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An Infinity of Worlds: Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe

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What happened before the primordial fire of the Big Bang: a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe. In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe--the Big Bang--was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century What happened before the primordial fire of the Big Bang: a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe. In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe--the Big Bang--was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century science. And yet it leaves many questions unanswered: Why is the universe so big? Why is it so old? What is the origin of structure in the cosmos? In An Infinity of Worlds, physicist Will Kinney explains a more recent theory that may hold the answers to these questions and even explain the ultimate origins of the universe: cosmic inflation, before the primordial fire of the Big Bang. Kinney argues that cosmic inflation is a transformational idea in cosmology, changing our picture of the basic structure of the cosmos and raising unavoidable questions about what we mean by a scientific theory. He explains that inflation is a remarkable unification of inner space and outer space, in which the physics of the very large (the cosmos) meets the physics of the very small (elementary particles and fields), closing in a full circle at the first moment of time. With quantum uncertainty its fundamental feature, this new picture of cosmic origins introduces the possibility that the origin of the universe was of a quantum nature. Kinney considers the consequences of eternal cosmic inflation. Can we come to terms with the possibility that our entire observable universe is one of infinitely many, forever hidden from our view?


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What happened before the primordial fire of the Big Bang: a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe. In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe--the Big Bang--was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century What happened before the primordial fire of the Big Bang: a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe. In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe--the Big Bang--was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century science. And yet it leaves many questions unanswered: Why is the universe so big? Why is it so old? What is the origin of structure in the cosmos? In An Infinity of Worlds, physicist Will Kinney explains a more recent theory that may hold the answers to these questions and even explain the ultimate origins of the universe: cosmic inflation, before the primordial fire of the Big Bang. Kinney argues that cosmic inflation is a transformational idea in cosmology, changing our picture of the basic structure of the cosmos and raising unavoidable questions about what we mean by a scientific theory. He explains that inflation is a remarkable unification of inner space and outer space, in which the physics of the very large (the cosmos) meets the physics of the very small (elementary particles and fields), closing in a full circle at the first moment of time. With quantum uncertainty its fundamental feature, this new picture of cosmic origins introduces the possibility that the origin of the universe was of a quantum nature. Kinney considers the consequences of eternal cosmic inflation. Can we come to terms with the possibility that our entire observable universe is one of infinitely many, forever hidden from our view?

40 review for An Infinity of Worlds: Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    "God is infinite, so His universe must be too.... He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds." Giordano Bruno First book I read in detail about the early universe and its formation. I've always wondered what was before Big Bang but it looks like scientists are still wondering too. A lot has been discovered but way much more remains unanswered, and probably will remain so forever. It was a fasc "God is infinite, so His universe must be too.... He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds." Giordano Bruno First book I read in detail about the early universe and its formation. I've always wondered what was before Big Bang but it looks like scientists are still wondering too. A lot has been discovered but way much more remains unanswered, and probably will remain so forever. It was a fascinating and intriguing read, especially the theory about the multiverse. Up until chapter 6 it was quite easy to read, but afterwards it almost lost me: I'm no physicist and all those equations accompanying explanations of various principles where over my head. The writing is smooth but overall it sounds like a course in higher physics. You have to have more than basic knowledge to grasp everything in this book. I still recommend it you are interested in the subject. >>> ARC received thanks to  MIT Press  via NetGalley <<<

