An Elegant Multiverse?

From Research:

Fashion6-brian-greene-0109-fb-87953557 You might think it’s hard to have a conversation with theoretical physicist Brian Greene. His research specialty is superstring theory, the hypothesis that everything in the universe is made up of miniscule, vibrating strands of energy. Luckily for an interviewer, Greene has a knack for explaining difficult concepts to non-scientists. His first book, the best-selling The Elegant Universe, which explains the quest to unify all the laws of nature, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and led to an award-winning PBS series. He is a co-founder of the World Science Festival, an annual event in June whose aim is to make “the esoteric understandable and the familiar fascinating,” which pretty much sums up Greene’s modus operandi. “Science is a living, breathing, exciting, evolving subject,” he says. “A large part of my motivation in reaching out to a general audience is to show people that science is not this finished subject where all of the results are in these thick textbooks that you lug around when you’re taking a science course.” Greene, 48, grew up on the Upper West Side and spent many a rainy day at the Hayden Planetarium, when it was a dark and musty place and not the shiny glass cube it is today. “That definitely played a part in my excitement for these ideas.” But it was the pure beauty of mathematics that really grabbed him. “As a kid I was playing with numbers all the time,” he says. “And when I learned that those numbers could be more than a game, those numbers could actually describe stuff that was out there in the real world, that’s when I was hooked for good.” His latest book, The Hidden Reality, explores another mystery: whether there are other universes beyond ours.

Q. Your new book talks about the concept of a multiverse. Can you explain what that means?

When we hear the word “universe,” we think that means everything: every star, every galaxy, everything that exists. But in physics, we’ve come upon the possibility that what we’ve long thought to be everything may actually only be a small part of something that is much, much bigger. The word “multiverse” refers to that bigger expanse, the new totality of reality, and our universe would be just a piece of that larger whole.

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