Not only is there another universe next door, but myriad others across the eons of time and space: That's one conclusion voiced here by this former Stephen Hawking student and popularizer of astronomy (Unveiling the Edge of Time, 1992, etc.). Taking his inspiration from the findings of the COBE (cosmic background explorer) satellite, Gribbin launches happily into discourse on how we now know that the Big Bang happened 15 billion years ago (more or less)--and that the slight differences in background temperature that COBE has detected establish the "ripples in time" that allowed the clumping of matter into galaxies and supergalaxies. Which fits the idea of the universe inflating in the first split second. That said, what else is new? A lot. Never one merely to report the news, Gribbin speculates that the universe is truly alive and that it has evolved subject to the same restraints and random events observed in life on Earth. Mutations in black holes. Small blips on a parent universe becoming baby bubble universes. Eventually, a whoosh that becomes the universe around us. Does anyone else agree? Gribbin alludes to Lee Smolin, at Syracuse University, who's published a few papers. Otherwise, the author tells us that he got the idea by applying Gaian theories about Earth to the universe at large. Incidentally, he dispatches anthropic principles and the unseen hand by invoking a "Goldilocks" principle: The universe does what is "just right" for it (just as Gaia does on Earth). By this reasoning, human beings are a byproduct--and not too useful a one at that. As usual, Gribbin does a snappy reprise of the relevant theories and history before the whoosh and wow take over.