Is our visible universe the only universe? Are there other universes out there, hovering in extra dimensions or so far away that our telescopes could never see them? These sort of questions have been a key element of science fiction for a century, and now modern day scientific theories are proving that the idea of parallel worlds may not be as farfetched as we may have thought. In his book The Hidden Reality, Brian Greene steps up to the plate in order to explain the newest developments in the fields of string theory and multiverse and attempts to show how these new discoveries may prove that the universe is a much bigger place than we originally thought.
I have read all of Brian Greene’s books. Out of all the current popularizers of science, Greene is my favorite. He is more entertaining than Stephan Hawkins, less pretentious than Neal deGrasse Nyson and less spectacle oriented than Michio Kaku. Greene focuses first and foremost on theoretical physics and is more concerned with helping us understand the foundation of these theories in order to help us understand the more complex and exotic implications of them. Unlike Kaku and Nyson, Greene is writing for people who have a relatively solid grasp on science, and even includes long appendices detailing all of the mathematics that helped get to his points. Even though he expects a little effort from the readers, Greene is brilliant at teaching complex concepts using easily grasped metaphors and a driving, logical train of reasoning.
The Hidden Reality differs from Greene’s previous two books in that it is focused mostly on the implications of current theories. While his other books spend a lot of time developing the underpinnings of string theory, quantum mechanics and general relativity, in this book he is assuming that you already have a basic knowledge in these theories and goes from there. That gives the book a more streamlined feel, but can leave the uninitiated a little lost at first. You do not need to be a physicist to enjoy this book, but it helps to have a little background.
The ideas of The Hidden Reality are incredibly thought-provoking. As mentioned above, this book is primarily about the idea of parallel universes. Throughout the book, Greene lays out the nine different types of possible parallel universes and the backing behind them all. Some explanations are more interesting than others, but overall the content is presented in a easy to follow way, leading up to the penultimate theory, known as the holographic universe. Greene spends a lot of time on this theory (as anybody familiar with it would understand) and this time is well spent. By the time the book is over, Greene has thoroughly enlarged your view of the universe and has provided more than enough food for thought to get you through some dull days at work.
I really enjoyed reading this book, but it definitely is for people who have a background in the physics that are involved. If you are just getting interested in string theory and multiverse theory, it would probably be better to start with Greene’s other books first. For anybody who is “initiated”, The Hidden Reality is an exciting and interesting look at the most advanced theories that mankind has yet conceived and what they mean in regards to the true nature of reality.