly deep perusal of the mathematial nature of this baffling world we find ourselces in. Well-written and rich in ideas to ponder on.
... to me, an electron colliding with a positron and turning into a Z-boson feels about as intuitive as two colliding cars turning into a cruise ship. On microscopic scales, particles schizophrenically appear in two places at once, leading to the quantum conundrums mentioned above. On astronomically large scales —surprise!—weirdness strikes again: if y
David Katzman
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in cutting edge physics and speculative physics
Before I begin, a brief word about physics from a ninja.

This is a book of speculative physics. At the same time it is a mostly lucid walkthrough of the latest theories in physics. It's important to distinguish between theories and speculation. Theories are directly testable. Results of the theories are repeatable. Special and General Relativity are examples of theories that have been demonstrated over and over again. A result is calculated from the theory, an experiment is performed...the result
3.5 stars. This book covers quite a bit of material, topics ranging from astronomy, cosmology, and quantum physics, to far more precarious stuff such as the level IV multiverse and the “Mathematical Universe Hypothesis,” which Tegmark champions rather emphatically. In the beginning of the book (page 13), he includes a helpful diagram that clearly states which chapters are considered “mainstream,” “controversial” and even “extremely controversial.” He’s very upfront about which parts of his book ...more
Manuel Antão
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Stages of Truth: "Our Mathematical Universe - My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality" by Max Tegmark

Forget about Tegmark’s 4 levels. The stages of truth I can remember are:

• Old Greeks saying "We only see a faint reflection of reality", i.e. we have observation, and that's flawed.
• Old Chinese saying "All we have is observation. Reality is observation, and observation is a function of the human form" which is a most interestin
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a complex and very interesting book, addressing many important questions about the fundamental nature of reality.

The author adopts (and convincingly explains) a particular version of mathematical Neo-Platonism stating that reality is essentially nothing but mathematical structures. His position might be classified as a form of mathematical “monism” (as it essentially denies ontological reality to anything except mathematical objects). From a philosophical perspective, the author can be
The first half of this book is a review of modern physics on the macro and micro scales. The second half of this book is a discussion of the author's speculation, that the universe is a mathematical structure. Max Tegmark is quite clear--he is not saying that the universe is described by mathematics, but that the universe is mathematics. He calls this the "Mathematical Universe Hypothesis", or "MUH" for short.

Tegmark asserts that this idea is a testable, falsifiable hypothesis. I did not find th
The thesis of this book is nothing but a giant exercise in circular reasoning.

Max Tegmark calls his idea the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, that the external physical reality described by the Theory of Everything is a mathematical structure. He starts off by, I kid you not, assuming that the external physical reality is a mathematical structure.

This radical idea, that reality is "made of math" is embodied in the title of the book, but nowhere within the pages is there any logical argument in
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
The title makes one feel this will be a daunting read and at times it is, but Tegmark starts out in a clear concise fashion reviewing current cosmological concepts. He provides detail on mapping the cosmic microwave-background radiation including his own considerable involvement. He describes how it mirrors our present day universe which maintains the background radiation’s uniform temperatures and densities. This leads to Alan Guth’s theory of inflation which explains the uniformity, flatness a ...more
The first half of the book is a basic overview of modern physics and i moved through it quickly. He explores the current multiverse scenario in here. He classifies the multiverse into four categories. Level I multiverse consists of all the objects that lie beyond our cosmological horizon. Level II multiverse apparently consists of infinite number of Level I multiverses produced by inflation with different physical constants. Level III multiverse comes from the Everett interpretation of quantum m ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 rounded up). At first the style was a bit irrritating but the contents made up for it. See also this review, which goes into much more detail on this whole book.

Some extra considerations:

- In the first part, I especially liked the clear rationale for introducing inflation as "the gift that keeps on giving".

-I am puzzled by the "reality is a mathematical structure" story. What else would it be? Mathematically/logically speaking, if you have a theory describing reality it must be mathemati
Richard Palmer
I really wanted to like this book.

The promise of tying together concepts of modern physics with mathematics and a philosophy of what life and the universe are all about kept me going.

I did appreciate the enthusiasm and energy that Tegmark has for his field. Unfortunately, this came through a bit too often as being full of himself.

When it got to layman's term explanations of quantum physics and relativity, the wording was either too brief or too obscure. I recognized that a lot has been accomplis
John Gribbin
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our Mathematical Universe
Max Tegmark

Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT, is a leading proponent of the idea of the multiverse, familiar to many as the “parallel worlds” of science fiction, but taken increasingly seriously by sober scientific theorists. Several variations on the theme tell us that there must be an infinite number of versions of our Universe (capital “U”), other universes (small “u”), some indistinguishable from our own, some with minor differences, many with significant dif
Brian Clegg
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find myself in the strange position of awarding five stars to a book that has plenty of content with which I disagree. The detail of that will come up later, but the reason that I can still confidently give this book five stars is that it is a great read, covers some less controversial aspects of physics and cosmology very well and where Max Tegmark strays into concepts that many don't accept, he does so in a way that really makes you think, and analyse just why these concepts seem so unlikely ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you find the concept of multiverses interesting, wonder whether consciousness is a quantum computer (view spoiler) and don't mind having your brain twisted in a pretzel, then you might find this book a fun read. ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-science
Excellent, philosophical, mind-blowing, high-flying, provocative. We and everything are just part of an "eternal" and "primary" equation. ...more
The human mind has constantly underestimated the size of our world and universe, while, at the same time, the human mind has constantly underestimated the chances of understanding it. Max Tegmark, one of the leading physicists in the world, explains theories about the universe and offer alternative conclusions which are considered controversial, but gain more and more acceptance and respect. He doesn't think the universe can be described by mathematics, he thinks it is mathematics. The smallest ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Khalil by: Manny
Shelves: science, physics
All bad books are alike , each good book is good in its way\s (I think Tolstoy will forgive me for stealing his most famous quote.As the rating indicates, we are in the second state, good book, or rather a fucking unbelievable amazing good and fresh book.

