The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory - DJVU, LIT, PDF (w Figs)


Author: Brian Greene

Format: DJVU, LIT, PDF (w Figs)

Category: Study

Tag: Physics


Posted on 2007-06-22, updated at 2008-01-29. By anonymous.

Description

  • Author: Brian Greene

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (ISBN 0-375-70811-1) is a book by Brian Greene published in 2000 which introduces string theory and provides a comprehensive though non-technical assessment of the theory and some of its shortcomings.



Beginning with a brief consideration of classical physics, which concentrates on the major conflicts in physics, Greene establishes an historical context for string theory as a necessary means of integrating the probabilistic world of the standard model of particle physics and the deterministic Newtonian physics of the macroscopic world. Greene discusses the essential problem facing modern physics: unification of Einstein's theory of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Greene suggests that string theory is the solution to these two conflicting approaches. Greene uses frequent analogies and mental experiments to provide a means for the layman to come to terms with the theory which has the potential to create a unified theory of physics.



The Elegant Universe was adapted for a three hour program in three parts for television broadcast in late 2003 on the PBS series NOVA.



Links:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/elegantuniverse/ - SparkNotes: The Elegant Universe

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377171/ - The Elegant Universe at the Internet Movie Database

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/ - The Elegant Universe Home Page on PBS



There is an ill-concealed skeleton in the closet of physics: "As they are currently formulated, general relativity and quantum mechanics cannot both be right." Each is exceedingly accurate in its field: general relativity explains the behavior of the universe at large scales, while quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. Yet the theories collide horribly under extreme conditions such as black holes or times close to the big bang. Brian Greene, a specialist in quantum field theory, believes that the two pillars of physics can be reconciled in superstring theory, a theory of everything.

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

One of the more compelling scientific (cum-theological) questions in the Middle Ages was: "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" Today's version in cutting-edge science is, "How many strings... ?" As posited by s tring theory physics, strings are furiously vibrating loops of stuff. The concept of strings was devised to help scientists describe simultaneously both energy and matter. The frequency and resonance of strings' vibration, just like those of strings on an instrument, determine charge, spin and other familiar properties of energy?and eventually the structure of the universe: a true music of the spheres. There's a chance that strings are themselves made up of something still smaller. But scientists can prove their existence only on the blackboard and computer, because they are much too tiny?a hundred billion billion times smaller than the nucleus of an atom?to be observed experimentally. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Cornell and Columbia universities, makes the terribly complex theory of strings accessible

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