I divided my reading time over the past two months between The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene and The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter in the hopes that I would stumble across some interesting insights, pairing a non-fiction book about the construction of the universe with a science fiction series formed around the discovery of parallel universes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I really had any interesting insights. Based on the physics in The Fabric of the Cosmos I’d say that parallel universes such as the Long Earth haven’t been totally ruled out by science, although they seem to be getting increasingly unlikely. And the technology necessary to access one is still centuries away. It won’t be handmade boxes fueled by potatoes. Much to my disappointment. But anyways.
This is an excellent resource for the non-expert physics buff scrounging the lit-verse for a comprehensive account of the relevant theories of the universe’s construction. Greene is a master of distillation. Complicated ideas are boiled down to their most basic elements, while still keeping it clear that there is much more to the theory. Should you be an expert reader there are reams of detailed mathematical notes in the back. Should you be a non-expert reader you can skip all the notes and not miss out. I was unexpectedly delighted with the pop culture examples Greene employed to make some of the concepts accessible, and found those were some of the more retainable sections of text. I still remember Bart zooming around on his nuclear-powered skateboard (46) and the concept Greene used it to explain, in spite of having watched a total of maybe three Simpsons episodes in my entire life. The diagrams are great. This book has left me feeling like if I were to study it I could pass the entrance exam to the astrophysics course of some prestigious university. Unlike Intuition Pumps, which just left me feeling confused. So confused. Furthermore it was exciting to watch Greene talk about pending developments in physics and be in a time period where many of those results have been realized (the Higgs boson, LIGO) and now we are moving on to the next stage of discovery. I would absolutely read a sequel to this book. Greene frequently name-drops his Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elegant Universe in discussions of concepts and I almost want to track down a copy and read that. His work is that good.
One final note about this particular edition from Vintage: surprisingly tiny printing on very nice quality paper. I feel bad for curling all the corners.