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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  37,392 ratings  ·  1,149 reviews
"[Greene] 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." --George Johnson, The New York Times Book Review

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 theori...more
Paperback, 425 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Vintage Books (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Manny
[Original review, written December 2008]

When I read this book, I remember thinking it was pretty interesting, but I am surprised how few insights I have retained... to be honest, hardly any. Smolin's The Trouble with Physics, which I read much more recently, suggests that string theory is in big trouble, and right now I am more tempted to side with Smolin.

There's this old Nasrudin story, where he's somehow ended up as judge in a court case. The D.A. really makes a good case, and Nasrudin can't r...more
Marvin
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Do I understand string theory? Not sure.

Do I understand M theory? A little bit but don't ask for any algebraic reasoning.

Do I know exactly what a Calabi-Yau is? Not really but I think they look a little like the hair balls from my cat.

This is the second time I've equated quantum physics and all its detours to a hair-ball. That's because I can study a hair ball and still have no idea what it is for and why they exist. String Theory and the elusive TOE is in the same category. I could go on my en...more
Alisha
I left Christianity a few years ago and swore off religion altogether; however, after reading this book, string theory has become tantamount to religion in my life. Brian Greene writes beautifully about particles, planets, and the origins of our universe as we know it today. It is a heavy book- I don't recommend it for anyone who wants a quick, easy read. It took me almost two months to get through, but I learned a tremendous amount and came away in complete awe of the world and the forces at wo...more
Szplug
Greene's eminently readable attempt to explain the possibilities for string/superstrings to provide the linchpin for the long-awaited-and-desired merger of gravity with the two nuclear and electromagnetic forces into a Grand United Theory. Frankly, the entire idea of rolled up dimensions—of a universe containing perhaps ten, twelve, eighteen dimensions, of which we are only capable of perceiving four—is suitably mind-blowing and humbling at the same time; and although Greene's low-culture themed...more
Riku Sayuj
To think I put all that effort to understand a discredited theory...
Jack Thornsberry
This book blew my mind countless times as I read through it, so much so that I could usually only read 10-20 pages in one sitting. I had physics in high school, watched Cosmos and tons of other programs on the universe/relativity/quantum physics etc. so I have always had an interest but not enough to have that be my profession - nor am I smart enough in that way. Books like this let you visit that world for a while and this author does a fantastic job explaining general and advanced physics, Ein...more
Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. There is a great quote to the effect that "if you can't explain a subject in non-technical terms so that a lay person can understand it than you haven't really mastered the subject yourself." On that basis, it is clear that Brian Greene has DEFINITELY mastered the subject of general relatively, quantum dynanmics and string theory (at least to the extent present technology allows). For such a complicated and often "non intuitive" subject, Greene does an excellent job of laying o...more
Robin Wasserkaise
Mar 17, 2007 Robin Wasserkaise rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people who appreciate the Universe

This book presents the latest breakdown of empirical existance with string theory- it's really well written and it sugguest how the fundimentals of all existing things come together in a very similar way as our understanding of music (little vibrations). I love this subject because, where the goal of civilization is to appreciate life in some form of organized chaos, some well spoken theorists have the ability to put things into perspective in such a way that the world seems to teem with possibi...more
Rob
May 05, 2009 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars Recommends it for: mere mortals (but only the first third of it)
Recommended to Rob by: io9
AN INTRODUCTION BY WAY OF HYPERBOLIC SENTIMENT: The Elegant Universe is "The Bible" of superstring theory[*:].

