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117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. NOVA does it again
This is the clearest explanation I've seen of relativity, quantum theory, the nature of space and time - even Newton. Very very good science documentary.

NOVA has surpassed its usual high standards. It's obvious they thought carefully about how to visually explain the concepts.

They did an admirable job in trying to appeal to a broad audience,...
Published on November 5, 2011 by Learner

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Way too glitzy and padded
Whereas there is much interesting information that could be included, the emphasis seems to me to be on splashy graphics.
Published 9 months ago by Hans Ruppel

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117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. NOVA does it again, November 5, 2011
This review is from: Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos (DVD)
This is the clearest explanation I've seen of relativity, quantum theory, the nature of space and time - even Newton. Very very good science documentary.

NOVA has surpassed its usual high standards. It's obvious they thought carefully about how to visually explain the concepts.

They did an admirable job in trying to appeal to a broad audience, including to curious people who aren't well-read about science. If you like eye-grabbing graphics you are in luck here. But this show was also enjoyable to me, even though I was already familiar with many of these ideas.

As is NOVA's trend in recent years, for me there was too much hyperactivity in the presentation. But I assume they do this to appeal to younger audiences, and this show will without a doubt be presented in high schools for years to come.

The last part of episode one was mind-blowing, that our universe is like a hologram. I didn't really understand it, but it's a very interesting idea to say the least. (I did see some science news articles a few months ago saying this idea has now been mostly disproved, but maybe those news articles were premature.)

Having seen the previous Brian Greene series named The Elegant Universe years ago, I had high expectations for this new series. Even more so because where Elegant Universe is mostly about only string theory, Fabric of the Cosmos is broader, covering space, time, quantum physics, and multiverses - all core ideas to physics. Now I'm reading the book, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality.

If you are interested in science or just enjoy an excellent documentary, this is a must-have DVD. If you are well-read in science, you may not hear much new here. But you may well see things presented in a new way. And in the end, it's all about the wonder.

[Update] I saw an after-show Q&A with Brian Green at the World Science Festival website. About a third way through, Leonard Susskind joins and gives more good explanation of the holographic principle. It sounds like it's still very much a viable theory.
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well done brian green., November 17, 2011
This review is from: Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos (DVD)
I have used the 3 DVD's of the original Elegant Universe in my introductory Astronomy courses. Students really liked that series.
I have seen 3 episodes of the "Fabric of the Cosmos" now. The Episode on Time is alright but not superb. The episode called "Quantum leap" is superb and I will definitely use it for my introductory astronomy courses. The 3rd episode on "String theory" is even better than the original Elegant universe.
The part about Einstein and Neil Bohr is superb. The explanation of Quantum Entanglement and then the Teleportation is surprisingly digestible. I am thinking of building a course based on the fabric of the universe series. This is a fantastic series for the curious minded people among us. I am definitely buying these DVD's even though I have seen only 3 of the episodes.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and mindblowing., November 10, 2011
This review is from: Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos (DVD)
Saw the first two episodes on PBS last night and was glued to the TV. They explain concepts of the universe in such a clear and conscise manner. It put so many things into perspective and I can't wait to watch it again along with the other episodes. Dont miss out on this DVD, they did an amazing job putting it together.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern physics update on time, space, quantum, and the multi-universe., December 4, 2011
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This review is from: Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
How well do you understand this universe you live in? Science has come a long way in recent times. Programs nowadays are transformed to keep pace with our rapid information media society. This one is no exception, as it excels at getting the latest and greatest info to make you ponder deeper about the fabric of what this world is really made of, from the tiniest of strings, to the expanse of what's beyond our own universe.

Some basic concepts (and prerequisites for the laymen) are reviewed in the 1st episode, Space. (For example, this show is NOT about black holes. But they briefly review it to show a concept they're getting at, i.e. the fabric of space, and how it can be warped.) Otherwise, besides episode 1, there are may be parts of this program where you may need to hit the pause to process the info and let it sink in.

