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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  ·  46,546 ratings  ·  1,222 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
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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
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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
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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
Riku Sayuj
To think I put all that effort to understand a discredited theory...
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
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
يونس بن عمارة
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
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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
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
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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
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Elyse
My local book club picked this book for our non-fiction month. I've been a part of this group- the largest-best Bay Area Book club!!!!

In the 5 years I been part of this group, I can't remember a more challenging book to fully understand. The superstring theory is 'taught' by Brian Green' for those of us with maybe a basic Physics level one course. I can't imagine understanding anything, without having had at least some High School or College physics. This book is not for everyone, yet it's Top N
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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
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
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Joao Vaz
Dear God,

Will you ever allow us folks down here on Earth to come up with Einstein’s dream of a Theory of Everything (ToE)? The fact of the matter is that there are essentially two opposing theories upon which rests our knowledge of the universe: General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. That is, the world of the large and the world of the miniscule. But whenever we try to unify them, our calculations just fall short; or better, fall large!, for we bump into infinity.

Oh wait!, this book has jus
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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
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 مولاي أرشيد أحمدو
كتاب ممتع إلى أقصى الحدود
لا يتطلب منك معرفة عميقة بالفيزياء
بل فقط يكفي الشغف حول معرفة هذا الكون الأنيق
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
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María
Readers who have not discovered Greene should no waste one minute more!
Walaa
May 29, 2014 Walaa marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf, science
رابط التحميل : http://adf.ly/Yd6Sn
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
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
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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
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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
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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
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Jason
I was given this book as a gift. I typically don't go for the sort of fluffy stuff you'd find in the "Science" section at Barnes & Noble, which I figured this would be. I'm much more into mathematics than physics and have devoted most of my academic career to math shit rather than physics shit. So I was already prepared to lose my footing at some point in this book. I have a pretty good grasp on Special Relativity though so I tried to use that as a gauge for how well this dude was describin ...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
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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
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Mely Sibbald Bissonette
Will I make it through this? Bets?
Arun Divakar
There is a set of reinforced steel doors that resist even the most determined effort to open them. An acetylene torch is tried on them, then explosives and all the other known permutations of unlawful opening but the doors remain firmly shut. The culprit finally even resorts to shouting Open Sesame to which the door smugly replies Your username and password combination is incorrect.

This door is called Physics and the culprit as you might have guessed was me. Yet another fruitless attempt to unde
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« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
  • The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
  • Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
  • Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
  • The Universe in a Nutshell
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
  • Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature
  • Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe
  • The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications
  • Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
  • The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
  • The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?
  • Relativity: The Special and the General Theory
  • In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality
  • Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
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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.” 46 likes
“...quantum mechanics—the physics of our world—requires that you hold such pedestrian complaints in abeyance.” 13 likes
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