The Elegant Universe: Superstring Theory Explained for Layman

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In summary: I don't know. I don't know what to think.In summary, The Elegant Universe is a very good book that is suitable for anyone, regardless of their level of physics knowledge. It is an excellent introduction to superstring theory, and its technical papers are some of the best that I have read.
  • #1
Mentat
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The Elegant Universe is the best possible introduction to superstring theory, especially for a layman (as far as mathematics goes).

Brain Greene uses fitting illustrations, and very good analogies, to make complex points easily understandable.

He warns you before going into anything where he might lose those without great interest in details, and tries to make sure that he doesn't bog one down with such details.

One thing I really appreciated is that Prof. Greene explains the seeming incompatibilities, before saying anything about how string theory resolves them. He makes sure that you understand the inconsistencies, so that you can really appreciate the resolution - given by string theory.
 
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  • #2
Originally posted by Mentat
The Elegant Universe is the best possible introduction to superstring theory, especially for a layman (as far as mathematics goes).

Couldn't agree more! A 'best buy'.

Cheers,

ron.
 
  • #3
In my opinion, this is the best physics book ever written. I can't put it down.
 
  • #4
I also totaly agree. I'm 15 and found it not only an excellent introduction to the superstring theory but also got me interested in the whole world of theoretical physics.
 
  • #5
Originally posted by Jack
I also totaly agree. I'm 15 and found it not only an excellent introduction to the superstring theory but also got me interested in the whole world of theoretical physics.
Yes. same here. I got the book for my 16th birthday last year.
 
  • #6
I think the book was pretty good too. I've only begun reading it, and I find it to be very addicting.
 
  • #7
I am about half way through this book and I can't put it down. I only took 2 physics classes in college (and didn't pay much attention), but this book is interesting and well written. I reccomend it highly.

I'm not sure if everyone is aware of this, but a 3 hour NOVA documentary was made from this book. There is a very good website of the documentary here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/

and you can also watch the entire 3 hour documentary online here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/program.html
 
  • #8
I liked the book very much, but pretty much got lost in it towards the last couple of chapters. I will probably have another go at it in a while.
 
  • #9
Yes, this book was excellent. I actually got to meet Dr. Greene. He did a two-day lecture on string theory at my school (McMaster University) in October. Very cool guy.
 
  • #10
I was at Border's a couple of weeks ago, and noticed Greene now has a new book, The Fabric of the Cosmos - has anyone read this one yet? I read The Elegant Universe and really liked the book, and would have considered Fabric if it weren't only in hardback right now (and thus outside of my fiscal range).
 
  • #11
I have not read The Fabric...yet but the reviews on Amazon were not that great.
 
  • #12
Excellent book, I've not finished yet, but the introduction to the randomness of quantum mechanics is set up so that anyone can understand it (eventually). I am 16, some of the stuff is weird, but its presented quite logically, highly recomed it, good read.
 
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  • #13
I picked up the Elegant universe which I basically got for Free when I bought Fabric and still in the first few pages of the book, however I won't necessarily assume the Fabric is bad just because the reviews says so. I'll read it first then draw my own conclusions.
 
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  • #14
? where did you read that

Phobos said:
I have not read The Fabric...yet but the reviews on Amazon were not that great.
I checked the revies of fabric of the cosmos by greene and it got 4.5 stars out of 5, the reviews were mostly great
 
  • #15
I just leafed through it, but it seemed to cover material that was in a lot of other books. Deja vu all over again could account for the differences of opinion.
 
  • #16
Exactly. It covers material already covered in a lot of other books, both those written by Greene and those written by other authors. It is also written on a more basic level than "The Elegant Universe". It is worth reading, but if you have read a lot on physics you will end up doing a lot of skimming.
 
  • #17
By the way, Greene's technical papers are among the best I've read, both comprehensive and detailed.
 
  • #18
He has a way to write both technically and to the general public, its a rare gift for a physics person to be able to communicate with the layman
 
  • #19
I'm in the process of reading Fabric of the Cosmos, and find it extremely well written and very interesting. And from the positive talk about it here, I'll definitely read The Elegant Universe when I'm finished.
 
  • #20
LastOneStanding said:
I'm in the process of reading Fabric of the Cosmos, and find it extremely well written and very interesting. And from the positive talk about it here, I'll definitely read The Elegant Universe when I'm finished.

