Vilenkin, Alex (Alexander Vilenkin)

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Vilenkin, Alex (Alexander Vilenkin)

PERSONAL:

Immigrated to the United States, 1976. Education: State University of New York, Buffalo, Ph.D., 1977; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, postdoctorate degree, 1978.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Institute of Cosmology, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155; fax: 617-627-3878. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER:

Physicist and academic. Tufts University, Medford, MA, professor of physics and director of the Institute of Cosmology, 1978—.

WRITINGS:

(With E.P.S. Shellard) Cosmic Strings and Other Topological Defects, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994.

Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Alex Vilenkin is a physicist and academic. Growing up in the Ukrainian area of the Soviet Union, Vilenkin was blacklisted from continuing his higher education, resulting in his move to the United States, where he completed his Ph.D. at the State University of New York, Buffalo. After obtaining a postdoctorate degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, he went on the following year to teach physics and cosmology at Tufts University. In 1994 he published his first book, Cosmic Strings and Other Topological Defects, with E.P.S. Shellard.

Vilenkin published Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes in 2006. After expounding on the Big Bang Theory, which contends that our universe was created over fourteen billion years ago as a result of a massive explosion of matter, the book proposes that our universe is one that is constantly expanding in a state of eternal inflation. The book also suggests that our universe exists within a suprauniverse, where other universes are infinitely created and are populated with parallel histories of our own existence.

Mark Mortimer, writing on the Universe Today Web site, commented that "the reader will be in for a well founded dissertation on universes," but warned that "this book isn't for those who want spoon feeding." Mortimer remarked that "the big bang introduced our universe. Probability and uncertainty indicate other universes could be popping up every which way," adding that the book "presents thoughts on what our neighbours may be like. It's worthwhile reading for anyone, particularly before they press the doorbell of our universe's neighbours." A contributor to the Science A-Go-Go Web site found that several of the book's conclusions may "end up giving you a migraine." The same contributor noted, however, that "the firsthand account from one of cosmology's leading scientists makes" the book "a unique and truly engaging read." Amanda Gefter, writing in the New Scientist, mentioned that Many Worlds in One "ends with a fantastically intriguing question sure to deprive you of sleep." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called Many Worlds in One an "engagingly written but difficult book." The contributor wrote that Vilenkin did an "an impressive job," adding that he "gives us a great deal to ponder."

A contributor to Science News described Many Worlds in One as a "fascinating book." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor found that the numerous ideas are "concisely presented" and would "provoke the interest of readers intrigued by the origin of the big bang." In an American Scientist review, Craig J. Hogan noted that "Vilenkin offers an engaging personalized tour of cosmology, sharing his intimate view of developments in the field over the past quarter of a century." Hogan also mentioned that Vilenkin "enlivens the scientific narrative by including colorful sketches of friends, colleagues and the heroic figures of earlier generations. Indeed, the book recalls the informal, lighthearted, inviting style of popular books by another Russian emigre physicist, George Gamow, who introduced the ideas of the Big Bang to a broad readership half a century ago."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Scientist, March 1, 2007, Craig J. Hogan, review of Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, p. 185.

Booklist, July 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 17.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 2007, C.G. Wood, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 853.

Nature, September 14, 2006, Silk Joseph, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 145.

New Scientist, August 12, 2006, Amanda Gefter, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 52.

Physics Today, May, 2007, Andrei Linde, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 66.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2006, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 54.

Science News, July 22, 2006, review of Many Worlds in One, p. 63.

ONLINE

Edge,http://www.edge.org/ (February 13, 2008), author profile.

Powell's.com,http://www.powells.com/ (February 13, 2008), author interview.

Science A-Go-Go,http://www.scienceagogo.com/ (August 3, 2006), review of Many Worlds in One.

Tufts University Web site,http://www.tufts.edu/ (February 13, 2008), author profile and interview.

Universe Today,http://www.universetoday.com/ (February 11, 2007), Mark Mortimer, review of Many Worlds in One.