As a follow up to "NOVA - The Elegant Universe," Dr. Brian Greene continues where he left off, presenting hard science understandable today by using colorful illustrations, and the down to earth explanations. This is a biggest noticeable improvement compared to programs decades ago. Modern physics is a tough topic to grasp even for those with a science background, because this topic is beyond the realm of what we humans normally perceive in our daily lives. For example, in the Time episode 2, Greene takes an imaginary sword and slices across the time continuum graft, to show how the concept of "now" may not be the same as someone else's "now." Deviations in the "now" (or "then") may be more evident in the large vastness of time and space (distances), but doesn't mean it's not there for shorter distances too, such as here on earth. It may be negligible or irrelevant, to the point where time variations are barely perceivable in our daily lives, especially from a human perspective. But it IS there, from a relativity (Einstein) standpoint. (Note: Einstein once said, "the distinction between the past, present, and future is nothing more than a stubborn persistent delusion.") The notion of "now" being different than someone else's "now," is based on each observer's perspective in what is seen and perceived. This has huge implications in that a different observer's time may be slightly different from someone else's time (and space), and because of that, the significance is that we carry our universe with us individually. Hence, in essence, an infinite amount of possibilities would then exist, with each observer associated with each time and space. This leads to the concept of parallel universes and this idea is the harbinger for one of the many basis for the multi-verse theory, episode 4. Time dilation is the same principle as when we physically travel (far distances), our clocks become different relative to others, and we disengage our universe from others' in terms of time and space. Likewise, as with time travel (via wormholes), the paradoxes associated with that is nothing more than a splitting detachment from your previous universe. So, BTW you can go back in time, but if you kill your great, great grandfather you won't disappear.

Greene further states that our whole universe and how we view and experience it, may be nothing more than an illusion, or even a simulation. This might be mind boggling to grasp, though not a new concept, nor his original idea, it is really based on these 3 or more premises: 1) The holographic principle of the universe. That what we see and experience are really projections of a higher dimension, by Michael Talbot (The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality). For example if someone sees your shadow on the ground, it is really a projection of the 3 dimensional you. 2) Quantum Probability (that everything possible exists, in a wave form), and that when we look, the wave function collapses, and only 1 possibility is revealed (the double-slit experiment), i.e. the one your mind (brain) will seep out and perceive to be real. This program illustrates this point by showing the moon fluctuating in all areas behind Greene, but by the time Greene turns around to look, the moon is in one place only. 3) Since every particle is linked to every particle (via entanglement), your thoughts (subatomic particles in you brain) have an impact on how "your" universe behaves and molds to your perception (implying the universe is framed). Also revealed is that entanglement is instantaneous, i.e. faster than the speed of light.

Noteworthy, it shouldn't be a surprise that entanglement possesses inferences faster than speed of light. After all, instantaneity (like spontaneity) is an entity, whereas the speed of light is an actual physical property (measurable), like temperature. Much the likes the speed of sound including its variation through different media. We assumed light speed "c" to be the benchmark which cannot be surpassed. The speed of light is actually the speed of a subatomic particle "hv" photon, which has mass. Inferences like entanglement have nothing to do with particle, and hence not limited to a speed. So in essence, it was our own myopia in hindsight at man's progression in the history of scientific knowledge and revolution in assuming "c" to be the ultimate limit. Greene alludes to a concept where theoretical work is still being done regarding the notion of one particle inside the black hole, while the other is entangled outside the hole. Ie, measuring the property of the particle outside the hole could determine what goes on inside a black hole. Bet you didn't see that coming.

Episode 4 further goes into the idea that everything is made up of strings (11 dimensions curled up in an array of vibrations or harmonic frequencies), and how we may be sitting on membrane(s). This concept or theory stemmed from the fact that gravity force is so much weaker than the other 3 fundamental forces: electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Mathematical calculations in the gravity force shows it may actually be as strong as the other 3, but its appearance is greatly weakened as the subatomic particle representative graviton floats partially in only briefly then exits out of our current dimension.

In episode 3, The glove in the box thought experiment (the one glove is neither right nor left until you open the box and look), is just another way of showing the classic Erwin Schrödinger's cat equations. Not sure why they didn't just reference that to Schrodinger, who played a much more historical and significant role in quantum mechanics.

After watching this program, you'll see that the real universe (true reality) is much different than your normal daily perceived universe. Remember after all, we are seeing the universe from our encapsulated (restricted) human mental elucidation. The human body is so tiny in comparison to the real universe. Much like a single bacterium on top of a desk cannot perceive the entire desk. Careful, you may be inclined to assume I mean we are too small, but likewise we are too big to see the functions of our same small universe: the molecular and particle structures behaving the irrational quantum dynamics. The universe of the small is another whole vibrant invisible to our physical human being perception, and size of course is all relative. (Fortunately Heisenberg crunched out the mathematical differential equations to show the unpredictability of the tiny world in his famous Uncertainty Principle.)