You know, I just realized that it may be a better idea to read Fabric before The Elegant Universe, since -- according to what I've heard from those who've read it, or are reading it -- Fabric is more basic than The Elegant Universe. Perhaps that's why I couldn't get through much of it; I'd read The Elegant Universe and so reading Fabric of the Cosmos felt like I was graduating 8th grade into Elementary school :frown:.
 
  • #21
daedalus said:
A related book that has just been published is called The Great Beyond: Higher Dimensions, Parallel Universes and the Extraordinary Search for a Theory of Everything, by Paul Halpern. It includes considerable details about the lives and work of the scientists involved in higher-dimensional theories, from Kaluza, Klein and Einstein to contemporary superstring theorists such as Randall, Sundrum and Witten. Full of interesting stories, it provides the historical context and background for many of the ideas described in Elegant Universe.

Well, now I want to read it, but the only thing in any nearby library that's called "The Great Beyond" is a C.D. by R.E.M. :frown:. I'll go check out the bookstores though. Thanks for the reference, daedalus.
 
  • #22
I think the the fabric of the cosmos is a must read for people who may, like myself, struggled with some finer points in th elegant universe
 
  • #23
Yes , the book is very interestring!
 
  • #24
I think Greene definitely wrote these books in the wrong order. What is good about 'Fabric' is that it elaborates on the theories that surround M-theory, it gives you a better idea of why M-theory is so incredible. Unfortunately I have recently been hearing a lot about the potential short-comings of string theory.
 
  • #25
Just finished reading The Elegant Universe... enthralled through the first half; felt i was swimming against the tide through most of the second half, particularly when he got onto M-theory. I'm sure i'll dip back into it as time goes on...
 
  • #26
I didn't finish reading it, but I thought it was a really good book and explained very well.
 
  • #27
I have been reading the elegant universe for monthes... taking notes and researching aspects... of the book. I can't believe how much information can be put into one book. However I have heard that fabric is very much a simplified version the elegant universe... however i have still bought it.

Elegant universe is my favorite book i have ever read in my life and I am only around a little over half way through it.
 
  • #28
selfAdjoint said:
I just leafed through it, but it seemed to cover material that was in a lot of other books. Deja vu all over again could account for the differences of opinion.
I'm wrestling with Hawking's newest corrected position on Super Massive Black Hole Theory and his contention that parallelism is no longer necessary. I got the impression that his revised formulae had put the kabash on the need for other popular competing theories. I would like to know if this is reasonable and hence viable, or if M-Theory and parallelism still maintain respectable places of their own in modern theoretical physics alongside Hawking's theories?

Ps...I missed the book but I'll be sure to catch the movie.
 
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Related to The Elegant Universe: Superstring Theory Explained for Layman

1. What is superstring theory?

Superstring theory is a theoretical framework in physics that attempts to reconcile the currently accepted theories of general relativity (which describes the large-scale behavior of objects in the universe) and quantum mechanics (which describes the behavior of subatomic particles) into a single, unified theory. It proposes that all particles in the universe are actually tiny vibrating strings, and the different vibrations of these strings produce the different particles and forces that we observe.

2. How does superstring theory explain the universe?

Superstring theory proposes that the universe is made up of 10 dimensions: the three dimensions of space that we are familiar with, one dimension of time, and six additional dimensions that are curled up and invisible to us. These extra dimensions are necessary for the theory to work mathematically and can help explain phenomena like gravity and the behavior of subatomic particles.

3. Is superstring theory supported by evidence?

At this time, there is no direct experimental evidence for superstring theory. However, it is considered a promising theory because it has the potential to unify the currently accepted theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Scientists are still working on developing experiments and observations that could potentially provide evidence for superstring theory.

4. Can superstring theory be tested?

Yes, superstring theory makes several predictions that could potentially be tested through experiments or observations. For example, it predicts the existence of additional dimensions, so scientists are looking for ways to detect these dimensions through experiments using particle accelerators or telescopes.

5. Can superstring theory be understood by non-scientists?

Superstring theory is a complex and mathematically challenging theory, so it can be difficult for non-scientists to fully understand. However, there are many resources available, such as books and documentaries, that aim to explain the theory in simpler terms for a layman audience. With effort and patience, anyone can gain a basic understanding of superstring theory.

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