• Before the Big Bang

  • The Origin of the Universe and What Lies Beyond
  • By: Laura Mersini-Houghton
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A revolutionary new account of our universe's creation—and a breathtaking exploration of the landscape from which we sprang—from one of the world's most celebrated cosmologists

What came before the Big Bang, and what exists outside of the universe it created? Until recently, scientists could only guess at what lay past the edge of spacetime. However, as pioneering theoretical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton explains, new scientific tools are now giving us the ability to peer beyond the limits of our universe and to test our theories about what is there. Her groundbreaking research suggests that we sit in a quantum landscape whose peaks and valleys hide a multitude of other universes, and whose topography holds the secret to the origins of existence itself. Recent evidence has revealed the signatures of one such sibling universe in our own night sky, confirming Mersini-Houghton's theoretical work and offering humbling proof that our universe is just one member of an unending cosmic family.

A mind-expanding journey through the multiverse, Before the Big Bang will reshape our understanding of humanity's place in the unfathomable vastness of the cosmos.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Laura Mersini-Houghton (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Before the Big Bang

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I tried, and learned nothing

My career was in research university hard sciences. I love books that really get me to think about something in the sciences that was not a part of my own background. Although not a physicist or cosmologist, I do find myself drawn to books that promise to teach me something new. So, I bought this book. I'd read a good review, and although the book was relatively short, it sounded quite promising.

For me, I was disappointed. The book felt more like an autobiography. There was a tremendous number of "I," "me" and "my" in the text. I learned about the author's life in Albania, the focus in school on Communist history and Physical Education. I learned that the author would go outside for fresh air and cigarettes. I learned way more personal stories than the science I wanted to discover. I finally had to give up with only one hour and 42 minutes left in the text, only because I really wanted to learn something new.

The author could very well be brilliant and a great scientist who is an inspiration to all their students. I am leaving this book early because it was too much about the author and not nearly enough about the science. I do wish the author well and do hope that they are on the path to something new and exciting for all of us. I would not recommend this book to anyone serious about cosmology or physics, but I would love to see the author offer something that really focused on their work and less on their life. I do wish the author greater success in their next book.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely loved this story, this tale, the incredible journey from the shores on the beach to the edges of the multi universes

Interwoven personal storytelling with a brilliantly, finely honed instrument of mind; sharing insights of the cosmos and the heart, brings childlike joy to this listener

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Probably shouldn’t read this on Audible

Nonfiction books like this are hit or miss on Audible. I probably should have gotten the paperback, although the Audible version does have a PDF supplement with the book’s figures

BTW, I am not a cosmologist, I just watch a lot of PBS Space Time on YouTube

The book seems to hop too quickly from useful analogies like the “physicists on the hill with marbles” to “string landscape vacua”. The author’s 2008 paper “Birth of the Universe from the Multiverse” fills in the gaps, but I found it a tough read.

I didn’t get a QED moment from the “hard evidence” from “dark flow”. See the PBS Space Time video on dark flow. The concept of dark flow (where something outside the universe is sucking galaxies toward it) is controversial. And the multiverse is just a speculation about the cause

The story of the author’s personal and academic journey out of Albania was interesting, but I had to knock off one star because of her and Roger Penrose’s rude treatment of the all too accommodating Turkish restaurant owner

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Excellent

A beautiful and provocative book weaving together both a fascinating autobiography and the latest in cosmology. Highly recommend it

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An Excellent Story on the Possible Origin of Our Univers

The author gives us the necessary background information to understand how her theory of the origin of our universe comes within a ‘quantum landscape’ of universes, or multiverse. It is occasionally difficult but a few rereadings of these sections usually allowed me to get a handle on what she was saying. It does help that she writes effortlessly. As well this is a memoir and a very interesting one from her youth in communist Albania to a professor of physics at UNC. I highly recommend this work of popular science. Xe Sands narration is perfect for the story, steady and clear in the science sections, and occasionally infused with appropriate emotion in parts of the memoir. A true joy and I will undoubtedly listen again to this audiobook.

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Unhappy Overall

I bought this book awhile ago on pre-order and was really looking forward to getting it. I've read a lot about the Big Bang and it's a fascinating subject for me. I am very sorry to say, I was really disappointed with it. The author told the listener more about her life as an Albanian and although it sounds like her life has been incredible, I didn't buy the book to hear about her life, i wanted to hear about the title subject. She often veered off into her life in Albania and leaving. There was nothing that I remember in the book description that mentioned the book had anything about her journey from her early life in Albania. When she did talk about the Big Bang it was evident that she was well versed on the subject. I wasn't very fond of the narrator either as her tone was a bit dry and monotone to some degree. I've listened to several books about Astronomy and many of the authors have read their own books. I have grown to like this quite a lot.

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Definitely a book worth reading

According to Albert Einstein, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Definitely, Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton’s book fits Einstein’s definition. Professor Mersini-Houghton pioneered the most complex and revolutionary theory of the origin of our universe making it clear and simple for the masses. In the same way, as Darwin fathered the theory of evolution making us, humans, aware of our place in the process of evolution, Mrs. Houghton goes further and develops a ground-breaking theory of the origin of our universe answering the impossible question. It is a fascinating book worth reading.

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too much about her life than the science

Very interesting topic but more of an autobiographical story of her discovery than a scientific explanation of it. it's good but not as focused on cosmology as I would of liked.

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An excellent book!

Mersini-Houghton tells two fascinating tales in one short book: that of her own life, in Albania, the US, and Italy, and of the evolution of her very appealing ideas about the origin of the universe.

Wanting a book with this description to be a hard science academic text is a failure on the reader’s part to choose an appropriate book, not a failure on the author’s part! Giving this book low scores because you failed to do even basic research on the book is downright churlish.

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