Book Review: Parallel World

Hello there! It’s been a while since I posted any English article here. Now I’m going to review a book that I bet would make you hypnotized with its unthinkable ideas! 🙂



Before jump to the point, I’m going to tell you first how did I get this book and intrigued to read it over. It was all started because of philosophy. As you guys know I recently have been writing articles about philosophy on my blog (in Bahasa), and it might continue until part 15. It is so addicting to know the deep meanings behind all the things around me. It has changed my point of view towards the world. All I see around me; the people, universe, God, the living and dead creatures, my mind, consciousness, even my faith are not the same anymore (it doesn’t mean I become an atheist. Some people think studying philosophy will make you turn into an atheist because it’s sometimes questioning about God or criticizing religion, but I assure you, it’s not true. Instead, being critical about God and receiving good answers will make you understand Him and His existence more.)

Philosophy leads me to know more about universe.

I, myself, never doubt that universe is the most beautiful yet mysterious thing ever. When the first time I visited Bosscha Observatory, I completely fascinated with the night sky. I couldn’t imagine how vast is the heaven; how come our earth with this enormous size can be look so tiny compared to other stars; how did the universe begin—and how will it end; is it infinite or finite? It was too difficult for me to understand amount of scientific theories that try to explain the whole secret behind universe.

One day, I had a friend that lent me a book called Parallel Worlds written by Michio Kaku. I have heard that name before. I guessed he’s a famous physicist because every time I searched a science documentary film on youtube, he’s quite often appeared on the video list.

After finishing the book, I’d say this is the most dazzling book I have read before. For the first time, I fell in love with science so hard! Well, not the ‘real’ science, though. Because science, especially physics, can’t be separated with math, and I basically don’t like math. What attracted me is the whole philosophy of it. It just fascinates me. Parallel Worlds is basically giving all the brilliant concept and idea of cosmic that I definitely love to know.

The book starts with the author’s childhood story. Mr. Kaku was raised in the Buddhist tradition, but he fascinated with parables about great floods and burning bushes more than Buddhist chanting and meditation. And there was a big question about universe that he was curious about, and mythologies around the world have tried to explain; was universe made by God or is it always was and always be? These mythologies stand in marked contradiction to each other, with no apparent resolution between them.

Today, however, science is revolutioning our understanding about universe more than before, giving us the most compelling description yet of its creation. But still, it has amout of paradoxes that scientists still debated of. For example, if the world is a stage, then how big is it? Is it infinite or finite? A Roman philosopher Lucretus wrote, “The universe is not bounded in any direction. If it were, it would necessarily have a limit somewhere. But clearly a thing can’t have a limit unless there is something outside to limit it… In all dimension alike, on this side or that, upward or downward through the universe, there is no end.” But, Johannes Kepler realized that if the universe were infinite, then where ever you looked, you would see the light from an infinite number of stars. Thus, the night sky should be on fire!

They couldn’t both be correct, right?

Inflation and Multiverse

Scientists find out that the universe is expanding, faster than speed of light. Now imagine a balloon that is inflated with galaxies painted on the surface. Then draw a microscopic circle on the balloon that represents the visible universe that we can see with our telescope. It demonstrated that there are whole regions of the universe beyond our visible universe that will forever be beyond our reach. So, by assuming expanding universe is like expanding balloon, scientists made a theory about existence of multiverses or parallel universe.

In other theory, universe is like blowing soap bubble that split in half and generate new bubble, sprouting a “daughter” or “baby” universe.

In this book, parallel universe seems very important for the human future. It says, our earth eventually will be perish in a big freeze or in a big crunch. And the only escape from this ultimate death is to leave our universe to the other universe—parallel world.

Symmetry breaking

The multiverse idea is appealing, and it raises the intriguing question: what do other universes look like? To understand the physics of parallel universe, we have to know pricely how spontaneous breaking (big bang) occurs.

Think about a beautiful mirror that shattered into thousands pieces. The original mirror possesed great symmetry. Rotate the mirror at any angle and you can see it still reflect light in the same way. But after it’s shattered, the original symmetry is broken. Determining pricely how the symmetry is broken determines how the mirror shattered.

Universe started out on a state of perfect symmetry, with all the forces unified into a single force. It was beautiful and symmetrical, but rather useless. Life as we know it couldn’t exist in this perfect state (think of an embryo in its early stage. It is beautiful and symmetrical, but rather useless because it cannot perform any useful function), so the universe had to break as it cooled.

This is personally one of my favorite part of this book. To a physicist, beauty means symmetry and simplicity. If a theory is beautiful, this means it has a powerful symmetry that can explain a large body of data. An equation is considered to be beautiful if it remains the same when we interchange its components among themselves.

String Theory and M-Theory; Is there a Composer?

String theory and M-theory are based on the simple and elegant idea that subatomic particles making up our universe are similar to the notes that one can play on a violin string. Physicist viewed electrons as being point particles that were infinitesimally small. According to string theory, if we had a supermicroscope that could peer into the heart of an electron, we could see it was not a point particle but a tiny vibrating string. If we were to pluck this vibrating string, it would change mode and become another subatomic particle.

The laws of physics become nothing but the laws of harmony one can write down for strings. The universe is a symphony of strings. And the “Mind of God” can be viewed as cosmic music vibrating throughout hyperspace. If this analogy is valid, we should ask the next question: is there a composer?
Einstein was asked about the existance of God. To him, there were two types of god. The first god was the personal god who answered prayers. However, this is not the god most scientist believe in.

Einstein believe in Spinoza’s God who reveal Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and action of human being; The God of harmony, reason and logic. Einstein writes, “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the object of creation… Neither can I believe that individual survives the death of his body.” Physicists who believe in this God believe that the universe is so beautiful and simple that its ultimate laws could not have been an accident.

I, however, do not agree with Einstein’s statement about God. The explanation will be too long, so I’ll be continuing it in the next article.

Back to the point, after all, what I like from this book is that the author explain (almost) every scientific ideas on this book in an easy way, making it understandable and readable for a non-science nerd like me. I definitely recommend this book for those who truly appreciates nature and wants to know deeply about it 🙂

Good luck!

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