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    There is something rather odd about this book on cosmic inflation. Will Kinney assumes a considerable amount of foreknowledge in the reader - for example, he uses electron volts as a unit of energy without unpacking the concept and throws in everything from 'the unification of strong and electroweak forces' to 'the Hawking radiation of black holes' as if these are topics with which the reader will be comfortably familiar, no explanation needed. The problem with this is, if you know that much, yo There is something rather odd about this book on cosmic inflation. Will Kinney assumes a considerable amount of foreknowledge in the reader - for example, he uses electron volts as a unit of energy without unpacking the concept and throws in everything from 'the unification of strong and electroweak forces' to 'the Hawking radiation of black holes' as if these are topics with which the reader will be comfortably familiar, no explanation needed. The problem with this is, if you know that much, you are probably pretty clued in on the basics of cosmic inflation too, so I'm not sure who the target reader of this book is. This is not helped by a series of light cone-based diagrams that convey nothing much at all. Inflation is a strange subject. It's a patch to fix the Big Bang theory so it can cope with the way that the universe is unexpectedly homogenous and flat (in the sense of (not) curved space), a patch that has limited evidence to back it up. Kinney emphasises where inflation makes confirmed predictions, but also notes that it has its failings - it's the kind of topic where speculation tends to be piled on speculation. An Infinity of Worlds does quite a good job of explaining the nature of inflation, but, as tends to be the case in books on this topic, it is less successful on making symmetry breaking and eternal inflation accessible and comprehensible. Kinney sometimes throws aspects of current theory into the mix without justifying them. So, for example, a lot of the early discussion in the book is based on the cosmological principle without saying why we should assume the cosmological principle holds. It's just given as a sort of cosmological axiom. The book is also strangely selective in what it questions. We read in the preface that Kinney 'has chosen to give short shrift to theories of modified gravity…' - but it seems odd to treat dark matter in this way when the whole basis of the book - inflation - is described as 'a highly speculative idea'. The degree to which dark matter is also speculative and only partly matches observation, yet is built into the assumptions, really ought to have been included. Overall, then, some interesting content, but An Infinity of Worlds is unlikely to satisfy either the beginner wanting to understand inflation from scratch, or someone who has already read widely and wants a more hands-dirty exploration of inflation's nuts, bolts, context and failings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex Nagler

    A thorough astrophysics primer, going from the simple to the incredible complex over the course of the book. The diagrams are very, very beneficial in explaining the concepts, detailing the discussed concepts in easier to comprehend ways.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    An Infinity of Worlds is a dense and thorough, though not long, overview of inflation, the scientific theory that the "Big Bang" was caused by the sudden expansion of the nascent universe by immense scales. Kinney, a physicist who has been intimately involved in the study of inflationary theories (there is more than one version), further shows that inflation almost inevitably leads not to just one universe, but a whole multiverse filled with infinitely many universes like, and unlike, ours. An Infinity of Worlds is a dense and thorough, though not long, overview of inflation, the scientific theory that the "Big Bang" was caused by the sudden expansion of the nascent universe by immense scales. Kinney, a physicist who has been intimately involved in the study of inflationary theories (there is more than one version), further shows that inflation almost inevitably leads not to just one universe, but a whole multiverse filled with infinitely many universes like, and unlike, ours. This not a book, perhaps, for the reader who is a novice to cosmology, though it is well and clearly written. It is admirably thorough, but does get technical in a number of places, and does contain the dreaded equations. I admit that my eyes glazed over at times. But that is not Kinney’s fault, or takes away the worth of the book. Its intended audience simply is not quite “general”; though an advanced degree might not be necessary to understand it, some prior familiarity with the concepts is definitely useful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Wenger

    This book focuses on cosmic inflation and other theories about the origin of the universe. The writing style is one of logical arguments rather than storytelling. For this reason, the book reads more like a textbook than like a book meant for a lay audience. I did learn some things, but I'm going to have to read it again to get a full understanding of the concepts and arguments. Fortunately, the book is short, so rereading it won't be a chore. If you want to know more about the latest theories r This book focuses on cosmic inflation and other theories about the origin of the universe. The writing style is one of logical arguments rather than storytelling. For this reason, the book reads more like a textbook than like a book meant for a lay audience. I did learn some things, but I'm going to have to read it again to get a full understanding of the concepts and arguments. Fortunately, the book is short, so rereading it won't be a chore. If you want to know more about the latest theories regarding the Big Bang and cosmic inflation, this book is worth a read. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Todd Pinchevsky