I close the covers of The Elegant Universe with powerfully mixed feelings. On the one hand, Brian Greene gives us a lucidly-written layman's-terms explanation for high-concept modern physics, providing an excellent survey of 20th century science and painting a vivid picture of a promising strategy for reconciling the discrepancies in the otherwise dominant theories. On the other hand, ab...more
Younes
لنقل ان الفيزياء تنقسم الى نظريات .
فيزياء كلاسيكة ، فيزياء حديثة .
الفيزياء الكلاسيكة تفسر الكون على اساس معادلات نيوتن وهي صادقة لحد كبير في التنبوءات ومازالت تستعمل وتدرس في المدارس لحد الآن.
الحديثة تنقسم الى عدة اقسام : نظرية النسبية العامة والخاصة . نظرية الكم ، نظرية الاوتار الفائقة التي ادعت انها جمعت كل النظريات السابقة ..هناك ايضا سيناريوهات اخرى منها نظرية –ام و عدة اقتراحات اخرى تسمى بنظريات كل شيء ..
ان رأيت ان الامر صعب –كما ظهر لي من قبل – فاقرا كتاب (الكون الانيق ) لبرايان غرين ويكفي...more
ayden
I read this book while taking a course (for non-physics students) called Modern Physics in Perspective, which centered on string theory. I learned so, so, so much in this class & the book helped a lot. If you're reading this book unassisted, be aware that there are some very confusing sections that you'll need to read a few times. Sometimes his analogies are a bit too inane. Also, I've discovered that many physicists have an unhealthy obsession with their research pet projects- I'd advise th...more
Genia Lukin
I never really got the hang of String Theory. I find it awfully weird and almost nigh-unscientific. Not being a physicist, I try not to make judgments about it, since I clearly don't understand it one bit - at least on the math level! - but I have to say that Brian Greene didn't endear it to me.

I also fervently found myself wishing for the Nth time that science books were not so firmly divided between "professional, terrifying math texts" and "written for people who never figured out the Theory...more
Marius
Disclaimer: I am not a physicist. I have a MSc in environmental sciences which is 20 years out of date.

Brian Greene describes elegantly special and general relativity as well as important aspects of quantum physics in the first third of his book. It is worth its money for these first few chapters.

Unfortunately, his writing about the five string theories and their meta-theory called M-theory is almost unreadable and loses its focus very rapidly. Brian Greene seems to be so intimately and uncondit...more
April Khaito
Let me start by saying I'm no physicist and I don't claim to fully understand all of the nuances underlying string theory. From what I've learned, I find it hard to believe and, in many instances, too coincidental for my liking. Despite this reaction, I found "The Elegant Universe" wholly and utterly fascinating. It's rare that you come away from a book with a changed perception, a broadened view, and a host of core-shaking questions. The physics was engrossing, but more than that, Greene does w...more
Jenny
The first few chapters are fascinating as Greene recounts the history of modern physics, its departure from classical, Newtonian understanding. Then, he moves into string theory, and I found the arguments and explanations harder to follow. As Greene wrote the book just a few years after the Second Superstring Revolution, it makes sense that the arguments aren't as well-developed as those describing theories and experiments perfected and refined over the past 100 years or so. I really enjoyed the...more
 مولاي أرشيد أحمدو
كتاب ممتع إلى أقصى الحدود
لا يتطلب منك معرفة عميقة بالفيزياء
بل فقط يكفي الشغف حول معرفة هذا الكون الأنيق
María
Readers who have not discovered Greene should no waste one minute more!
Eng
Dec 16, 2013 Eng marked it as to-consider  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf, science
رابط التحميل : http://adf.ly/Yd6Sn
Mark Laflamme
For me, "The Elegant Universe" is the book that started it all. Greene has such a smooth way of easing the novice into the complexities of string theory, the reader feels almost acquainted by the time the science is introduced. Never boring or tedious, Greene deftly guides us through the basics of relativity, explains the importance of frames of reference, and eases us into the almost magical world of gravity and timespace.
Like Einstein, Greene presents the science through simple visuals - balls...more
BetseaK
Though the first third of this book was amusing and accessible in a childish way, the book as a whole left me with a feeling that my brain is as tiny and crumpled up as a Calabi-Yau space, whichever shape it implies! :(

My opinion of this book is similar but not equal to Rob's (though I liked his review), because I didn't think the first third of the book gave me a fairly good understanding of the Einstein's relativity concepts at all. For instance, the rubber membrane - bowling ball analogy was...more
George
I was tired of reading nothing but literature, my main squeeze, and having only vague notions about scientific concepts whose names are often thrown around in public discourse. And so I've resolved to throw in a non-fiction book into my reading now and then, and, physics representing one of the larger gaps in my knowledge, I chose to read The Elegant Universe.

