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The Fabric of the Cosmos (Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  19,555 ratings  ·  659 reviews
From Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists and author the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elegant Universe, comes a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way.

Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Coul
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Paperback, 569 pages
Published 2004 by Alfred Knopf (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Greg
I like to talk shit about science sometimes. Sometimes it's just to push people's buttons and other times it's because of the pop side of science is ridiculous (you know like the studies that get quoted on your web-browsers start-up page, which may even be contradicted a few days from now by some other article, or all those fucking pharmaceutical ad's on TV. Hey, thanks Pfizer for helping make me a drug addict!). I just made a slight at pop-science and that is hypocritical of me, it's really the ...more
Trevor
Did you know that Schrödinger’s equation is a perfect anagram of “A Second Herring Quits”? And is a near perfect anagram of “Surely someone’s taking the piss”? The second anagram relies, of course (and almost entirely), on a rather judicious application of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle – but I do think that one may be more illuminating of how I’m finding some of the quantum mechanical experiments described in this book.

There is part of me that would like to believe that in the early part o
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Jen Padgett Bohle
Dec 13, 2007 Jen Padgett Bohle rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tenacious liberal arts majors and science geeks
Hmmm...I can now talk basics about String Theory and physics at a cocktail party. Get me into anything more than general commentary, discoveries, famous names and famous theories, and I'm completely at a loss. Green is a likable and passionate author, but for readers without a physics knowledge base, his little treatise is tough going, even with all the Simpsons references. I remember the most important concepts, but the intricacies didn't stick with me. This book is best read in segments, prefe ...more
Joe
You probably know more about physics than you think.

See, right there, when your brain registered the p-word, a black hole of anxiety opened up in the pit of your stomach from which nothing can escape. Your underarms began to radiate heat as your mind conjured memories of stuffy high school laboratories. And as your eyes scanned ahead for those dreaded half-English, half-Greek words followed by an equal sign, the probability of you reading on fast approached zero.

But there’s hope! Whether you re
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Kristen
I GIVE UP

You win this round science book **(shakes fist in anger)**

In fact, after reading this book I've given up on science completely in favor the Nabokovian theory of very young earth creationism: The World Was Created This Morning.
"Theoretically there is no absolute proof that one's awakening in the morning (the finding oneself again in the saddle of one's personality) is not really a quite unprecedented event, a perfectly original birth."

Yeah, that does make a bit more sense than most of
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Stian
Let's start with the positives:

