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String Theory For Dummies [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Zimmerman Jones , Daniel Robbins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

  • The basic concepts of this controversial theory

  • How string theory builds on physics concepts

  • The different viewpoints in the field

  • String theory's physical implications

Your plain-English guide to this complex scientific theory

String theory is one of the most complicated sciences being explored today. Not to worry though! This informative guide clearly explains the basics of this hot topic, discusses the theory's hypotheses and predictions, and explores its curious implications. It also presents the critical viewpoints in opposition to string theory so you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Understand the "theory of everything" — grasp the key concepts and importance of the theory, and learn why scientists are so excited about finding a theory of quantum gravity

  • It all comes down to physics — discover how string theory is built upon the major scientific developments of the early 20th century

  • Building the theory — trace the creation and development of string theory, discover its predictions, and see whether accurate conclusions can be made

  • Take string theory for a spin — explore the core issue of extra dimensions, the implications for cosmology, and how string theory could explain certain properties of our universe

  • Boldly go where no one has gone — see what string theory has to say about possible parallel universes, the origin and fate of our universe, and the potential for time travel

  • Hear from the critics — listen in on the heated debates about string theory and weigh the alternatives being offered

Open the book and find:

  • The questions string theory attempts to answer

  • Easy-to-follow examples

  • Explanations of Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory, and particle physics

  • The successes and failures of string theory

  • Fascinating bits of string theory including strings and branes

  • Ways that string theory can be tested

  • Discussions of loop quantum gravity and other possible alternative theories of gravity

  • How the theory may relate to cosmic mysteries, from the origin of matter to black holes

Editorial Reviews


' ... explains the basic concepts of what the cover refers to as the controversial theory .' (, October 2010).

About the Author

Andrew Zimmerman Jones received his physics degree and graduated with honors from Wabash College, where he earned the Harold Q. Fuller Prize in Physics. He is the Physics Guide for the New York Times' Web site. Daniel Robbins received his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago and currently studies string theory and its implications at Texas A&M University.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucidly written, comprehensive, and entertaining December 13, 2009
Andrew Zimmerman Jones, who is the Physics Guide for, does a fabulous job of making the most complex scientific theory ever devised absolutely understandable. This is a first-rate introduction to the field. One would almost think it impossible to make something as recondite as sting theory clear to laypeople, but Jones pulls it off with wit and panache. Despite being part of the well-established "For Dummies" publishing franchise, this book is a worthy companion to Hawking and Mlodinow's A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME. Highly recommended.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Secrets of the Universe" December 21, 2009
I would recommend this book to anyone! As a physics student I was attracted to the notion of getting a better grasp on string theory. String Theory for Dummies does that, but not just that. It also provides a firm base for classical physics as well. Want to know the current science behind wormholes, time travel, or dark matter? It does that too.
Mr. Jones' apparent love for physics education shines through as he leads you step-by-step, subject-by-subject. He lays it out for you in a way that everyone can understand. Whether you just have an interest in how things may work in our universe, or you need more perspective on that topic you just discussed in class, String Theory for Dummies will work for you.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better guides I've read June 2, 2010
This is a very good introduction to the string theory. No math and the author does a pretty good judge of exampling very complex science in plan English. It also goes somewhat beyond String theory, by laying a good background in Newtonian Physics, Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. My only real knock against the book is that it does seem to skip around a bit. Clearly the author wanted to make it easy to pick up, look at the index and jump to topics. But if you read it front to back, it can be just a bit distracting. That is just a minor complaint though. I recommend String Theory for Dummies to any novices who are interested in the topic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep in mind what "Dummies" mean April 26, 2011
This is a book in the Dummies series and being a book in the Dummies series, you've got to put the value of the book in terms of the intended audience. Even though it seems contradictory, nearly everyone knows, or should know, by now that "Dummies" doesn't mean "stupid". It's meaning is closer to "ignorant"; that is, "not knowledgeable about". In other words, for relatively intelligent people who want to know and understand more about a subject than what they currently do.

This isn't easy to do, but Mr. Zimmerman-Jones does it well. He introduces all the topics necessary for understanding string theory, and all the issues surrounding it, one at a time. A lot of background is needed, but he doesn't dwell on any of those topics. He gives you the essential basics and then refers you to other books (Dummies and otherwise) if you want to know more.

He does indeed repeat information, but only as a means of tying everything together and his repetitions are not exhaustions of what he has explained before (and, in fact, he tells you where to look back at if you need a further review).

The book has good illustrations and lots of sidebars that inform the reader about related, but nonessential, topics and issues that needn't be wedged into the regular narrative.

