The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Paperback Vintage Books

By (author) Brian Greene

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 464 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 36mm | 440g
  • Publication date: 29 February 2000
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 009928992X
  • ISBN 13: 9780099289920
  • Illustrations note: line illustrations
  • Sales rank: 26,332

Product description

In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where all matter is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. Greene uses everything from an amusement park ride to ants on a garden hose to explain the beautiful yet bizarre realities that modern physics is unveiling. Dazzling in its brilliance, unprecedented in its ability to both illuminate and entertain, The Elegant Universe is a tour de force of scientific writing - a delightful, lucid voyage through modern physics that brings us closer to understanding how the universe works.

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Author information

Brian Greene is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University and Cornell University.

Review quote

"Develops one fresh new insight after another... In the great tradition of physicists writing for the masses, The Elegant Universe sets a standard that will be hard to beat" New York Times Book Review "Utterly absorbing...a brilliant achievement. An accessible, equationless account of strings, explaining why they are generating so much excitement among their devotees. Greene's achievement is to make us feel at home in the chillingly abstract world of strings and to convince us that we must take it seriously" Sunday Telegraph "As rewarding as it gets... A thrilling ride through a lovely landscape... A compelling human saga" Los Angeles Times Book Review "Compulsively readable...Green threatens to do for string theory what Stephen Hawking did for holes" New York "[A] tour-de-force of science writing...peels away layers of detail and reveals the stunning essence of cutting-edge physics" -- Shing-Tung Yau, Harvard University; Fields Medalist, winner of the National Medal of Science

Editorial reviews

Superstring theory may provide the long-sought unification of physics for which Einstein sought in vain. Here is a look at the current state of the quest. Greene (a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia and Cornell) begins by pointing out the central problem of modern physics. Quantum mechanics and general relativity both work perfectly, and they cannot both be right. Relativity works for large, massive objects; quantum theory for tiny ones. Normally, the two realms can be kept separate. Yet increasingly, physics deals with phenomena such as black holes, where the conflicts are impossible to avoid. Out of the search for a more complete explanation came string theory. Its foundations were laid down some 30 years ago by Gabriele Venizano, who found that a two-century-old formula by Leonard Euler described subatomic particles more elegantly than existing theory. The relationships would make sense if elementary particles were not pointlike, but elongated and vibrating, like tiny musical strings - in one sense, a modern version of the ancient metaphor of the music of the spheres. It took a while for physicists to embrace string theory; for one thing, it seemed to predict things nobody had ever seen. And despite its formidable explanatory power, its mathematical expressions were often even more formidable - Greene describes some of the equations as nearly impossible to understand, let alone solve. Still, it has the right look about it, and two waves of enthusiasm (one in the mid-1980s, the other ten years later) have convinced many physicists of the theory's probable validity. Greene deftly summarizes these findings, in areas from subatomic-particle theory to cosmology, with occasional forays into deeper waters such as the ten-dimensional structure of the universe, with several dimensions folded undetectably back into themselves. A final chapter forecasts that string theory will become the standard physical model in the next century. Entertaining and well-written - possibly the clearest popular treatment to date of this complex subject. (Kirkus Reviews)