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Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universesby Alex Vilenkin
Synopses & Reviews
Recent discoveries in cosmology have led to a bizarre new worldview that (to paraphrase Niels Bohr) may be crazy enough to be true. Just consider the litany of mind-boggling new ideas being bandied about lately: the acceleration of cosmic expansion, dark energy (on top of dark matter, yet!), primordial "ripples" in space-time, the quantum creation of the universe from nothing, eternal cosmic inflation, multiple universes...Sound crazy enough for you?
Fortunately, the new theoretical advances also lead to testable predictions, and we may soon witness the confirmation of some of these predictions by fresh astronomical findings. Alex Vilenkin's own scientific work has been closely tied to the emergence of the new worldview, from the original ideas to the most recent developments. In Many Worlds in One, he gives an exciting, surprisingly entertaining firsthand account of the birth of the new cosmology, and its fascinating — and at times disturbing — implications.
"Cosmologists ask many difficult questions and often come up with strange answers. In this engagingly written but difficult book, Vilenkin, a Tufts University physicist, does exactly this, discussing the creation of the universe, its likely demise and the growing belief among cosmologists that there are an infinite number of universes. Vilenkin does an impressive job of presenting the background information necessary for lay readers to understand the ideas behind the big bang and related phenomena. Having set the stage, the author then delves into cutting-edge ideas, many of his own devising. He argues persuasively that, thanks to repulsive gravity, the universe is likely to expand forever. He goes on to posit that our universe is but one of an infinite series, many of them populated by our 'clones.' Vilenkin is well aware of the implications of this assertion: 'countless identical civilizations [to ours] are scattered in the infinite expanse of the cosmos. With humankind reduced to absolute cosmic insignificance, our descent from the center of the world is now complete.' Drawing on the work of Stephen Hawking and recent advances in string theory, Vilenkin gives us a great deal to ponder. B&w illus. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Vilenkin is a leading theorist whose scenarios about the enigma of the big bang emerge in this estimably clear, personable treatment." Booklist
"A wonderful tour of modern cosmology, wittily directed by one of the most gifted practitioners of the field. A pleasure to read." Mario Livio, Senior Scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute, and author, most recently, of The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved
"This is remarkable stuff...yet it is neither fantasy nor science fiction. Vilenkin's portrait of the cosmos points to the logical possibility of a multiplicity of universes, events and lives, and leads us to wonder about our own significance in this sea of infinite possibility." Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College of Columbia University, and author of How the Universe Got Its Spots
A Leading Figure in the Development of the New Cosmology Explains What It All Means
Among his peers, Alex Vilenkin is regarded as one of the most imaginative and creative cosmologists of our time. His contributions to our current understanding of the universe include a number of novel ideas, two of which--eternal cosmic inflation and the quantum creation of the universe from nothing--have provided a scientific foundation for the possible existence of multiple universes.
With this book--his first for the general reader--Vilenkin joins another select group: the handful of first-rank scientists who are equally adept at explaining their work to nonspecialists. With engaging, well-paced storytelling, a droll sense of humor, and a generous sprinkling of helpful cartoons, he conjures up a bizarre and fascinating new worldview that--to paraphrase Niels Bohr--just might be crazy enough to be true.
Vilenkin gives an exciting, surprisingly entertaining firsthand account of the birth of the new cosmology, and its fascinating--and at times disturbing--implications.
About the Author
Alex Vilenkin is a professor of physics at Tufts University, where he also serves as director of the Tufts Institute of Cosmology. The author of more than 150 research papers in cosmology, he has introduced a number of novel ideas to the field.
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