Nick Black's Reviews > Before The Beginning: Our Universe And Others

Before The Beginning by Martin J. Rees
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's review
Apr 27, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: snap-crackle-pop-science
Recommended to Nick by: Manny
Read from April 29 to 30, 2011 — I own a copy

one problem was that i thought this was published recently (ie, 2008 or later), and was thus stunned by its out-of-date assessments of, say, Sag A* or Λ/Ω_Λ or gamma ray bursters.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. this just doesn't cut it if you've done any serious reading in astrophysics and cosmology, sorry.

as a pop science book, i give it two stars. it gets another one for amazingly obscure epigraphs heading each chapter, and a deliciously snarky attitude regarding 20th century astrophysics. in particular, his commentary on the COBE effort, refusing to even mention Smoot's name, perfectly captures the vituperative attitude my astrophysicist crew seems to harbor towards 2006's vainglorious Nobel Laureate.

Manny, your recommendation has failed me. It shall not be forgotten.
Manny's review was very enticing, though I'm rapidly approaching the point in my life where reading yet another pop cosmology book will cause me to collapse in on my own gravity, and not even light will be capable of escaping my volume hrmmrmph.
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Reading Progress

04/30/2011 page 238
78.0% "i like the idea that a universe with more than 1 time dimension would need dramatically different tenses"

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Manny Thank you for the kind words! And this is only just barely a pop cosmology book... it's basically a serious book where he's taken out the equations and replaced them with descriptions. I promise you'll notice the difference :)

message 2: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hah!

Manny Oh dear. But... this was the original multiverse book, wasn't it? Who was making this pitch in a serious way before him? Okay, the idea has been developed since then, but I remain to be convinced that the superstring/Landscape angle is an improvement - personally, I would say it confuses the issue more than it clarifies it. I thought he did a good job of presenting the core argument as based on uncontroversial data.

About Λ/Ω_Λ, I did warn you in my review that it was written before the discovery of Dark Energy. Though I thought he was very receptive to the possibility of a non-zero value of Λ. And why is Sag A* so important?

message 4: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma Weine So what would YOU honestly recommend as a readable pop sci book that IS current?? I'm desperately looking for "the one"! Would much appreciate your advice.

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