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Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos

  1. Feb 5, 2004 #1
    I have a copy of Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos in my hand, just starting to read it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2004 #2


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    How is it? The reviews on Amazon.com are mixed. Any new info from his previous book?

    I heard his interview on NPR Feb 16. He did a good job overall. Too bad NPR allowed way too much airtime to an angry Young Earth Creationist.
  4. Feb 19, 2004 #3
    I've been waiting for it to turn up at one of the Libraries around here, but it hasn't yet...how's the book? When you're done reading it, you should write a review in the Science Book Reviews forum.
  5. Feb 21, 2004 #4
    Disappointing - it repeats a lot that is in his previous pop sci book, and also repeats a lot of material that is covered in many other pop sci books by other authors, such as the history of QM, the genesis of relativity, Bell's theorem, etc.. I wish he had spent more time on string and m-theory, especially on recent developments. Overall a decent book, worth reading, but I expected more. I think a high school student with an interest in science could get a lot out of it by reading it as a non-mathematical introduction to modern physics, but much of the material in the book is already known to many at that level.
  6. Feb 21, 2004 #5


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    At the level Brian is talking at, there is only so much that can be said. Its hard putting eqns into words, and not repeating what others have already published.

    Any less laymen than that, and math will have to be introduced. Once that happens, kiss the reader count goodbye.

    Many of his proffessional papers are on very complicated subjects, like mirror symetry, orbifolds, Calabi-Yau compactification schemes etc

    I challenge anyone to talk about those subjects with no ambiguity, in simple english.
  7. Feb 21, 2004 #6


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    As you all have already guessed, Greene is targeting the laymen "masses" and he does a very good job of it. He is able to take a difficult concept and simplify it to make it understandable by just about anyone. That in itself is quite a feat. As a layman, I appreciate it. I haven't read Fabric yet, but if it contains the colorful anecdotes that "Elegant Universe" contained, it should be entertaining.
  8. Feb 21, 2004 #7


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    I guess this (i.e., being disappointed by new pop sci books) is a common occurrance once you have read a number of them. As Haelfix and Evo said, there is not much that could have changed from the time he wrote The Elegant Universe.

    I somehow miss the time when each new pop sci book I read had new amazing properties of the universe that I had never heard of before... I guess that's a fair price to pay for learning the real stuff.
  9. Feb 23, 2004 #8
    True, true. After rereading what I wrote I think I was being overly negative. I was disappointed perhaps by expecting more heavy duty math. The Elegant Universe has a little more weight in the math department, and when it came out I knew almost nothing of string theory, so it was a book that I learned a lot from. Brian Greene is a good writer, and one of the seminal thinkers of string theory.

    Yes, and he has done such a good job, along with others such as Michio Kaku, of discussing these matters that we all understand them on an intuitive level, hence our boredom.

    I would like to see more books that combine quick, intuitive descriptions with heavy duty math. The problem in many technical papers is that the point what is being done is lost in all the detail of how it is being done. Jeffery Weeks' book The Shape of Space is one that falls in this category, tho I think it needs a little more mathematical detail.
  10. Feb 27, 2004 #9
    Kaku seems to have made an thriving business from quantum theory. When I sent him an e-mail a while ago, I got an ad in return. Does he get a cut for this website?
  11. Feb 27, 2004 #10
    What was the ad? I used to be a moderator on mkaku.org forums before it merged with physics forums, I know that they were looking for ways to raise more money so they could expand the scope of the website - they had discussed advertising products that would be of interest to the science/math communities. He went out of his way to send me a personally inscribed copy of his book on m-theory.
  12. Feb 27, 2004 #11
    This was an ad generated by my sending Kaku a link to my website about 4 years ago. It promoted one of his popular books. He appeared not to be so self-promoting as much as dollar-driven. However, I believe he is truly a world-class theoretician and a good man concerned with disseminating physics to the public.
  13. Feb 27, 2004 #12
    Maybe it is to buy his suits. From photos I have seen of him I have noticed that he has a taste for expensive suits. I am sure his salary is not huge - I doubt he is dollar driven - he could get a job anywhere but he has chosen a university where he teaches students of modest means. His family was not wealthy when he was growing up.
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