Review of The Inflationary Universe by Alan Guth (1997)

In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018. Michael Starks. pp. 615-618 (2016)
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This is one of the best popular cosmology books ever written and Guth is now (2016) a top physics Professor at MIT. He tells the extremely complex story of inflation and related areas of particle physics in such an absorbing style that it reads like a detective novel-in fact, it is a detective novel-how he and others found out how the universe started! The interweaving of his personal story and that of many colleagues along with their photos and many wonderfully clear diagrams allows just the right amount of relaxation from the intensity of the physics. In places the style reminds one of Watson´s famous book ``The Double Helix``. He tells how his work on magnetic monopoles and spontaneous symmetry breaking led to the discovery of the inflationary theory of the very early universe (ca. 10 to minus 35 seconds!). Along the way you will learn many gems that should stay with you a long time such as: the observed universe(e.g., everything the Hubble telescope etc. can see out to ca. 15 billion light years when the universe began) is likely just a vanishingly tiny part of the entire inhomogeneous universe which is about 10 to the 23rd times larger; the big bang probably took place simultaneously and homogeneously in our observed universe; there probably have been and will continue to be an infinite number of big bangs in an infinite number of universes for an infinite time; when a bang happens, everything(space, time, all the elements) from the previous universe are destroyed; the stretching of space can happen at speeds much greater than the speed of light; our entire observed universe lies in a single bubble out of an endless number so there may be trillions of trillions just in our own entire(pocket) universe(and there may be an endless number of such); none of these infinite number of universes interact-i.e., we can never find out anything about the others; each universe started with its own big bang and will eventually collapse to create a new big bang; all this implies that the whole universe is fractal in nature and thus infinitely regresses to ever more universes(which can lead one to thinking of it as a giant hologram); disagreements between the endless(hundreds at least) variations of inflation are sometimes due to lack of awareness that different definitions of time are being used; some theories suggest that there was a first big bang but we can never find out what happened before it; nevertheless it appears increasingly plausible that there was no beginning but rather an eternal cycle of the destruction and creation, each being the beginning of spacetime for that universe; to start a universe you need about 25g of matter in a 10 to minus 26cm diameter sphere with a false vacuum and a singularity(white hole). He deliberately spends little time on the endless variants of inflation such as chaotic, expanded and supernatural inflation or on dark matter´, supersymmetry and string theory, though they were well known at the time as you can find by reading other books such as Michio Kaku´s `Hyperspace` (see my review) and countless others. Of course much has happened since this book appeared but it still serves as an excellent background volume so cheap now it’s free for the cost of mailing. Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019)
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