Visions of the Multiverse, by Dr. Steven Manly (Softcover, 2011)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
I like Dr. Manly's style. It's obvious he enjoys writing. I enjoyed reading
what he wrote.
This book takes a non-academic approach to explaining various theories of
some of the toughest of academic topics, such as particle physics and cosmology.
Dr. Manly communicates the essence of these theories clearly, despite not using
the math that normally forms the basis for discussion.
The idea of multiple universes doesn't appeal to me, and I agree with the
view Dr. Manly had before he wrote this book. However, that particular twist
makes a compelling reason to read the book. The bulk of it covers the supporting
topics, which we might consider mainstream physics and cosmology. I've read many
books on these topics, partly because it took many books before I could have a
reasonably full grasp of these topics.
For someone who is new to these areas of science, this book would be an
excellent introduction. It isn't particularly deep, but it does have enough
depth to be educational. Its breadth is necessary, I think, to prepare the
reader for the multiverse concepts Dr. Manly explores.
It didn't surprise me when I read the About the Author part and learned he
teaches introductory physics at the University of Rochester. This book is geared
toward that demographic. Without being "dumbed down," the book is introductory
in scope, content, and tone. He also has a direct writing style, as opposed to
the passive voice commonly used in works targeted toward higher academics.
As a reader, I never felt insulted or condescended to. I could feel Dr.
Manly's enthusiasm for the subject as I read, too. This is one of those works of
nonfiction that you can read strictly for enjoyment, if you want to.
This book consists of nine chapters and two appendices spanning 240 pages. It
also has an index, extensive notes, and an extensive bibliography.
Chapter one explains the story of Copernicus and his revolutionary effect on
how the western world viewed the universe. Chapter two gives an overview of how
our current view of space-time came to be. Chapter three delves into the
sometimes confusing subject of particles and waves, a topic that seemed
straightforward until de Broglie put his two cents in. Dr. Manly manages to
discuss all of this without leaving the reader confused.
The rest of the book goes a little deeper into particle physics but mostly
builds on the multiverse theme as the title promises. Just in case you didn't
catch all of the main points, Appendix A presents them in abbreviated form. For
those who want a structured view of multiverse theories, Appendix B looks at
Tegmark's taxonomy. It has four levels, so it's a quick read.
Add this book to your reading list, if you don't have a copy yet. It could
make for some interesting dinner conversations.