Author: Dr. Steven Manly
Publisher:  New Page Books (a division of Career Press)
ISBN:  978-1-60163-129-9
 
Click Here To Purchase Visions of the Multiverse

Branes and bubbles and black holes.  Oh my!
 
University of Rochester professor, Dr. Steven Manly, explores the wild world of theoretical physics in Visions of the Multiverse for the interested, non-postdoctoral level reader.
 
This is not light-reading, however, even though he makes every attempt to engage the reader with quaintly named chapters such as God’s Gambling Problem and Doing a Little Gravity.  But if you enter his exploration of the world of physics you will certainly get quite an introduction to the numerous theories of multiple universes.
 
But first, like the good professor he is, Dr. Manly gives us the physics back-story:  yes, you guessed right – Einstein.  All the relativity theory stuff is provided so that we can take the next (pardon the pun) quantum leap. 
 
So far, so good.
 
Second we enter the bizarre world of quantum physics.  Atoms are really waves and waves, atoms.  Strange but true. 
 
Okay, Dr. Manly, I’m still with you.
 
Next, we look at all the glorious little particles inside atoms.  Quickly, one can get overwhelmed:  quarks, leptons, bosons, gluons, muons, etc.  These things all really exist?  Apparently, they do.  Dr. Manly charmingly describes how physicists prove these particles by doing “auto crash reconstruction”.  Basically, this is colliding things into atoms and seeing what falls out.  Cool beans.  Or neutrinos.  Or quarks. 
 
Wow.  The microscopic is a lot more complicated (not to mention freaky) than when I learned about it in school.  Can we please go macroscopic?
 
Dr.
Manly obliges and finally, we get into the heart of the matter:  how the universe came to be, what it’s doing now, and what it’s going to do in the future.  He explains that the Big Bang Theory is pretty much agreed as true and proven (in some mystical and scary way in the Haldron Collider).  However… there are some big “howevers.”

 
However #1:  The universe appears to be flat when it should be spherical.  He alludes to raisin bread rising as the expansion of the post-Bang.  The raisins should be expanding out in all directions but that isn’t what’s happening.  So what’s up with that?
 
However #2:  We have a CMB problem.  In a nutshell, the CMB (cosmic microwave background) is uniform.  According to our author, it shouldn’t be.  Why?  Because as the universe expands, it reaches thermal equilibrium.  There are sections of the universe that have reached equilibrium that shouldn’t have yet. 
 
Okay, so how do we (and by we, I mean the theoretical physicists) fix this problem?  At this point if it were up to me, I’d mumble something like, “God did it” and go pour myself a hefty glass of wine.
 
Enter the Big Bang Inflation theory.  Dr. Manly warns that this is a bit “mind-blowing”.  Really??  What was all that other stuff he already discussed, kindergarten?  I quietly gathered up the remnants of my cerebral cortex, applied some duct tape, and got back to reading.  If I have this right, he postulates that we are like the Old World Europeans who thought the world was flat because it looked flat to them.  It is a matter of perspective.  We are this little teeny, weeny speck sitting near the edge of the universe.  And so, from our vantage point, the universe just looks flat.   
 
The last portion of the book covers the myriad concepts of possible multiple universes:  the Fecund Multiverse, the Oscillating Big Bang Multiverse, the Ekpyrotic Multiverse, etc.  We get all the weirdness we’d ever want (well, all the weirdness that I’d ever want, you might want to get weirder) with branes and bubbles and whatnot. 
 
The duct tape holding my brain together was straining by the end.  As I finished the last page I looked suspiciously at the book; turning it this way and that.  Funny, it looks pretty solid.  But maybe it just seems solid because both the book, the chair I’m sitting in, and my own body are waves.  Maybe there is a parallel me reading this book in a parallel universe and she, like, totally gets it. 
 
Somehow I don’t think I’m going to look at matter or the great expanse “up there” the same way ever again.
 
Dr. Manly, I bet your students love you.  You’ve managed to teach this self-proclaimed science geek a thing or two and open up my own multiverse.
 
Click Here To Purchase Visions of the Multiverse