Parallel Universes: The Search for Other Worlds


Is science fact stranger than science fiction? In an "outrageous ride along the frontiers of science" (New Age Journal), physicist Fred Alan Wolf explores the startling concept of parallel universes - worlds that resemble and perhaps even duplicate our own - and puts a refreshing and illuminating spin on the complex theories challenging our perceptions of the universe. Through such lively examples as a superspace theater and zero-time ghosts, Wolf deftly guides the reader through the paradoxes of today's physics ...
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Is science fact stranger than science fiction? In an "outrageous ride along the frontiers of science" (New Age Journal), physicist Fred Alan Wolf explores the startling concept of parallel universes - worlds that resemble and perhaps even duplicate our own - and puts a refreshing and illuminating spin on the complex theories challenging our perceptions of the universe. Through such lively examples as a superspace theater and zero-time ghosts, Wolf deftly guides the reader through the paradoxes of today's physics to explore a realm of scientific speculation in which black holes are gateways of information between universes, and alter egos spring into existence at the flip of a coin. Wolf explores a future when time travelers will make history - and alter the past - while testing Earth's first time machine; when lucid dreaming and schizophrenia may mark the overlap of parallel universes; when quantum computers may predict the stock market.

The author of the American Book Award-winning Taking the Quantum Leap explains the mind-boggling theory of parallel universes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wolf's readers should get ready for a wild intellectual ride through the convoluted realms of quantum mechanics, relativity, black holes and imaginary time. The physicist ( Starwave ) is a strong proponent of the ``many-worlds'' interpretation of quantum mechanics, and he launches a ferocious assault on conservative scientists who espouse the ``Copenhagen'' interpretation. Essentially, the debate hinges on the role of consciousness in measuring quantum events: Copenhagenists argue that a quantum measurement causes the ``collapse'' of a particle's probability wave, while Wolf claims the act of measuring actually causes the universe to split in two. The equations of relativity and quantum physics support both interpretations. Wolf describes what it would be like to travel through a black hole to a parallel universe; claims that the future must communicate with the present; answers the question of whether the universe had a radius before we started to measure it; and argues that schizophrenics may be in touch with parallel universes. Physics is becoming metaphysics. An enthralling, if somewhat wacky, read. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671696016
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/28/1990
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 598,243
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 17
Quantum Physics: Bringing in an Observer 21
Relativity: Relationships-Weird and Wonderful 22
Cosmology: A Search for the Beginning 22
Psychology: Consciousness and Machine Intelligence 22
Parallel Universes and Communication with the Future 23
Part 1 What Are Parallel Universes? 25
Chapter 1 How Quantum Physics Predicts the Existence of Parallel Universes 30
The New Physics Had Strange Ideas 32
Chapter 2 The Penultimate Experiment: Shooting Through Double Slits 34
The Mystery Persists 37
The Wave Was Not Real 37
Why Parallel Universes Were Invented 38
Chapter 3 Riding the Wave Through Parallel Worlds 40
A Dizzy Atom in an Infinity of Worlds 42
The Quantum Magic Lantern Theater 44
The Electron Exists in Parallel Universes 46
Chapter 4 A Wave Passes Through Copenhagen 47
Trouble in the New Physics 52
The Observer Participates Whether She Wants to or Not 53
Chapter 5 The Meaning of a Quantum Wave Function 56
The Wave Was Invisible 57
The Emperor's New Clothes: The Quantum Wave Function 58
Does the Universe Quantum Jump? 59
Part 2 A Reappraisal: What Happened to the Unity in Universe? 63
Chapter 6 The Business of Isness 68
Infinity, Infinity Everywhere and Not a Spot to Think 69
The First Infinity: A Straight Line 71
Infinity Number 2-It's All Done with Mirrors 72
Chapter 7 How Things That Are Depend on Things That Aren't and How We Aren't Normally Aware That Anything is Any Different 74
Reflections in a Parallel Universe 75
In-Betweenness or Room for One More 76
Reflection 77
Chapter 8 Self-Reference: Isness and Ain'tness 80
It's a Complementary World After All 82
An Example: A Coin in Four Universes 83
Chapter 9 Look Up in the Air-It's Superspace! 88
Superspace! Broadway Theater Style 89
Uncertainty in Superspace 91
What If Newton Was Right? Silly Superspace 93
A Pattern of Order in Superspace: Consciousness Emerging 97
Chapter 10 A Mouse, a Coin, and a Quantum Conspiracy 99
A Conspiracy of Universes 101
Part 3 Inside and Outside: Time Bends and Space Warps 105
Chapter 11 Relativity and Time As a Dimension of Space 112
Primal Time 113
The First Time I Saw Spacetime 113
The Popular Dimension of Time 114
How Time Can Be Viewed as the Fourth Dimension 115
The Democratization of Space and Time 115
A Relativistic Game of Catch 116
What Does a Four-Dimensional Object Look Like? 118
Time Is Space Is Time Is... 118
