"[Greene] develops one fresh new insight after another...In the great tradition of physicists writing for the masses, The Elegant Universe sets a standard that will be hard to beat." --George Johnson, The New York Times Book Review
In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of 11 dimensions where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.
Green uses everything from an amusement park ride to ants on a garden hose to illustrate the beautiful yet bizarre realities that modern physics is unveiling.
Dazzling in its brilliance, unprecedented in its ability to both illuminate and entertain, The Elegant Universe is a tour de force of science writing-a delightful, lucid voyage through modern physics that brings us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #3002 in Books
- Published on: 2000-02-29
- Released on: 2000-02-29
- Number of items: 1
- Binding: Paperback
- 464 pages
- ISBN13: 9780375708114
- Condition: New
- Notes: BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
There is an ill-concealed skeleton in the closet of physics: "As they are currently formulated, general relativity and quantum mechanics cannot both be right." Each is exceedingly accurate in its field: general relativity explains the behavior of the universe at large scales, while quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. Yet the theories collide horribly under extreme conditions such as black holes or times close to the big bang. Brian Greene, a specialist in quantum field theory, believes that the two pillars of physics can be reconciled in superstring theory, a theory of everything.
Superstring theory has been called "a part of 21st-century physics that fell by chance into the 20th century." In other words, it isn't all worked out yet. Despite the uncertainties--"string theorists work to find approximate solutions to approximate equations"--Greene gives a tour of string theory solid enough to satisfy the scientifically literate.
Though Ed Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study is in many ways the human hero of The Elegant Universe, it is not a human-side-of-physics story. Greene's focus throughout is the science, and he gives the nonspecialist at least an illusion of understanding--or the sense of knowing what it is that you don't know. And that is traditionally the first step on the road to knowledge. --Mary Ellen Curtin
From Publishers Weekly
One of the more compelling scientific (cum-theological) questions in the Middle Ages was: "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" Today's version in cutting-edge science is, "How many strings... ?" As posited by s tring theory physics, strings are furiously vibrating loops of stuff. The concept of strings was devised to help scientists describe simultaneously both energy and matter. The frequency and resonance of strings' vibration, just like those of strings on an instrument, determine charge, spin and other familiar properties of energy?and eventually the structure of the universe: a true music of the spheres. There's a chance that strings are themselves made up of something still smaller. But scientists can prove their existence only on the blackboard and computer, because they are much too tiny?a hundred billion billion times smaller than the nucleus of an atom?to be observed experimentally. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Cornell and Columbia universities, makes the terribly complex theory of strings accessible to all. He possesses a remarkable gift for using the everyday to illustrate what may be going on in dimensions beyond our feeble human perception. Just when we might be tempted to dismiss strings as grist for the publish-or-perish mill, Greene explains how they have demonstrated connections between mathematics and physics that have helped solve age-old conundrums in each field. This book will appeal to astronomy as well as math and physics fans because it probes the important insights string theory gives into hotly debated issues in cosmology. Later chapters require careful attention to Greene's explications, but the effort will prepare readers to follow the scientific advances likely to be made in the next millennium through application of string theory. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These days, physicists are bubbling over with talk of strings--tiny, vibrating loops of matter, seen as the building blocks of nature, that may serve to unite the divergent theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. For the rest of us, wunderkind Columbia professor Greene provides just the sort of nervy, imaginative metaphors that make understanding snap into place.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A magnficent accomplishment
In this book on eleven-dimensional space-time, Brian Greene proves himself to be truly exceptional in at least three of those dimensions: by his thorough comprehension of the origins and direction of theoretical physics up through the emergence of superstring theory, by his monumental contributions to that theory in identifying its components and extending its reach, and, thirdly, in explaining this subject in a way that allows the "layman" to gain an appreciation and intuitive understanding of it.
By way of explaining the use of the term "layman," let me point out that this book is not light reading. I don't believe it can be read by those without at least some exposure to college level physics. I am a former high school physics teacher, and I had to really stretch to understand Dr. Greene's explanations. Nevertheless, considering the mathematical and physical complexity of the subject matter, Dr. Greene has done a splendid and remarkable job of explaining the subject at a conceptual, nonmathematical level. Anyone with a physics background through the level of an introductory course in modern physics will find Dr. Greene's treatise accessible. It brings the reader closer to the current state of research in the rapidly moving field of superstring theory than books written even two years ago.
The book requires work, but it was a labor of love. This book is beautifully and artfully written and was a joy to read. I recommend it highly to anyone with the modest physics background described above who enjoys exploring theoretical physics and cosmology at a level approximating that of Scientific American.
I felt my brain growing!
Before I read this book, I didn't know the first thing about string theory, general relativity or quantum mechanics. I believe people like me were the author's target audience; that is, people who are profoundly interested in the mysterious physics of the universe, but lack the scientific or mathematical background to understand them in their raw form. This book certainly shouldn't be seen as anything other than an introduction for those of us outside the field of physics.
Each chapter in this book lays down the foundation for the next chapter. Greene manages to group together scattered discoveries from the past century or so according to their relevance to the topic at hand, and it feels very natural. Every complex concept is explained in somewhat technical detail and then followed up immediately by a clever (and occasionally humorous) analogy. The key points are always restated and rephrased to make absolutely sure the reader is on the same page with the author. This method really does wonders for nailing important concepts to your head, which turns out to be absolutely essential as the book progresses and new ideas are stacked atop the old.
This book, overall, is interesting. There are some extraordinarily intriguing chapters that will have your mind racing for at least a couple days, trying to piece together the chapter's implications, and then there are a couple dull chapters that almost feel like a chore to get through. However, the dull chapters, which seem to be flooded with basic mathematical and technical details, are necessary to understand the big picture. Greene only presents us with the details we need to understand, nothing more, and I honestly can't think of a way he could have made these dull chapters exciting.
If you are a curious physics newbie, or only know bits and pieces about the basic concepts of string theory, special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes, the big bang, or hidden dimensions, this book is certainly for you! If you are already knowledgeable in these subjects and seek the deepest technical and mathematical information about them, I'm guessing you will not find what you are looking for in this book.
Assumes no prior knowledge of physics as such. Has an excellent introduction to relativity and quantum theory. Actually, I haven't seen a better introduction to relativity or quantum theory elsewhere. The book then moves on to string theory (which is the main theme of the book). An excellent introduction to string theory, I must say. The book is very easy to follow and can very well serve as a layman's introduction to high-end physics. For the more advanced readers, the author provides endnotes which elaborate the subject matter in a mathematical/physical perspective. People from all walks of life will enjoy this book