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The Elegant Universe


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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.


"Eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made up of strings. And it's not science fiction, it's string theory." With this statement, NOVA host Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, where he is one of the world's foremost string theorists, takes the viewer on an intriguing journey called The Elegant Universe. String theory is a unified theory of the universe postulating that fundamental ingredients of nature are not zero-dimensional point particles but tiny one-dimensional filaments called strings. String theory harmoniously unites quantum mechanics and general relativity, the previously known laws of the small and the large that are otherwise incompatible. Using humor, graphics, and familiar images to explain the current thoughts of laws of the universe, along with guest speakers to clarify the concepts, the program presents its theories via visuals. Linking Einstein's theories of the laws of the universe with those of Isaac Newton's laws of gravity, Greene develops the theory of strings and connects it to Einstein's thinking on relativity. Pure science buffs and even courses on physics or astronomy would find this program beneficial as a supplemental aid. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources, Bronx Community Coll., CUNY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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 to all. He possesses a remarkable gift for using the everyday to illustrate what may be going on in dimensions beyond our feeble human perception. Just when we might be tempted to dismiss strings as grist for the publish-or-perish mill, Greene explains how they have demonstrated connections between mathematics and physics that have helped solve age-old conundrums in each field. This book will appeal to astronomy as well as math and physics fans because it probes the important insights string theory gives into hotly debated issues in cosmology. Later chapters require careful attention to Greene's explications, but the effort will prepare readers to follow the scientific advances likely to be made in the next millennium through application of string theory. Author tour. (Feb.)

"[A] delightful, lucid introduction to the greatest problem in all of physics, the quest to unify all the laws of nature. Greene does a masterful job in presenting complex materials in a lively, engaging manner. Highly recommended to anyone who has ever gazed at the heavens and wondered, as Einstein did, if God had a choice in making the universe." -- Michio Kaku, author of Hyperspace and Visions "Everyone who is curious about the horizons of theoretical physics-past, present, and future-will enjoy this book." -- Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study "[A] beautifully crafted account of string theory-a theory that appears to be a most promising waystation on the road to an ultimate theory of everything. His book gives a clear, simple, yet masterful account that makes a complex theory very accessible to nonscientists but is also a delightful; read for the professional." -- David M. Lee, professor of physics, Cornell University "[A] tour-de-force of science writing. Perhaps more than any other popular-level account, this book peels away layers of detail and reveals the stunning essence of cutting-edge physics. With a rare blend of scientific integrity and literary flair, the author takes us on a whirlwind journey to the forefront of the search for the ultimate theory of the universe." -- Shing-Tung Yau, Harvard University; Fields Medalist, winner of the National Medal of Science "Greene does an admirable job of translating a wholly mathematical endeavor into visual terms. Throughout his work, he writes with poetic eloquence and style." -- Marcia Bartusiak - Washington Post Book World "Brian Greene...makes the terribly complex theory of strings accessible to all. He possesses a remarkable gift for using the everyday to illustrate what may be going on in dimensions beyond our feeble human perception." -- Publishers Weekly "Compulsively readable...Greene threatens to do for string theory what Stephen Hawking did for black holes." -- New York "As rewarding as it gets...A thrilling ride through a lovely landscape." -- Los Angeles Times

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