Chapter 12 Real Time, Zero Time, Imaginary Time and Real Space, and Imaginary Space 120
Invariance in Geometry 121
Invariance in Spacetime 122
Imaginary Space 123
A Change in Time 124
Going Down Fifth Avenue in Spacetime 125
An Ordinary Particle 126
A Zero-Time Ghost 127
An Imaginary Time Superman 129
Chapter 13 Einstein's Parallel Universe 131
If Pythagoras Is Right, Spacetime Is Flat 132
Visualizing a Curved Space 133
Einstein's Curves 137
Einstein Going Around the Bend 138
Measuring Time Warps 140
A Bend in Time Means a Parallel Universe 142
Chapter 14 Black Holes: Gateways to Parallel Universes 144
Space Warps 145
How Space Curvature Creates a Black Hole 146
What Is a Black Hole? 148
Chapter 15 How Black Holes Predicted Parallel Universes 151
My Meeting with a Black Hole Map Maker 152
What's Black and White and Dread All Over? 157
Chapter 16 An Imaginary Journey to Parallel Universes Through a Black Hole 159
Sending Tachyons to Do a Photon's Work 163
How a Rotating Black Hole Is a Bridge to Many Universes 165
An Infinity of Parallel Universes 169
Part 4 "In the Beginning There Was..." 171
The First Inconsistency, Not Enough Time to Start the Universe 174
Inflationary Models 175
Inflation Is Not Enough 175
Parallel Universes Solve Another Problem 177
Chapter 17 The First Observer of the Big Bang 178
The Names of God 179
A Cloud and the Observer Effect 180
The Observer Disturbs and Creates 180
The Grand Prix at the Beginning of Time 181
Time at the Beginning of Time 181
Space Where No One Has Gone Before 182
Black Holes: Another Way to a Parallel Universe 183
The Scale of the Universe 183
Chapter 18 Problems in Eden 185
Singularities Do Not Admit Laws of Physics in Their Domains 186
In the Beginning There Was Uncertainty 189
Chapter 19 The Ground Upon Which the Universe Stood 192
An Electron in an Atom and a Universe in a Universe of Universes 193
The Universe at Time Zero: Energy or Location? 194
Chapter 20 Who Saw What When? 196
The Measure of All Things 197
Classical Gas on the Mind 197
Classical Coin Flipping 198
Quantum Spin Flipping 198
Part 5 How Parallel Universes Predict a New Notion of Time 201
Do Thoughts and Wishes Time Travel? 202
Neutron Star Time Machines 205
Chapter 21 Time Travel 207
Chapter 22 Time Travel Paradox Resolution by Parallel Universes 210
Chapter 23 Clashing Waves of Time 213
Time Is Invisible 214
Classical Physics Has No Time Order 215
Quantum Physics Has No Time Order 217
Time Waves 218
A New Picture of Time 221
Which Future Sends the Message? 222
Me in the Future Talks to Me in the Now 223
Chapter 24 Wheeler's Choice 225
A Photon from the Dawn of Time 226
Experimental Verification of Backward-Through-Time Travel 227
Now Makes the Past 228
Does the Future Influence the Present? 229
Resolving the Paradox: Time Travel and Parallel Universes 231
Time Is Self-Consistently Connected to Parallel Universes 232
Chapter 25 Building a Time Machine 234
Dateline December 3, 2587: Galaxy News Report 236
Dateline December 15, 2587: Galaxy News Report 246
Back to the Present 251
Part 6 Time and Mind in Parallel Universes 253
The Mind in Parallel Worlds 256
Chapter 26 Mind in Parallel Universes 258
Quantum Rules of the Game According to Hoyle 261
A Knight's Alter Egos 265
The Spouse-of-the-Day 269
Chapter 27 Quantum "Two-Timers" and more Messages from the Future 271
How to Violate the Uncertainty Principle: Talk to Yourself in the Future 272
Chapter 28 Taking a Photograph of Another Parallel Universe 274
Get Your Cameras Ready 275
The Rules of Parallel Universe Photography 276
Taking the Photograph of a Parallel World 276
Using Parallel Universes to Predict the Stock Market 280
Chapter 29 How Is something Known? 283
Chapter 30 Quantum Computers and Quantum Ethics 291
Quantum Ethics 292
Chapter 31 Talking to Tomorrow's Parallel Universe 295
The Infinite Number of Parallel Universes...Inside Your Head 296
The Scientist's Brain Is Split by the Atom 297
Information Flows from Past to Present and from Future to Present 298
Chapter 32 Alpha and Omega 300
Both the Future and the Past Exist 302
The Omega Point 304
An Overall View 305
Chapter 33 Reality and Existence 309
Notes 313
Glossary 321
Bibliography 331
Index 339
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2000

    A rocketship ride of a book

    Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a rocketship ride of a book that takes you on a quest for parallel universes. Wolf contemplates how we might perceive these parallel universes, and what it might feel like when we experience the past and future interacting with the present. The extra bonus of this adventure is that Wolf shows you how time is not the steady, measurable thing you thought it was! Time is slippery, because it can't ever be directly observed. Whereas we can measure and then verify a measurement of length or weight repeatedly, measurements of time cannot be easily confirmed. As Wolf points out so succinctly, 'Nowhere is there a value of time associated with an observable called time. As far as the equations are concerned, time is just a convenient ordering parameter -- a way of keeping track of things placed alongside each other in a sequence.' Time travel may well be possible, and you might not even need a time machine to do it! If you love to stretch your mind to understand more of the universe, I highly recommend this book. ...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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