Book Review: The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

A word of warning: I highly recommend reading this book in paper form.  It does not work well on e-readers at all.  This is equal parts the author’s fault and equal parts the technology’s fault.  Greene is extremely inconsistent in his use of notes and footnotes.  Some he appends to the end of the chapter and some he appends to the back of the book.  If there is a rhyme or reason to it, I couldn’t figure it out.  And the way they’re tagged it’s impossible to tell the difference between them.  I gave up on them all together because half were asides that added nothing to the knowledge.  Another problem is Greene’s use of pictures.  Often, the picture is pages away from when it is first referenced and then the picture is referenced time and time again in subsequent chapters. This is more a technology problem as a hyperlink can only hyper to one place so you click on a link to a picture and can get back to the first link but every other link goes back to the first spot.  There is also the problem of some pictures taking up entire pages and anywhere you click sends you back to the original link.  This is more of a problem with my reading it on a touchscreen only Kindle.  I cannot count the number of times I found myself scrolling through pages to attempt to get back to where I left off as a result of these deficiencies.  It was a very frustrating read.

Fully titled “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos”, this book explores the incomprehensible world of modern physics with an emphasis on the possibilities of more than one universe.  So yeah, you’re in for some dense reading.  If you have a basic understand of cosmology, though, don’t fret too much.  Yes, some things will be over your head, but Greene is one of the better authors who knows what he is talking about and can condense that knowledge into language that is understandable to the more common folk.

The book thoroughly goes through every possible multiverse/parallel universe scenario thought up by both the human imagination and math.  Since this is a science book, the emphasis is strongly on the latter with more of a hat tip to the former.  Greene structured the book so the easier to wrap your head around stuff comes first and the further you go the more mind-warping the multiverses become.  There is very little actual math in this book, which is a departure from Greene’s other books.  And with very good reason.  The maths necessary to describe what Greene is describing would take pages and pages and likely be books by themselves.  It turns out that figuring things out on a universal level ain’t easy.  Who’da thunk it?

I will share my favorite universal theory because it kind of blew my mind.  It blew my mind both because of its simplicity and because of its obviousness despite the fact I had never heard of it before.  Given: Our universe is infinite. Result: There are an infinite number of me’s writing a blog post about Brian Greene’s book right now.  *pshooo* If that’s too much to wrap your head around, think of it this way: If the universe is sufficiently large, there will be exact duplicate sections of space.  Keep on increasing what “sufficiently large” is and behold another you.  Still lost?  Ok, take a microscopically tiny section of space. Break up the rest of the universe into the microscopically tiny sections of space.  Think there won’t be duplicates?  Now just keep expanding that section of space.  Infinite yous!  And that’s not even counting the number of not-you-yous who are really, really similar to you.

People who are new to Greene should read anything else by him first.  Of the material I have read of his, this is his weakest.  Much of this can be attributed to him taking the esoteric subject of modern physics and choosing to write exclusively about an esoteric topic of that esoteric subject.  Still, the idea of a multiverse is fascinating and this book is a one-stop shopping spot for every angle of attack on the theoretical world that is the multiverse.

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