Max Tegmark is(as I see him) the Pythagorean of our era.Pythagoras and his students were interested in the mysticism of numbers, realizing that when odd numbers starting from one are added together, the sum is always a square number. From here,
Mohamed al-Jamri
This is Max Tegmark's first and only book so far. In the book, Max who likes to be called Mad Max proposes a really "mad" theory of everything called the "mathematical universe hypothesis" in which he argues that the ultimate nature of reality is mathematics. He also argues strongly for the multiverse idea, making it somewhat plausible.

The book is written with a mostly smooth and easy to understand narrative style that is often combined with inspirational quotations. It is from books like this t
Martin Lesser
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tegmark is currently a physics professor at MIT. His undergraduate education was at KTH in Stockholm. He did graduate work in Cosmology at Berkley and spent some time at Princeton working with John Wheeler. In this book he reviews many of the extraordinary results, obtained in the last few decades, of research into the origins of the Universe. The later part of the book is much more speculative and even metaphysical. Many in the physics community may find some of his ideas out of the bounds of t ...more
Anuraag Sharma
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
For youngsters, learning a global language and typing should trump long division and writing cursive.
In the Internet age, my own role as a classroom teacher has changed.
I’m no longer needed as a conduit of information, which my students can simply download on their own.
Rather, my key role is inspiring a scientific lifestyle, curiosity and desire to learn more.
A Wild Ride With Mad Max

Alfred North Whitehead famously said that philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. Welcome to yet another footnote, as the thesis of this book, in the author’s words, “can be viewed as a form of radical Platonism, asserting that all the mathematical structures in Plato’s ‘realm of ideas’ exist ‘out there’ in a physical sense.” In other words, there is no physical reality, just pure mathematics.

This book is a fun ride for those with a reasonable understanding of physi
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating exploration into our vast Universe that transcends all boundaries, by transporting you to remarkable heights!

This book is an exceptionally eye-opening read containing new, fresh concepts and unbelievable {sometimes shocking} insights. ‘Our Mathematical universe’ covers topics such as cosmology,unique philosophy and the nature of reality. It delves into scientific topics such as ‘the Big Bang’ and the beginning of creation and life itself, to our future and the existence of paralle
Menglong Youk
My reaction of the book:

The first one fourth: Well, I am already familiar with the history of Astronomy and Cosmology, but it's okay; it'll be treated as reminder.

Inflation part: Ah, that part is not really as complicated as it sounds at the first time. I could grasp its contents a bit better now.

The four different levels of multiverses: Okay, it's starting getting serious and I don't understand anything.

Mathematical Universe: Well, I'm still an idiot after all. What he said about maths doesn't
Ivan Vuković
As a physics student, I'm constantly searching for extraordinary books with wild enough ideas to help me choose my path in physics and drive me mad with brilliant questions and mind-boggling theories about the nature of Nature.

Unfortunately, those books are rare gems... but this is definitely one of them. Tegmark did a great job at merging physics and mathematics in the most awesomely beautiful and extraordinarily simple way imaginable and I'm so glad I came across this book of his.

Highly recom
Kara Babcock
Who doesn’t like a good controversy in their popular science books? What’s a philosophical theory about the nature of the universe if it doesn’t ruffle some feathers? No one wants to write a book and then have everyone turn around and shrug at you. That doesn’t sell! So it’s not really surprising that Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality is a controversial book by a somewhat controversial physicist. I received this as a Christmas gift a few years ago, and that w ...more
Sally Ember
Bet he wishes he had waited about 6 months to publish it, to rewrite the sections related to microwaves, inflationary multiverse and mathematical proofs of that and more info about dark matter/dark energy!

Fantastically interesting, inspiring, and almost comprehensible to this non-physicist, non-advanced-mathematician! Recommended highly if these topics interest you!

My favorite parts, quoted or summarized, below (numbers after each = character counts, for my Tweeting plans):

Quotes and Info
p. 122
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is going to be a looooong review.

First of all, I liked this book (obvious from the rating, right?) But it got me very annoyed a few times.

The right mindset to read this book is to imagine that you met a very cool, very talkative and apparently very smart physicist in a bar. You had a few beers and then dared to say: "Well, tell me about physics... what's that? why do you like it?" Since bar conversations are not super structured, he started with history. "Man, imagine how other guys figure
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Max Erik Tegmark is a Swedish-American physicist, cosmologist and machine learning researcher. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute.

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