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The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)) Paperback – July 1, 2008
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Physics World, December 2008
is actually a thoroughly worthwhile read, doing as good a job as you could hope for in reducing the Gordian complexity of string theory into something that intelligent readers feel that they understand.
Physics Education, November 2008
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This book is for you if:
-You are looking for a good overview of the challenges that String theory is trying to solve
-You are not interested in a book of Math formula's (there is no math) or a book that just reprints the theory
-You are interested in a balanced view including discussions of alternative theories (it mostly covers String theory but it does highlight how other theories deal with the problem) as opposed to bashing other theories
-You have read several other books but still don't see the big picture
-You are not interested in a history lesson on how great the author is and all of his friends and all the other guys are nuts
Hope this helps
One embarrassing consequence of leading QG research is the many "wars" going on among our world's top theoretical physicists, and Musser does a fine job explaining these differences in his chapter on "The String Theory Wars." Other books on this subject are informative yet one-sided; this book gives equal balance to all sides explaining the Pros and Cons of all parties.
He eschews mentioning the particular scientists involved in the theories in favor of focusing on the theories themselves. This is a refreshing approach in its own right and makes the book as tight and concise as possible. His writing style is informative, interesting, entertaining, and lucid; one walks away from this book feeling a mastery of the issues at hand, and well prepared to read more detailed works on these subjects with an open-minded attitude to other authors' bias. As a science journalist, he has done this aspect of his job splendidly.
As a researcher, he has also excelled. He has consulted the experts on all sides, notably String Theorist Keith Dienes, Loop Gravitationist co-founder Carlo Rovelli, CDT co-founder Renate Loll, and dozens of others in these fields such as Polchinski and Witten.
Quantum mechanics is presented with its incompatibilities.
With these formalities over with, string theory is discussed.
There are some difficulties here.
Profound conclusions are presented without much background.
The conflicting view points get tiresome.
There is not much of a climax at the end.
But these problems are inherent to the subject matter.
The digressions and historical bits are always interesting.
The endless analogies to everyday life are better than you would expect.
There is a joy about the audacity of the subject which comes through.
Of course, to be fair, this is a difficult subject to "translate" into the common vernacular so to speak, but I know some justice can be done to this feat. I know because I have read the books written by Brian Greene on the subject. For example, Green's book "The Elegant Universe" did a splendid job of presenting the concepts of string theory and the cosmos in a manner that allowed comprehension by the non-expert.
Nevertheless, in his book, Musser touches on many subjects, such as relativity, quantum theory and the world of the small, the Standard Model, black holes, the big bang, time travel, gravitons, strings, loop quantum gravity, extra dimensions, parallel universes, symmetry, branes, testing string theory, and more. New terms introduced are defined in sidebars as are explanations of key ideas and concepts albeit tersely.
If you can be content by a collection of "fast facts" on this subject matter, you will probably find this book satisfying.
I would however recommend it for a great introduction to get one thinking about this exciting, emerging field that may well provide the Big Answer we as a people have been searching for since general relativity shook up the apple cart, so to speak.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mostly the explanations are reasonably well written. However, it's not true for all the explanations given in the book, at least not for me. Read morePublished 7 days ago by T. R. Kiang
I read this book early on to gain understanding about String Theory, which had languished for years because of how this untested theory might effect a physicist's career. Read morePublished 25 days ago by W. Clement
I am always skeptical of physics for laypeople that avoids all the math. The math of string theory, however, is for experts only. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Herbert Gintis
I don't recommend this book to idiots, there is lots of math in it. And string theory is not simple, it requires lots of imagination and mental imaging ability. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Richart Yohnson
I confess I'm still slogging through the first half. So much new Information. A very good feature, is how this writer refers you to other parts of the book both material already... Read morePublished 13 months ago by W. Hinds