Our universe seems strangely ''biophilic, '' or hospitable to
life. Is this happenstance, providence, or coincidence? According
to cosmologist Martin Rees, the answer depends on the answer to
another question, the one posed by Einstein's famous remark: ''What
interests me most is whether God could have made the world
differently.'' This highly engaging book explores the fascinating
consequences of the answer being ''yes.'' Rees explores the notion
that our universe is just a part of a vast ''multiverse, '' or
ensemble of universes, in which most of the other universes are
lifeless. What we call the laws of nature would then be no more
than local bylaws, imposed in the aftermath of our own Big Bang. In
this scenario, our cosmic habitat would be a special, possibly
unique universe where the prevailing laws of physics allowed life
Rees begins by exploring the nature of our solar system and
examining a range of related issues such as whether our universe is
or isn't infinite. He asks, for example: How likely is life? How
credible is the Big Bang theory? Rees then peers into the
long-range cosmic future before tracing the causal chain backward
to the beginning. He concludes by trying to untangle the
paradoxical notion that our entire universe, stretching 10 billion
light-years in all directions, emerged from an infinitesimal
As Rees argues, we may already have intimations of other
universes. But the fate of the multiverse concept depends on the
still-unknown bedrock nature of space and time on scales a trillion
trillion times smaller than atoms, in the realm governed by the
quantum physics of gravity. Expanding our comprehension of the
cosmos, Our Cosmic Habitat will be read and enjoyed by all
those--scientists and nonscientists alike--who are as fascinated by
the universe we inhabit as is the author himself.
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