Our universe seems strangely 'biophilic,' or hospitable to life. Is this providence or coincidence? According to 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 centres on the fascinating consequences of the answer being 'yes'. Rees explores the notion that our universe is just 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 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 to emerge.
Sir Martin Rees is Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University, and holds the title of Astronomer Royal.