How glad I am to have read it. As it turns out, my idea of string theory was erroneous, as was my rudimentary grasp of Einstein's theory...more
Wolf
Dr. Greene, unfortunately, imagines himself to be a much better writer and expositor than he actually is. Far too much time is wasted on silly examples to explain his points; so much that the analogies not only break down but become absurd. These concepts are not very difficult. Dr. Greene fairly well crosses the line into talking down instead of explaining things.

However, this book has some rather well laid out charts and diagrams and other visual aids. Importantly these come with a gracious de...more
Rama
An Introduction to SuperstringTheory/M Theory

This book offers an enjoyable ride through a lovely landscape of Superstring theory/M theory. The author is an active researcher and a popular writer in this field who is also known for his presentation on PBS's NOVA about quantum cosmology. Since the postulation of special theory of relativity, Einstein and subsequent physicists have struggled to explain the four natural forces of the most basic components of matter; the electromagnetic force; the st...more
Leslie D. Soule
While reading this book, a guy asked me what the "densest" book was that I'd ever read. I answered that it was this one. Although this book is extremely enlightening, and has given me a far better understanding of the concepts of theoretical physics, it is indeed dense and it took me a long time to read through it, making slow progress as I tried to absorb and wrap my head around the ideas contained within.
I'd happened to find this book on sale at Barnes & Noble for $5 and I've never endu...more
Mely Sibbald Bissonette
Will I make it through this? Bets?
ΑνναΦ
E' un Universo liquido

E' un Universo difficile, lavoro duro e destino incerto.
Dopo Zygmut Baumann, ci voleva anche la fisica quantistica a toglierci ogni certezza, immersi in un cosmo che funziona come un mantice, si gonfia e si sgonfia (forse), e noi in mezzo, a vivere chissà, forse più vite, su più dimensioni, arrotolate come bigodini o srotolate come tappeti.
Richard Feynman, guru della meccanica quantistica, disse “penso di poter affermare con sicurezza che nessuno capisce la meccanica quanti...more
Anthony Berger
Greene took an almost ungraspable concept and delivered it to the lay person with relative panache. Giving practical, macroscopic examples of relativity and spacetime; breaking down the concepts within quantum theory; taking the various forms of string theory and mentioning the compilation of those theories to M-theory, makes Greene gifted.



Unfortunately, there are digressions and obvious gaps that most readers are trying to come to terms with, which Greene doesn't even mention. Oftentimes, many...more
Matt
The first section of the book boasts an outstanding, lucid introduction to the underlying "pillars" of Modern Physics: Classical Mechanics, Special & General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics. These chapters involve a great number of thoughtful, clever analogies. If this is your maiden venture into popular physics literature (as it was mine), the first 135 pages or so are really worthy of sufficiently focused study. My whole worldview has been changed as a result!

The remainder of the text de...more
Michael Johnston
For those interested in "simply" understanding our universe this book offers an interesting tour of modern physics included a review of relativity, quantum mechanics and the search for TOE (the Theory Of Everything). However it is not for the faint of heart or those with limited imaginations. Here is what I love about physics - at some point the field left the realm of perceptibly plausible human reality and entered the realm of imaginative fantasy. How can light and matter be both wave and part...more
Lon
Awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, paradigm-shattering, head-scratching. Like other theoretical physics writers for the general public, Greene assiduously (and mercifully) leaves out any whiff of the formulas and calculations underpinning the theories; still, tracking the explanations can be breathtakingly difficult, and I confess to being unpleasantly lost more often than I'd care to admit. Greene's gift is his ability to find the right metaphor, or the right thought experiment, to elucidate the sub...more
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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 Fabric of the Cosmos (Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality) 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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“The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.” 37 likes
“...quantum mechanics—the physics of our world—requires that you hold such pedestrian complaints in abeyance.” 13 likes
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