One final word: I, too, enjoyed Pagels' books and was saddened years ago when he died in a mountain-climbing accident. But while his writing was clear, and I'd still recommend the Cosmic Code even though it's thirty years old, I don't think it's necessary to contrast String Theory for Dummies to Pagels' books To understand the subjects that he and Zimmerman-Jones are writing about require coming at them from several directions and I'd certainly recommend String Theory for Dummies as one of those directions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Andrew Jones has taken on a monumental task: explaining string theory, with all the underlying science and universe-wide implications, without much math and without any more technical terms than necessary. It's impressive how well he's succeeded. If that success is short of perfection, that only reflects, as he notes himself, how vast and complex the task is.
Jones opens by noting that some of the ideas presented here will be proven false. I like that: it prepares the reader for the convoluted story which begins with the first attempts at a science of physics and ends with a theory so esoteric that the mind really can't grasp it the way we do most scientific notions (try visualizing "rolled up" dimensions some time).
Jones opens with the why of string theory: the way relativity and quantum physics have been stopped short by the unsolved mystery of quantum gravity. He then steps back to the origins of physics and leads readers through the fits, starts, progress, blind alleys, and reversals that led to string theory being discovered, abandoned, revived as superstring theory, and modified into its current form, M-Theory.
Any theory will eventually die off if it can't be proven, and Jones explains the possibilities and problems of testing string theory, including either by observing the universe or in particle accelerators on Earth. He spends a chapter on the arguments that string theory is unprovable, simply wrong, or both. String theorists are split on how (or whether) whether the traditional scientific requirement that a theory be falsifiable applies to a theory of things we may never be able to observe directly. Another chapter looks at the main competitor, loop quantum gravity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book, easy to understand, and a fun read!
Published 3 days ago by jimbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Presented me with a much better understanding of the subject. This was exactly the type of information that I was looking for.
Published 1 month ago by Ralph L. Webber
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
For those of you who are like me and are interested in sceince, and trying to get some undersatanding of what "string theory" is, this book explains it very well.
Published 4 months ago by sebby
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book I Have Read Thus Far On This Subject!
Did the author miss anything? I think he covered every inch of String Theory. He even included theories that compete with with String Theory. Read more
Published 6 months ago by DonQ
3.0 out of 5 stars Avoiding mathematics at all cost
This is String Theory For Dummies. So you know what you will get. One of the main goal of this book is "to avoid mathematics at all cost" (p.2). Read more
Published 7 months ago by eltodesukane
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting Look Beyond String Theory
Never got a chance to write a review for this amazing book in Amazon. Better late than never. It was the one of the books that motivated me to learn and appreciate quantum... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ian Liberman
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish it had better explanations
Like most string theory books for the non-mathematical reader, this one has lots of history about ST, but not much about the details. Read more
Published 8 months ago by D. Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang
easy to understand so that you have plenty to coalesce in your thoughts. Book as expected it really maqkes a confusing difficult subject readable
Published 9 months ago by FRANK C. SIMONS
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for lay people like me. Simple language and will be a great...
Great for lay people like me. Straight forward, simple language. Great for reference. I can see myself referring to it often
Published 10 months ago by Jo Whitehead
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This book and the theories it describes shows that scientists have discovered faith, admitting they aren't able and won't be able to prove modern theories. Read more
Published 13 months ago by P. Burnett
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More About the Author

Hello. Welcome to my Author Page. I'm a writer of both science and science fiction works, most notably String Theory for Dummies (which would fall in the science category, though at times it feels like science fiction). I speak on science topics, especially its role in our society, and have appeared on Michio Kaku's nationally-syndicated radio program Science Fantastic.

My love of science and writing began at a young age, through the reading of science fiction. In the 8th grade, I tested into Mensa, mainly because my favorite author, Isaac Asimov, was also a member. I remain a member to this day. I am also an Eagle Scout and a Master Mason in the Freemasons ... which, in total, means that I have secret plans to take over the world, but will likely be a benevolent dictator. I'm also a member of Toastmasters International, so I'll be a well-spoken one as well.

I hold a degree in physics from Wabash College, where I graduated with honors and earned the Harold Q. Fuller Prize in Physics. (I also minored in mathematics and philosophy, but haven't written books on those subjects ... yet.) Since 2006, I have been the Physics Guide at, a New York Times company, where I am responsible for writing, editing, and maintaining all of the site's physics-related news, articles, and other content.

In 2008, I earned a Master's degree in Mathematics Education from Purdue University. I currently work days for an educational assessment company and spend my evenings, often after my wife and two sons have gone to bed, writing.

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