You can see the span of large to small is so exponential, and the being of man to study it is restricted to not just physical size. Not only are we within the cosmos, we are part of it. The limitation of our understanding of the entire scientific basis of our cosmos is intrinsic to us, and biased on our humanistic observation and perception. But we have programs like this to provide the framework facilitating us to think "outside the box." Life after all, is the greatest mind simulation game played out in this universe and from there it's all about discovering the fabric barring such limitations. Life, and the constituent of our existential being, is essentially hampered in 2 elementary ways. 1) Each of us in a physical sense has mass and hence is "hardware" subjected to the laws of physics (such as the 2nd law of thermodynamics), i.e. we are not immortal. Also our hardware inputs are limited to only 5 senses. 2) Our mind is the "software," by which each human is the recipient and beneficiary of consciousness to observe and understand the cosmos, but its processing ability is limited by IQ (we don't possess infinite smartness). But the latter requirement is that only a mere simple thought may be enough to elucidate this fabric of reality. The scaffolding outside the box (true reality) has always been there from the beginning of big bang (and possibly before). It just takes a run of the mill imagination to see it. Lamentably it is our own daily routines that equilibrate our conscious worldly thoughts back to the secular attentiveness (the way we are wired). But the great minds of our times (and programs like these) maintain that perception in check. Will the next Einstein, please step up to the plate. Okay Mr. Greene, you're on deck for the clutch hit; and in this program he drives in the winning run (figuratively).

If you're still tripping about the simulation model, I'll carve out more details here. If you're still reading, I assume I've held your attention. I'll pat my back. OK, here goes. Since the fabric of everything (time, space, and mass) is quantized, everything comes in distinct packets (of energy, mass, and even time) rather than a titrated gradient. In essence, when the "stuff of everything" is broken down, the subatomic particles become whimsical flavors of properties humans can't even name, except for something like "charm" or "strange." (Note: yes those 2 do sound subjective but are real objective physics terms. Scientists had difficulty assigning nomenclature because it's beyond the realm of Newtonian classics; one even coined it "pigments of your imagination.") The easiest way to put it, life and cosmos is analogous to a simulation. In the simplest terms, like a computer simulation, made of bunch of ones and zeros. (You've probably been to an art gallery and seen one of those pictures of a beautiful face where if you look closely, it's becomes a blur, and then you see it is simply made of elementary repeating grains.) But this running program is so finely detail pixilated to a sufficient amount enough that we fallaciously presume the world we live in to be real. Yes, welcome to the fabric of our cosmos. The distinction between the real reality and simulation is no different, they merge and are identical, and hence each individual is living in a simulation, hah right now. (Like a movie, the acting needs to be enough to be believable.) Not only are we lead to think our life is real, but we also assume to be the only one (aka "uni-"verse) to exist from each individual's vantage point. At the most fundamental level, cut down to the constituent ingredients, everything becomes vibrations and distinct packets of information with infinite numbers of simulated possibilities (parallel multi-universes). (An analogy would be the following: like there are plenty of Hollywood movies to choose from, so are many copies of the exact you living in infinite other worlds, and all this time, you thought your life was the only story of you, as if like Tom Cruise made only 1 movie his whole career.) BTW, in Geneva, Switzerland, the largest science experiment in the world, the large Hadron Collider (17 miles wide, and costing the US equivalent of almost $10 billion to build) is currently smashing and breaking up pealing away atoms so we can observe the fabric's behavior. Particularly in search of the elusive Higgs Boson. Stay tuned for more discoveries.

When Copernicus said the Sun was the center, the shock took centuries before man came to grips with it. 40 years ago, Armstrong first stepped on the moon the world gasped; today it's no longer a big deal. Same with new physics model explaining reality and science. Not a big deal. Everything we have discovered (and yet to) has been both in and outside the box all this time. Just knowledge, science is all about learning, aka interesting & fun. What was really cool is I've had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Greene during his public lecture and book signing at the Griffith Observatory. I may be another layman to him in passing, but as you can tell from his video, he's very down to earth and probably very good with kids. Please do share our knowledge to the future. Again, who's next at bat?

I would have liked to see some extras on this blu ray (there are none). For example, 1) the interview with Dr. Greene to accommodate this program, is available only on the PBS NOVA website, and 2) The mini documentary, "Brian Greene: The Search For Hidden Dimensions" is on YouTube. These should have included on this blu ray. Other than that, as far as the quality of this program, you really can't ask for anything more. Programs nowadays need to compete for your attention since we are bombarded with so many distractions in life, and this one does succeed, and I have no doubt will work even for the ditzy teenager hung over from Katy's Friday night. Fabric of the Cosmos uses plenty of art, flashy graphics and designs, and media, really look advanced. BTW, though Brian Greene is the main host and is based on his book, this program does also feature a plate of renowned guest scientists including Alex Filippenko, Jim Gates, Janna Levin, Max Tegmark, and many others to get your juices flowing.

