**THE UNIVERSE WITHIN,**

**by Neil Turok,**

**Allen & Unwin, 294pp.**

Few things that should interest us more than the basic questions about how we, and everything we know, came into existence. Our oldest creation stories tried to describe
the universe in the language and ideas available to our ancestors, mostly metaphors drawn from human experience. Now we expect things to be explained in a language that can
apply universally to the material world as we perceive it, without entirely negating the spiritual dimensions we infer as a means to fill the gaps in
our understanding.

Uncomfortably for me and many others, that language is mathematics, as applied to the science of physics. Both these domains can be intimidating to many seekers after the truth, who are more accustomed to the floating worlds of emotion and intuition. Most will turn aside, which is a pity.

It was a bold decision for the producers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's annual Massey Lecture series to commission Neil Turok in 2012. Turok held a chair in mathematical physics at Cambridge and published, together with
Stephen Hawking, a theory on how universes come into existence. He now heads the Perimeter Institute in Canada , which
supports the study of theoretical physics and campaigns for wider community
understanding of what physicists are on about, and why it matters.

This book is the texts of those lectures.

*The Universe Within*is about the ways human minds have grappled to understand the infinities and imponderables of all matter and energy, from smallest sub-atomic energy states to the possibly infinite multiplicity of universes that share time and space with everything we humans are able to observe.
A lot of this seems disconnected from human
experience because mathematical reasoning is not the same thing as common
sense. The greatest conceptual leap takes us from
classical physics to the realm of quantum mechanics. In this framework the universe is in constant flux on many dimensions and there is no truth, only probability. The job of physicists is to provide theories with reasonable probability. As it happens, the chance of our
own universe even existing is at a very low level of probability. However, because the
number of possibilities is infinite, sooner or later our universe would be
bound to pop up. After the shock, probability
actually makes more sense than certainty to the human brain.

*Richard Thwaites has maintained a cautious interest in scientific cosmology since reading John Milton's*Paradise Lost

*as a teenager.*