In Search of the Multiverse by John Gribbin

In Search of the Multiverse, John Gribbin, book review

  • Title: In Search of the Multiverse; parallel worlds, hidden dimensions, and the ultimate quest for the frontiers of reality
  • Author: John Gribbin
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,  2009
  • Pages: 228
  • ISBN: 9780470613528

I’ve been interested in the idea of parallel universes for a while now… I feel like I was interested in it for a year or a couple years, but what REALLY sparked my interest and made me look up non-fiction books about the idea of parallel universes was when I recently read The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy by Robert Sawyer. I found this book just by searching Amazon, and it seemed like a good place to start. I ended up buying it when I found a copy in B&N, and it was definitely a good choice.
 
Let me mention that I have little to no science background… I was horrible at math as a kid, and I was okay with basic science but once I got into the realm of physics and chemistry and stuff I wasn’t that great. I avoided stuff like that whenever possible. So the fact that this book was about physics, quantum physics, astronomy, string theory and such in relation to the idea of a multiverse and that I actually UNDERSTOOD most of it is quite impressive. John Gribbin does a FANTASTIC job at making this stuff easily readable and understandable. And not only that, but I actually enjoyed reading it. I often got so wrapped up in reading it that I’d forget to take a sip of coffee from the cup right next to me, and I always looked forward to getting time to read more.
 
So, the multiverse. The multiverse is essentially multiple universes. Gribbin goes through a bunch of the theories of how exactly the multiverse is structured, but the fact that our universe is not the only one is a certainty, thanks to quantum computers. Gribbin tackles each multiverse theory and explains how each one came about, and how much validity the theory really has when held up to what we now know about science, the universe, and quantum physics. I am not even going to attempt to describe them all here, but I will say that there were a couple theories of the multiverse that I disagree with, and that string theory is really appealing, and I can’t wait to see if scientific tests can prove any of it. 
 
The idea of the multiverse is fascinating – there are essentially an infinite number of different universes, some vastly different from our own and some only a little different. So, I think that if you’re looking for an “intro” book into this subject, this is a good start. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to list my likes and dislikes about the book:
 
LIKES
 
~ Gribbin never assumes that you just know about thermodynamics, or quantum physics, or astronomy beyond our solar system, etc. He’s really good about giving background information to explain the theory he’s discussing.

~ The subject matter is so interesting and takes so much imagine that it was actually fun to read. Some science books, no matter how initially interesting, are a bore to read. Not the case here.
 
~ He comes up with a lot of analogies and metaphors to help you wrap your head around some of the really difficult concepts. He’s very good at helping you to visualize what he’s talking about.
 
~ He makes a lot of references to other scientists, books about these topics, and even sci-fi novels that talk about these topics. He also includes a “Further Reading” list in the back, which includes non-fiction as well as fiction.
 
~ There’s a glossary in the back, which I found really helpful.
 
~ Gribbin really seems to address a LOT of multiverse theories – even the outlandish theories that our universe is “fake”, like in the Matrix, or that our universe is the creation of some super-intelligent other species. I thought it was fun that he took the time to address even these theories, and talked about the science that disproves them or not.
 
DISLIKES
 
~ There were a couple terms that I thought should have been included in the glossary, such as “massless spin-2 boson” or his definition of the word “meta-universe”. It took me forever to figure out what he meant by that, because it was different than a multiverse.
 
~ I wish that there was an appendix or something that actually listed each theory discussed in the book, with a brief description of each one. It would be a nice reference tool. 
 

This is one of those subjects in which I knew nothing about to start with, so it’s not as if I could claim that any of Gribbin’s information is inaccurate or wrong, but from what I can tell he does a really good job of presenting the theories clearly. He also usually points out flaws or issues with a particular theory and explains why, usually leading as a segway into the next theory. And he admits when he has on opinion about a subject, which I appreciate. In a way, by admitting his opinions or preferences for some of this information, it makes him seem less biased, not more.
 
Anyways, I’m rambling. This was a REALLY good book. It was only about 200 pages, and I probably would have had it finished almost a week ago if my little sister and nephew hadn’t come into town. I did do a whole lot of underlining and note-taking, and even went on youtube to watch informational clips if I wasn’t really understanding a concept. In fact, two people I know already want to borrow it to read, but I may just buy a 2nd copy to lend out because there are pencil marks and post-its all over my copy. I also loved talking to the honeyman about whatever part of the book I was reading, since he was already familiar with some of these concepts. The whole realm of quantum physics and multiverse theories is still intensely interesting for me, and I’ve already purchased a couple more books in those areas to read. And I’m absolutely going to purchase some more of John Gribbin’s books – I already have a bunch on my paperbackswap wishlist.
 
Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

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4 comments

  1. How interesting! I usually avoid anything to do with science, because I was never very good at it – I did okay in school, but it bored me. However, the idea of multiple universes is intriguing, and Gribbin seems to go about it in a reader-friendly-way. Your review made me quite interested in this topic,so I’m putting this on my to-read list.

    Like

  2. I love reading about the universe and outer space but always find that the books are way too dense and difficult. I’ll have to try this one!

    Like

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