Other science programs I recommend to accommodate your collection: 1) Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking [Blu-ray]; 2) Nova: Finding Life Beyond Earth [Blu-ray]; 3)Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman: Season 3; and 4) What the Bleep!? - Down the Rabbit Hole (QUANTUM Three-Disc Special Edition). As far as Hollywood movies similar in topic of time, space, and the concept of reality to wrap your mind in, I recommend: The Adjustment Bureau (Matt Damon), Truman Show (Jim Carrey), Inception (Leonardo DiCaprio), and The Matrix (Keanu Reeves).
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Viewing For Everyone, November 5, 2011
Buckhippo "Buck" (Random Space Shuttle) - See all my reviews
This is the first of a four part series on the universe narrated and essentially created by Brian Greene. I've been a fan of his books because he is very good at explaining complex concepts in a very simple and tangible way. This first episode is an engaging one hour full with historical references that Brian is able to tie into the modern age of theoretical physics. The special effects are worth a thousand words alone because they are able to convey what would be otherwise very complex ideas into something the viewer can comprehend. As an adult I found The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space to be very engaging and I think a high school student who has an interest in physics and science would also find it amazing. I am looking forward to purchasing the other episodes in this series. Why didn't we have stuff like this when I was in school?!

Please keep up the good work at PBS. It's works like this that inspire.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Time..., November 11, 2011
Buckhippo "Buck" (Random Space Shuttle) - See all my reviews
I was at a bar a few years ago in New Orleans and I asked my friend "So, what is time?" She told me what time it was but this was not what I meant of course. After I asked again, she thought about it and then said "Are you trying to make me look stupid?" I laughed and said genuinely, "No! I think it's a very fascinating question. Haven't you ever thought about this?" She looked at me and shrugged.

But I am so glad Brian Greene has tackled this very interesting and complex question that would make even the most accomplished physicist feel, well, a little insecure.

This is the second episode in the series entitled "The Fabric of the Cosmos" which is based on the book of the same name. In this episode, Brian once again takes an exceedingly complicated topic and tries to let the viewer see this question from tangible experiences of our world. He begins by showing us the historical references that led to the modern synchronization of time pieces which then leads to the really difficult question of "what exactly is time?" We know how to measure it but what exactly is it?

From Newtonian physics to Einstein to modern theoretical physics Brian and colleagues take us step by step through the nature of space-time itself and how motion (or velocity) affects our human perception of time. Cleverly done with stunning computer generated graphics, it allows the non-physicist to grasp important concepts that leave the viewer wondering about their own past, present, and future. Is the future predetermined? Can we go back in time and change events? Do the current laws of physics allow us to theoretically do these things? And how will the universe itself look hundreds of billions of years form now if it is indeed expanding....over time?

Fun stuff and great viewing for adults and the high school student who wants to truly have their mind stimulated.

Once again, thank you Brian Greene, colleagues, and PBS for such a thought provoking series.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but I'll donate my 2.99 to public broadcasting, November 15, 2011
Greg Daly (SEATTLE, WA United States) - See all my reviews
In this episode, Brian Greene does a very good job explaining modern physics through illustration and example. I think at times it can be a bit misleading, but it still gets you thinking about the content and I think most people that would be interested in this type of show will enjoy it. The content gets four stars.

However, Amazon is charging for a public broadcasting episode that is available freely to everyone on I actually watched it there. Amazon should do the right thing and include all PBS content for free for Prime members. Most of it seems to be already. This knocks two stars of the rating.

Edit: A couple of weeks after this review, they released all of them for free. I know that some commenters disagreed with part of my review, but I'd like to think that it precipitated a change. If that is the case, thanks for listening, amazon!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the Curious - Well Presented, Easy to Understand, Loaded with Info, December 26, 2011
I have always wondered how the universe is "put-together". I'm a college student, and I've taken my share of Chem, Bio, and Physics to learn basic rules and understand what happens, how to calculate formulas, etc. However, none of these classes ever answered the major, over-arching "why?" questions. In all honesty, memorizing formulas and rules for for undergrad university classes actually bores me - however, the thought-provoking material presented in these documentaries greatly fascinates me. All I want from a documentary is to be entertained, learn accurate and current information, and have enough supporting information to believe the claims (but not have so much evidence that I need to have Masters Degree to understand it.) The Fabric of the Cosmos is the most well presented and concise documentary on this topic.