    Although I think Prof. Kinney referred to this book as a "popular science" book on a podcast recently, that's not what I found. Although not heavy in the math, it still seemed pretty technical to me (just a hobbyist). That being said, and as someone who has done a bit of self-study, it did clear up for me the concept of inflation (mostly). But it was a bit of a dry read. Just could have used some flourishes (which may just be to my personal liking - I enjoy armchair philosophy along with my phys Although I think Prof. Kinney referred to this book as a "popular science" book on a podcast recently, that's not what I found. Although not heavy in the math, it still seemed pretty technical to me (just a hobbyist). That being said, and as someone who has done a bit of self-study, it did clear up for me the concept of inflation (mostly). But it was a bit of a dry read. Just could have used some flourishes (which may just be to my personal liking - I enjoy armchair philosophy along with my physics). Still, I felt I learned a lot about inflation, the Higgs field, symmetry/unstable and stable states, Mexican hats, and beer bubbles as an example of the multi-verse.

  7. 4 out of 5

    WorldconReader

    The book "An Infinity of Worlds" by Dr. Will Kinney (Professor in the Department of Physics at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York) uses quantum theory to explain the origin of the universe with an emphasis on the theory of inflation (expansion of the universe) in the first few seconds of the universe. By choosing to read this book, I anticipated a review of traditional cosmology to brush up and learn a bit more about the field. I got much more than I anticipated. In addit The book "An Infinity of Worlds" by Dr. Will Kinney (Professor in the Department of Physics at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York) uses quantum theory to explain the origin of the universe with an emphasis on the theory of inflation (expansion of the universe) in the first few seconds of the universe. By choosing to read this book, I anticipated a review of traditional cosmology to brush up and learn a bit more about the field. I got much more than I anticipated. In addition to learning a few straight-forward tidbits about astrophysics, I was also exposed to a number of new quantum theories on the origins of the universe. I don't feel qualified to repeat anything about quantum physics, but regarding more traditional physics, I now finally understand why the phrase "light cone" is used. After reading about this many times before, I always thought the correct phrase should be "light sphere", but I now know that it is called a "light cone" because in a 3-d graph, one axis is time, and the other two represent space, hence the possible places that a photon could travel form a cone. (Rather than a snapshot I imagined a simple growing sphere of where a photon could be in 3-d space) The other thing I learned was that I too mistakenly thought that the Big Bang started out as an infinitely small point in space, The author smoothly addressed several of my concerns within the text as I read it. For example, reading the first explanation of dark energy increasing as the universe expands, I paused to think about it for a moment, concluding that it seems very wrong. The very next sentence was: "If this seems to violate the conservation of energy, that's because it does." Later on in the book, I was wondering how the "cool" post inflation universe becomes the "hot" universe we expect at that point in history. There the author reassuringly wrote that "The details of this "reheating" process depend mostly on unknown physics." I say, "reassuringly" as much of the discussions of quantum mechanics are not clear to this reader, so each time I read that certain processes are not yet understood, it makes me feel better for not intuitively grasping either quantum mechanics or several chapters of this book. (Well, that and the oft heard quote: "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics".) I definitely encourage readers that like astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and learning new things to consider this book. For those of us without a graduate degree in quantum mechanics, I would suggest starting with the glossary and pondering Wikipedia for any items that are not immediately clear. The "Further Reading" section also has some excellent suggestions of other related books. I would like to thank Dr. Will Kinney and the MIT Press for graciously providing a temporary electronic review copy of this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elmo Jose

  9. 5 out of 5

    Imrankhan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carsten

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zamora GI

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stevie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roo Phillips

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ronak Gupta

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex Helm

  20. 4 out of 5

    JSG

  21. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

  22. 5 out of 5

    Colin Phillips

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eliza-Bianca S.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gary Barnes

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emrys

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew DeMarco-Layton

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elise

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michele Marchini

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nick Drachman

  31. 4 out of 5

    Alarice Hansberry

  32. 4 out of 5

    Marios Kal

  33. 5 out of 5

    Aporias

  34. 5 out of 5

    Aziz Sihweil

  35. 5 out of 5

    Gustavo

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jānis Vīksne

  37. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kristof

  39. 4 out of 5

    Nepomuk

  40. 4 out of 5

    Robin

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