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The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  35,009 ratings  ·  1,060 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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arcticlight In my opinion it is suitable, but it's not a fast read. You have to take time to think about the concepts and to understand them. I've been reading it…moreIn my opinion it is suitable, but it's not a fast read. You have to take time to think about the concepts and to understand them. I've been reading it in small parts to handle this.(less)
Craig Wanderer I realize this is a old post, but for others I will recommend "Astrophysics for people in a Hurry" or "The Grand Design" for first time books.
While G…more
I realize this is a old post, but for others I will recommend "Astrophysics for people in a Hurry" or "The Grand Design" for first time books.
While Green tries to be entertaining, I have had a hard time focusing despite this not being even close to my first book on Cosmology.
Usually I cannot put these books down but I am struggling, I find him and Mccacu on the same level, smart as hell but despite their best efforts, not able to relate very well on paper.
(less)

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Greg
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
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
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
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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Manuel Antão
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2004
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


Going Overboard: "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene


(original review, 2004)


"Within each individual [time] slice, your thoughts and memories are sufficiently rich to yield a sense that time has continuously flowed to that moment. This feeling, this sensation that time is flowing, doesn't require previous moments—previous frames—to be "sequentially illuminated."

In "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene



I agree that this is at
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WarpDrive
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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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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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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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Joe
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
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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Jen Padgett Bohle
Dec 04, 2007 rated it liked it
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
J.M. Hushour
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Bryan Alkire
Jul 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Bad book. I was looking forward to learning about cosmos themed science, something I never learned about in school. This book was not the answer to my acquisition of knowledge. In fact, I learned almost nothing from this book. The writing is awful. It seeks to explain through dense prose, repetitive text, asinine pop references and endless in text questions. It really just shows why science writers should write books for the general public, not most scientists. Further, the author is in love wit ...more
Paul  Perry
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark Hebwood
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible journey this was. I think Brian is fantastically gifted to explain esoteric and cutting-edge cosmological concepts without the use of formulae and maths. He says himself that he will only use metaphors to explain the ideas, but even so he remains respectful of his subject, he does not dumb things down, and I found the metaphors for the most part evocative and helpful. Towards the end of the book, however, the ideas get so far removed from human intuition that I would have want ...more
Orhan Pelinkovic
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
If you're considering majoring in physics this would be a good book to read prior to making your decision. I really enjoyed the many easy to understand explanations.

Also, the book has a lot of material for the reader that even has an intermediate understanding of theoretical physics. So, it's great for a broader range of science buffs.

The book covers many of the relevant theoretic physics theories. The books gives a great chronological history of physics itself.

I've read the Serbo-Croatian tran
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Hamid
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
A very good book on the concept of space and what it's made of explained in a clear and simple yet comprehensive manner by a brilliant physicist. You also learn a little about string theory and quantum loop theory and how they strive to come up with a theory of quantum gravity. ...more
DJ
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-physics
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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Andrew
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was as very confounding book to me - not confusing but confounding. It has some amazing observations and conundrums to ponder over and I suspect I did not appreciate (or even understand all that it had to tell me).

Let me explain - some of the chapters used examples - some of which I have actually studied in my years in education. For example the example where electrons can be treated as particles while at the same time be treated as waves. Now I remember the experiments and I remember the t
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Wayne Barrett
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
“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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Mike
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: internet, audio-book
This book breaks down the fabric of the cosmos into details and what we know. Very extensive, very well written and rather easy to understand.
Larry Webber
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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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Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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.
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Josh Hedgepeth
This is by far the most comprehensive book on cosmology I've ever read. What's more, it's probably the most effective and we'll written one as well. Granted, how I responded to the book is influenced by my own science background, but I 100% recommend this to others interested in learning about the fundamental nature of reality.

I loved hearing about various forms of research that have since been confirmed experimentally (i.e. gravitational waves and the higgs boson). I also appreciated how this c
...more
Christy
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Brian Greene does a fantastic job of explaining some of the great mysteries of the universe: What is spacetime? What is relativity? What is quantum entanglement? His answers are thorough, and his straightforward drawings cleared up a lot of concepts that were murky to me before I read his book. Everything that Einstein, Bohr, and the other great physicists of the last 120 years have “discovered,” he presents with clarity. But he gets into trouble when he ventures into realms that still puzzle sc ...more
John
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Derek Davis
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Once again, as in "The Elegant Universe," Greene has done an exemplary job of presenting a "popular" explication of deep science (particle physics and cosmology) that is neither condescending nor watered down.
I've been amazed both times than anyone could pull this off, since it's been attempted so often but left the subjects either impenetrable or eviscerated.
Greene's salient attribute is clarity: He can find and present the basic contours of just about any scientific discipline in clear, disci
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Liz
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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Josh Friedlander
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Periodically I get inspired to read big science books aimed at clarifying things to laypeople without any maths. Generally, each time I get slightly further than I did the previous time before eventually losing focus and coasting to the end. This was one of those times. Greene is a competent writer (though ugh, his cheesy TV analogies were not needed), and Smart Science Guy straight out of Central Casting - a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, a happily married vegetarian and accomplished pianist. ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I wish I could say 'The Fabric of the Cosmos' is an easy read which makes clear a subject that only geniuses understand normally about what classic physics and quantum mechanics have to do with understanding the mysteries of cosmology, particularly the theories regarding what the universe is, how it began, what made it function the way it does and why there seems to be an arrow of Time. I can't. Physics is too hard for me. However, Brian Greene is a brilliant man with a teacher's magic talent of ...more
David
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mel
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Science Book Club: The Fabric of the Cosmos 3 27 Mar 31, 2018 10:31AM  
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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.

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