Here's why this documentary series is so good:
1) Presentation. It's not a boring science documentary by any means. It's a NOVA documentary meaning it's high budget, well animated and genuinely fun to watch. This isn't something that you have to force yourself to watch - the plethora of examples, metaphors, clips from interviews with professors and researchers, and thought provoking questions always keep you engaged. That being said it's still a documentary and you do have to pay attention - you can't just stare blankly at the screen and hope to become an expert.

2) The information is given in a question-answer format. They start by explaining something simple that seems like common sense and then they keep complicating it by asking questions that require new experiments and thus new theories. In other words, they present models and then raise questions and show anomalies that push for a new paradigm. Rather than going in a boring linear progression that cites major scientists to show how humanity's perception of the universe progressed, the question answer approach is much more engaging.

3) The supporting evidence they give is also very concrete and useful. Every study and experiment is described well enough to not bore but also explain what is actually going on. Rather than just saying "Joe Mac did an experiment that proved blah blah," they phrase it as "Joe Mac devised an experiment using blahbalh and if the results were blabhblah then the theory would be supported". When it comes to science, I usually am a skeptic until I see solid evidence and this show backs up almost all of its claims. Going back to what I said earlier, this is because they start from a common sense, every-10-year-old-knows-that idea and keeps on building until they arrive at today's current model.

4) Easily accessible but highly informative. This is the beauty of the series: you could know nothing about physics or the universe and still learn a huge amount, but even if you are knowledgeable on the subject, you won't be bored. There are plenty of metaphors that anyone could grasp (for example, they use the popular rubber sheet gravity example to show how heavy objects like the earth can bend space as shown by sinking into the rubber sheet, then showing how this causes smaller objects like the moon to stay in revolution around the earth -- if you couldn't catch that, blame my description because the metaphor in the video is gold). Whilst making complex ideas easier to grasp, they continuously cite experiments or play clips from interviews that introduce new information and keep you engaged.

This series is new, features quite new discoveries, and is packed with information. If you watch it, you will learn plenty and maybe you could even share it with friends or family over dinner. The best part is that it's open to anyone and it's actually fun to watch. If you're a prime member, it's even free to stream. If you want to get an overview of how the universe "works" but don't want to read dozens of technical and theoretical texts, then this is the perfect introduction to satisfy your curiosity. I highly recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I still don't understand it, July 13, 2012
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"The Fabric of the Cosmos" is an interesting, clear, and sometimes even eloquent description of physicists' view of the universe. For people with imagination, there is some fantastic stuff here, like the "frozen river of time," as opposed to our usual concept of time as a flowing river. In the "bread slices" of time-space, everything that has ever happened in the past is preserved, but we can't get to it. Think about it! My dead grandparents, my two dead husbands are still there, somewhere, on this frozen river, but how can I ever find the ice-skates to glide back to them? No. This is not allowed, not possible. This is an awesome and puzzling concept, like most of the concepts narrated in this video. I don't quite understand it because I've always been bad in math, but I am still fascinated by it. The physicists' universe is so different from ours! It is so hard to digest it in a real, day-to-day way, but it is, as I said, totally engrossing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another me?, December 20, 2011
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This review is on NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos, Ep. 4 "Universe or Multiverse?"

I like to think that I am an unique individual, but here in this fourth episode of Nova: the Fabric of the Cosmos, renowned physicist and author Brian Greene proposes that there might be another me writing Amazon reviews at this exact moment - in a parallel universe exactly like ours. In fact, according to Brian Greene, our universe is just one among an infinite number of universes floating like bubbles in a forever expanding "multiverse". This theory is advanced by American physicist Alan Guth and Russian physicists Alex Vilenkin and Andrei Linde. They propose that the Big Bang, which created our universe, is merely one of an infinite number of bangs in the past and will be in the future, creating an infinite number of universes, each with its own properties, in an eternal inflationary multiverse. In this multiverse with infinite number of universes, one of them is going to be exactly like ours with a duplicate of each one of us. This theory of eternal inflation seems to be supported by the String Theory of quantum mechanics and the actual measurement of the amount of dark energy in our universe. But is the multiverse fairy tale or serious science? I'll let the viewers decide. Brian Greene has done a marvelous job explaining an immensely complicated subject in the simplest terms. Don't miss out on this thought provoking series.
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Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos [Blu-ray]
Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos [Blu-ray] by Paula S. Apsell (Blu-ray - 2011)
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