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The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory Hardcover – October 17, 2003
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Brian Greene received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Some of the reviewers have faulted Professor Greene for communicating his ideas without using complicated mathematics. To me, this is one of strengths of this and other similar books that are written for the lay people. Those readers who are mathematical geniuses can find plenty of other resources to suit their taste. Others think that it is inappropriate to write about incomplete theories that cannot be experimentally verified at the present time. This is absurd. This is what the progress of science is all about. I thank Brian Greene for sharing his ideas so clearly with the rest of us. I am going to talk to my young daughter about this book in the hopes of inspiring her to someday join the minds who want to unlock the mysteries of our universe.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed learning more about the weirdness of quantum physics, but some of this was definitely over my head. Read morePublished 3 days ago by BellaGrace
This book, along with Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos, are my all-time favorite books on quantum theory and string theory. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Michael J. Rhodes, Award-Winning Author of The Freedom Code
I have enjoyed Brian Greene's work for many years and had this in hard copy. I wanted to reread it in electronic form as a more convenient format. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Eric Fleming
It arrived earlier than expected and was just was I was looking for. It's in perfect quality and I can't wait to start reading it! Thank you!Published 12 days ago by Megan
I wish I had finished studying quantum theories in college 40 years ago. I did not.understand everything in thiis book but I thoroughly enjoyed it.Published 14 days ago by Dennis DeLisle
Absolutely fascinating. Greene breaks down scientific concepts and opened my eyes to the astrophysics that I had always heard about, but never really understood. Read morePublished 17 days ago by S. Carlin
As a dummy, I have learned a few more things about Einstein's theories that I have not understood before. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Robert Leth
I'm glad I've obtained a better understanding of the string theory as it stands, but the book failed to convince me that the string theory is more than an abstract mathematical... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Max Galkin