The Number of the Heavens: A History of the Multiverse and the Quest To Understand the Cosmos

Harvard Univ. Sept. 2019. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674975880. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780674243385. SCI
The 2015 discovery of gravitational waves launched an increase in popular treatments of physics and astronomy topics. What sets this book by Siegfried (Strange Matters) apart from others is the quality of his writing, as well as the direct links he draws between contemporary and ancient views of the multiverse concept. As he notes, the debate on whether there are one or many universes continues among contemporary thinkers. The former editor of Science News, Siegfried attended cutting-edge physics conferences, and draws upon conversations with researchers at the meetings to bring immediacy to the modern-day portions of the book. His reading in medieval philosophy that prompted him to write the book provides an equally solid base.
VERDICT This well-written book explores the concept of more than one universe than ours, drawing on the musings of philosophers, astronomers, and physicists from the ancient Greeks, through medieval thinkers such as Nicolaus Copernicus and Max Planck to Albert Einstein and current cosmologists Rocky Kolb and Joe Lykken. It will intrigue YA readers on up.

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