Greene does an excellent job of explaining very hard-to-understand concepts in non-mathematical ways. That said, I think it was unecessary to use popular culture the way he did. It feels silly, reading about Einstein and general relativity and getting an example which uses the Kwik-E-Mart, Bart, and Lisa and so forth. But okay, I admit that this is a fairly small detail that shouldn't take too much away from the overall experience. The important thing is that the
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Fortunr
Wow, what a wonderful book. What a ride it was.
Brian is definitely one of the best science popularisers about, hands down. It is amazing how he manages to convey potentially complex subjects, such as quantum mechanics and relativity, in a simple but at the same time rigorous manner. And he does that with a contagious enthusiasm which reminded to me why I love physics. I also greatly appreciated the fact that he never gets into the game (like so frequently happens in popular science books, unfor
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Larry Webber
I finally finished Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos and I am more confused than ever about string theory, M-theory and the nature of spacetime.
I feel as though I should read the book again. I guess at least now I am familiar enough with the concepts which confuse me to be able to sound like I know something about general relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory over beers with friends, and that's the important thing, right?
Greene uses lots of pop cultural referenced examples to illustr
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Mike
This is a great book that does an excellent job of explaining some of the toughest ideas in modern physics. My only criticism is that Greene can't figure out who his audience is: there's an odd mix of esoterica and the mundane. Most of the esoteric stuff is banished to the footnotes, which are well worth reading--and I suppose I should be happy that it's there at all, since most books on modern science are written with Hawking's Editor's Law in mind: with each equation, your audience shrinks by ...more
Paul 'Pezski' Perry
Apr 12, 2015 Paul 'Pezski' Perry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to understand our universe
Glancing at the reviews for Brian Greene's overview of how we view the stuff of which our universe is made, it seems that some people base their rating and opinion on how much they agree with the science, or how credible they find it. While I have read a fair few popular science books – especially in the areas of physics and cosmology, areas I find utterly fascinating and about which I am perplexed that anyone can not be astounded and beguiled – I have to assume that I am reading a fair explanat ...more
Wayne Barrett
“Cosmology is among the oldest subjects to captivate our species. And it’s no wonder. We’re storytellers, and what could be more grand than the story of creation?”
Admittedly, my head was spinning quite a bit during this read. After all, trying to understand quantum physics is something my brain just isn't wired to do.
I love science, and even though volumes like this can be a task to get through, I am always left enlightened and amazed at the facts and philosophies of existence and all that it e
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Diana
“Ако не можеш да обясниш нещо на баба си, значи ти самият не го разбираш.” (казал Айнщайн)
Без съмнение учените разбират от това, с което се занимават. Но на много от тях, пишещи и книги, липсва тази тъничка подробност с обясняването и простичкото предаване на сложната материя. От тези, които съм чела, с изключение на Карл Сейгън, Боб Бърман и Брайън Грийн, на останалите в различна степен им е трудно да избягат от академичния стил, сложните термини и формулите. Грийн обаче успява доста добре, ма
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David
This is a nice overview of modern physics, including implications of relativity (specific and general), quantum mechanics and string theory, together with a discussion of the implications for cosmology. Some of the interesting items discussed here include the notion that during the "Planck time", ie, 10^(-34) sec or so after the Big Bang, space and time had no meaning, that our 3-D universe may be only an illusion of an underlying 11-dimensional universe, and reality may be coded in a cosmic "ho ...more
J.M. Hushour
Being utterly unscientific (I still believe toasters toast toast by invoking thrice the name of said bread and summoning forth a kind of crisping deity), I pounce on shit for the lay reader. Sacks, Sagan, Ramachandran, Richard Simmons, etc. I had never heard of Brian Greene and have typically held physics and such things at arm's length, with my other hand pinching my nose shut as if holding the world's most curious diaper: there is probably much of interest within to parse out, but noxious enou ...more
DJ
If mathematically challenged aliens (who had somehow acquired a spacecraft) landed on Earth and requested a single book to sum up our species' understanding of space, time, and physics, we would do best to give them The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Pop sci books on physics have a nasty habit of either aiming too general and leaving the reader with only a fuzzy sense of awe or aiming too specific and leaving the reader with a few random facts and a general confusion over how scientists can get so excited
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Vuka :3
This is as fine (or very near) as popular physics goes. Although the book is maybe a bit too simple at times, I really enjoyed how Greene is able to present some very difficult concepts by gradually building up ideas. Instead of jumping over here and over there, he leads the reader in a very precise (well, as precise as you can get without serious mathematics) and logical manner which seems to be satisfying both to the layman and to the expert. Excellent!
Gary
"A First step for understanding the universe."

He mentions in the beginning that a refutation for the Albert Camus question why don't we all just commit suicide is because we can learn about the universe and discover our place in it while we're alive. After reading this book, you'll always have unfinished business in discovering more and more about the universe. This book is a very good intro to physics and discovering about the universe.
Mel
The book focused mainly on the concepts of space and time, and how they build the universe around us. Starting with the concept of space and how that's changed over the years, then time and how that's changed and now the concept of spacetime, and then the universe itself. A large part of the book was used trying to explain, "time's arrow" why things go forward but never backwards, why entropy is always greater in the future and never the past. It was all very interesting. At times I did get a bi ...more
Michael
If there is one subject I struggle with, it's the hard sciences. But Brian Greene's book is written exactly for people like me who probably haven't picked up a science book since high school and are mathmatically handicapped. And given the importance of the research going on, the discoveries so far, and the possibilities that are coming soon that may change our world in some really significant ways, it is also an important book.
In a nutshell, Greene delivers what we know and what we theorize
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David
Referencing Camus’ ultimate philosophical statement that the only question worth considering is suicide, Brian Green states at the beginning of this book that the ultimate question is really, “What is space?” and takes some 500+ pages to trace the chase for an answer. He nailed the question, but never came to a definitive answer—because there isn’t one. But he did an incredible job of discussing it, taking a hack like myself through the paces of Newtonian physics, Einstein’s theories of relativi ...more
Jay
Did Greene plagiarise a section of his book? More on that later.

