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Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes by Dr. Alex Vilenkin

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Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes by Dr. Alex Vilenkin

Cover of Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universe by Dr. Alex Vilenkin

Hill and Wang press

The Bottom Line

Vilenkin does an excellent job of giving the case why modern cosmology looks like it demands a multiverse, interpreted through the lens of the anthropic principle. Though these concepts have not been completely adopted by the scientific community, the anthropic principle is growing acceptance among cosmologists, and this is an exceptional description of why the field seems to be turning in that direction.
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Pros

  • Detailed exploration of modern cosmology.
  • An in-depth look at current big bang models, including eternal inflation.
  • Explains why recent findings in cosmology support a multiverse view.

Cons

  • In this book, Vilenkin supports a growing, but not yet entirely accepted, viewpoint.

Description

  • hardcover, 235 pages
  • 19 Chapters + Prologue, Epilogue, Notes, Acknowledgements, and Index
  • Alex Vilenkin is the Director of the Tufts Institute of Cosmology.

Guide Review - Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes by Dr. Alex Vilenkin

In Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, Alex Vilenkin explains how modern cosmology is turning to the idea of eternal inflation - that quantum fluctuations in the vacuum energy of the universe lead to the formation of many new universes. In this viewpoint, our universe is just one of vastly many which are continually being created and destroyed, creating an immense multiverse of universes.

The question of why our universe has the properties it does becomes easier to answer. There are so many universes that surely some of them would have the properties we observe, and if that's the case, then of course life would develop in only those universes (such as ours) which happen to have the right properties. Our universe is not unique! This is the fundamental basis of the anthropic principle, and Vilenkin makes a strong case that this is direction that modern cosmology is heading.

Vilenkin tackles the major criticism of the anthropic principle - that it cannot be tested. In this section, I think he shoots himself in the foot a bit by pointing out that a similar method of analysis yields the result that the journal Nature will go out of print by the year 6800. This hardly sounds like the sort of precision we hope for ... but in cosmology those sort of error bounds are perfectly acceptable.

In his 1995 analysis, Vilenkin used anthropic arguments to narrow in on a cosmological constant that was much smaller than the bound found years earlier by Stephen Weinberg. At the time, the anthropic principle was very unpopular. With the discovery of a dark energy that matches Vilenkin's prediction, his credibility on the topic has grown tremendously.

Today both cosmologists and string theorists seem to be adopting the anthropic principle, and this book by Vilenkin does a great job of explaining why, in a way that's accessible to the layman.

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