NOVA - The Elegant Universe
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Physicist Brian Greenes bestselling book comes to the small screen in this stimulating look at a complicated topic: the search for order in the universe. Is a revolutionary proposalstring theorythe answer scientists have been seeking for centuries? Greene tackles the mind-boggling complexity of the theory with vivid, clear images, and calmly points the way to the answer.
Based on Brian Greene's book, this three-part Nova program should do for physics what Cosmos did for astronomy. Greene hosts the program on the relative new concept of String Theory, a potential (and explosive) answer to the Holy Grail of science: a single, ultimate theory for everything. Part of Greene's (along with filmmakers Julia Cort and Joseph McMaster) genius is the ability to explain complex issues with ease thanks to a generous helping of graphics and humor. It starts with a perplexing anecdote: Einstein died trying to figure out if there could be an ultimate theory. His General Theory of Relativity brought order to the laws of large objects, but could not explain the chancier world of Quantum Mechanics (which deals with atomic particles). String Theory tries to marry the two. Greene and many colleagues give us a history of the quest and how String Theory was "discovered" in the 1980s. The formula has a lot of quirks, the most dazzling being the insistence there's 11 dimensions in the universe. Greene is not as natural as Cosmos creator/host Carl Sagan, but he is certainly friendly and encouraging (albeit it's quite odd for the host to be interviewed at various times in the program). Because it's a three-part show, there is some overlap at the start of hours 2 and 3. --Doug Thomas
- Contains all three episodes on two discs
- Bonus video: how the animation was created
- The Making of The Elegant Universe
- "Multidimensional Math" activity
- Printable materials for educators
- Excerpt from the book
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Top customer reviews
I thought the first DVD was great, and was just about to purchase this one because it sounded like a new program continuing where the first left off, but in fact it is EXACTLY the same program! I got the details from WGBH.org and here they are :-
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE AND BEYOND is a compliation of three different NOVA programs that have already aired. They are listed below with synopses on each one:
1) The Elegant Universe (WG36779)
Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory Join host Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe, for an in-depth exploration of the groundbreaking new string theory that will excite scientists and non-scientists alike. If string theory proves correct, the universe we see obscures a reality that is far richer and more complex than anyone ever imagined--a universe with numerous hidden dimensions, a universe in which the fabric of space can rip and tear, a universe that may be but one of many parallel universes
2) Einstein's Big Idea (WG38889)
Everyone's heard of it, but what does E=mc2 really mean? With brilliant period recreations, discover how an obscure patent clerk, Albert Einstein, came up with his shattering 1905 discovery that the realms of matter and energy are inescapably linked. Starring Aidan McArdle (Ella
Enchanted) as Einstein, and Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones's Diary) as Einstein's first wife, Mileva Maric.
3) Einstein Revealed (WG26479)
Journey into the mind of a genius in this penetrating profile of the world's most renowned physicist, who contributed more than any other to our modern vision of physical reality. Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers) stars as Albert Einstein.
I Hope this helps prevent anyone wasting their money buying the same program twice.
The videos included are:
Part 1: Einstein's Dream - 55 minutes
Part 2: String's the Thing - 55 minutes
Part 3: Welcome to the 11th Dimension - 55 minutes
Parts 1 and 2 are provided on the first DVD and Part 3 is provided on a second DVD.
The focus of the series is String Theory (M Theory) and I highly recommend it. It is as much a history lesson about the theory as an introduction to it. In spite of the "heady" nature of the subject, it is presented at a level for the novice and is informative and entertaining for the average person.
Sadly, the quality of the video transfer leaves something to be desired. The series was shot in widescreen but I don't know if it was shot in high definition (HD). Every time that I've seen it on an HD PBS channel, it has been broadcast in widescreen---but only in standard definition (SD).
The DVD transfer preserves the widescreen aspect ratio, but it is NOT anamorphic. Therefore, a letterbox format is used which reduces the vertical resolution and gives the videos a grainy appearance. What a waste! This is why I rate it 3 stars instead of 5. If it were available in HD on blu-ray, that is what I would have purchased.
In terms of video quality, Brian Greene's 2011 4-part Nova series "The Fabric of the Cosmos" is available in 1080i HD on blu-ray. It reuses some of the material from "The Elegant Universe"---it looks spectacular in HD and is highly recommended (I have a copy of it also). However, "The Fabric of the Cosmos" takes a broader perspective, making it a good companion but NOT a replacement for "The Elegant Universe". Since the latter is not available in HD on blu-ray, we're stuck with these DVDs. Too bad.
Still, the content of "The Elegant Universe" is the main thing and I recommend it.