Oh, god, I'm surprised I finished it. For the most part, I enjoy theoretical physics. I'm not sure if I believe everything that theoretical physics proposes (but then again, I'm not one for blindly allowing myself to be pulled along by an entity I can't see), but I enjoy it nonetheless. And I wanted to enjoy this book, I really did. Greene offers some thought provoking ideas, and he even mentions at one point the author of one of my
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John
Lots of really interesting things in this book. I didn't realize physics had progressed so far in finding a unification theory.

What I found most interesting would probably horrify the author because, while he didn't say so in so many words, he apparently really believes that physics is, or can be, the answer to everything. I, on the other hand, believe there is a God, the Christian God, who has a hand in our existence.

I have always thought it curious that descriptions of God or angels appearing
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Campbell Mcaulay
This is is a life changing book on a par with Blind Watchmaker.

I was a little daunted by the subject material to begin with, but soon lost my inhibitions - it's not half as bad as I expected and I'm actually finding myself second-guessing some of the directions and explanations that author is taking in explaining the wierdness of the relativistic and quantum worlds. Either I'm not as deeply stupid as I thought or Greene's treatment is perfect for the non-expert reader.

It's still a challenging
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Bob Nichols
In this book Greene is surprisingly unclear regarding Einstein's theory of special and general relativity.

On the special theory, Greene puts a guy named Bart on a skateboard "reading, whistling, yawning, and occasionally glancing at the road" (why is this relevant?), initially heading north, but when he shifts to the northeast, his speed to the north is diverted and slowed down. "That, in a nutshell, is special relativity," Greene writes, presumably showing a relationship between time and space
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Omar nagib
in comparison with other best-selling popular science books as "the grand design" and "brief history of time", this book is the best of all among my readings so far.

it's written in a very simple language so that a non-native English speaker like me can understand it easily, the use of common analogies to convey deep scientific ideas is very useful,contains lots of diagrams which are informative, it covers very wide range of areas in physics starting from classical mechanics to relativity and qua
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Erica
Physics is such a strange science, and yet, it's also the most elemental. The wild theories these folks come up with are mind-bending, almost whimsical. But are mathmaticians the only ones who have a claim on reality? There seems to be a strain of hubris running through the book - if we keep running more and more experiments and solving more complex math problems, we'll have all the answers. One YouTube video description refers to Greene as an "evangelist" and it's difficult to argue with that c ...more
Laura Cowan
Somewhat similar to Sean Carroll's From Eternity to Here, all about the nature of the universe, time, and how quantum physics is both revolutionizing our worldview and still leaves us major challenges to overcome in pursuing a unified theory of spacetime that explains all phenomena. My only issue with Brian Greene is that he repeats certain statements and material a bit from section to section and book to book. This is probably good for people only reading certain sections because you have to ha ...more
Kim
I admit that I skimmed a lot of the string theory parts because 1. I've read The Elegant Universe, 2. string theory isn't really my jam, and 3. I've accepted that I'm never going to be able to really understand string theory beyond what I already do. That aside, I found it an engaging, mostly well-articulated overview of modern physics/cosmology, and I particularly enjoyed the sections on entropy and the arrow of time.
Art
Jun 30, 2008 Art rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Art by: Katharine
God, where should I start. I was first turned on to this book by Kat. Her brain is much more powerful than mine, so I am now reading it again to try and get my thoughts around a little more of it. It is an excellent book; however, I just lack the background knowledge to fully understand a lot of it. Perhaps I should say, to understand it at any applicable level. I can understand most of the concepts and ideas, I just cannot envision many of them. Still, the little I have been able to absorb has ...more
Barbor Ka
A vegan writes a book about physics. He does not forget to mention in it, that he is vegan.
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Brian Greene is an American theoretical physicist and one of the best-known string theorists. He has been a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University since 1996. He has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public and a related PBS television special.
More about Brian Greene...
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Icarus at the Edge of Time The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006 隠れていた宇宙 [Kakurete Ita Uchū] 1

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“Cosmology is among the oldest subjects to captivate our species. And it’s no wonder. We’re storytellers, and what could be more grand than the story of creation?” 25 likes
“Understanding requires insight. Insight must be anchored.” 24 likes
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