The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory (The Complete Idiot's Guides)

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Everything is connected… We're living in the midst of a scientific revolution that has captured the general public's attention and imagination. The aim of this new revolution is to develop a "theory of everything" -- a set of laws of physics that will explain all that can be explained, ranging from the tiniest subatomic particle to the universe as a whole. Here, readers wi...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Alpha
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Steven Colyer
George Musser has written an excellent introduction to cutting-edge Planck-length scale speculative Physics with the publication of this book. I will conclude this post with my Amazon review. Before doing so, I wish to point out that another similarly-titled book has just been published: String Theory for Dummies, by Andrew Zimmerman Jones. Both are aimed at the Intelligent Layman, but are quite different. Musser, I feel, gives a better and more objective overview of current issues and alternati...more
Dwight Cates
Excellent, non-mathematical introduction to string theory, one of the competitors for the Theory of Everything.

So why do we need strings? Well, there are (so far as we know) four fundamental forces in the universe. Unfortunately, right now we need two theories to explain them all -

In the world of the ultra-small quantum mechanics has been incredibly successful at describing what goes on at the molecular level and below. It's been experimentally verified many times over and unites electromagneti...more
Liza Gilbert
Well, it doesn't fulfill the "Idiot" portion of its title. To read this book you either need a basic background in quantum physics or the kind of patience required to read and reread many sections of the book.

Musser did an excellent job of explaining what was theory and what had actually been proven, and he also illustrated competing theories. The graphics were a lifesaver, and made difficult passages easier to understand.

I do have a better grasp on string theory after reading this book. However...more
Sara
I'm not going to pretend I read this whole book. I didn't even come close.
I checked it out at my library because I am looking into a possible major in physics and I just wanted to see what was going on. (I am very much leaning against majoring in it though.)

Other reviewers are commenting that it is difficult to understand, but if you have a basic knowledge of physics you can probably manage.

I won't be able to explain string theory to someone now, but I will be able to answer them if they ask m...more
Pedro Plassen
Provides a decent introduction about the Relativity Theory, Quantum physics, time, black holes (interesting explanations about what might be inside them), Big Bang; dotting with some visual examples allowing the reader to understand. After that it goes, not to deeply, in to the String Theory itself, also mentioning its competing theory - Quantum Loop Gravity. The author is careful to remark these are 'in development' theories which still might not be enough to find a unifying theory that explain...more
Mr. B
Regardless of what the title says, this book is not for idiots. I'm guessing that someone with a background in physics would be able to access the material a little easier, but I found myself reading passages and not understanding what I had just read. It was a good lesson for me as a teacher--I have more empathy for students who struggle.

I did learn a lot, though, and not just about strings: quantum mechanics, relativity, loop gravitity... my brain is leaking from my ears.
AmblingBooks
"George Musser presents the multidimensional world of string theory in this fantastic primer on all things physics�.The book is not only for beginners, but its lucid explanations ensure that even an idiot will emerge with an ear for the strange music of reality." � New Scientist

Listen to The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory on your iPhone, desktop, or smartphone.
Matt Bracksieck
Regardless of what the title says, this book is not for idiots. I'm guessing that someone with a background in physics would be able to access the material a little easier, but I found myself reading passages and not understanding what I had just read. It was a good lesson for me as a teacher--I have more empathy for students who struggle.

I did learn a lot, though, and not just about strings: quantum mechanics, relativity, loop gravitity... my brain is leaking from my ears.
Ben
Glad I read it, but I think the imagery and analogies make many of the subjects even more difficult. But its a difficult tasks to try and cover the topic for a variety of readers.

Still somewhat enlightening on some physical topics, but hopefully it will be outdated soon with more research and discovery :)
Bram
The book is difficult to understand, certainly not for idiots.

What's wrong with all these silly metaphors? For example,
"The amount of energy comes in discrete units, like M&Ms. You can’t eat half an M&M and you can’t have half a unit of energy; it’s either one or zero."
BAKU
This is the book I wish I could mail to myself in the past. ( Tachyonic anti-mail ? ) To when I was 11. ( The explication of Bell's inequality sucks, but everything else is great ) List's Borge's ' Ficcione ' in the ' further reading ' ( that rocks )
Dianna Caley


So, the whole book may turn out to be fiction, but kudos to the author. He makes string theory and the competing theories come alive. He has a talent for vivid imagery that makes the theories intelligible and interesting.
Linda
The book was a good layman's representative of String theory. It is definitely something to read if you want a basic overview and understanding of String Theory and a run down of the other current theories out there.
Adina
I do not have much background in physics, so for this author to be able to shed some light to me on this topic was amazing. I did find out how much I do not know and new, interesting questions to ponder.
Jim Johnson
A lot of this was still over my head but the author was an excellent communicator. There was a lot to learn and this book did a great job of laying out the case for string "theory".
Heather
A lot went over my head but overall I got a good picture...not that I could explain it well...looking forward to more books on the subject.
Heather Hornbacher
Too much time spent on information around String Theory and not enough about String Theory. The way it was organized was not logical to me.
Jef
Finally I grok the YC space idea, but it turns out that we might not live in a compactified space afterall.
Loamarie
Not sure if I fully grasp the concepts, even after reading the idiot's guide to string theory...
Joel Weinert
Seems like a good primer. Spoiler: 3 leptons combine to form a proton.
Amy
Loved it...I found it very interesting and easy to understand.
Irina
Believe the title. Recommended ONLY for the truly idiotic.
Olof
Olof is currently reading it
Jul 03, 2014
Bryan
Bryan marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Laura Ann
Laura Ann marked it as to-read
Jun 21, 2014
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Stringed TOE: Science Or Religion? 1 5 May 03, 2010 07:48PM  
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George Musser is a contributing editor for Scientific American magazine, where he focuses on space science and fundamental physics. He is the recipient of the 2011 Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics and the 2010 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the American Astronomical Society. Musser was one of the lead editors for the magazine's single-topic i...more
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