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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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
This book is great. It's a great way to learn about String Theory without being a PHD student. The book is fairly outdated though so I'd recommend one of Brian Greene's newer books... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Matthew
It's not easy to write a book about such a technically demanding subject for a general audience, and get the ideas across without the mathematics that supports them. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Brenda Brown
Amazing. Mr. Greene does an incredible job breaking down these un-heard of theories and facts of the universe to a understandable level. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Sam
A highly readable review of the developments of the last couple of hundred years but concentrating on the - what was for me - mysterious developments of string/M theory. Read morePublished 11 days ago by P. Roberts
It was a great read. Admittedly, there were some parts I just couldn't wrap my head around. That is no fault of Brian Greene though. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of three books that I bought on Amazon for my son and he absolutely loves them.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer