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

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  69,124 Ratings  ·  1,552 Reviews
A fascinating and thought-provoking journey through the mysteries of space, time, and matter.

With a new preface (not in any other edition) that will review the enormous public reception of the relatively obscure string theory—made possible by this book and an increased number of adherents amongst physicists—The Elegant Universe "sets a standard that will be hard to beat" (

Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 20th 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1999)
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☙ percy ❧ i am a science geek in the sense i love reading about it, but i haven't studied science or maths past the age of 16 and have little-to-no real…morei am a science geek in the sense i love reading about it, but i haven't studied science or maths past the age of 16 and have little-to-no real knowledge of mathematics or intricate physics theories. nevertheless, i didn't think that hindered my enjoyment of this book! granted, i had read some popular science books on quantum physics before, but still; i don't think you need any academic background in the subject to understand it (honestly i am Atrocious at maths). i'd go for it if i were you! :) (less)

Community Reviews

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Dec 16, 2008 Manny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
[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
Mar 17, 2011 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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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
Apr 12, 2007 Alisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
يونس 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
Riku Sayuj
Aug 29, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
To think I put all that effort to understand a discredited theory...
Apr 30, 2008 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 03, 2010 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 06, 2014 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jack Thornsberry
Jun 13, 2008 Jack Thornsberry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2007 ayden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana  Vlădescu
Physics books. Can I understand them properly? No. Am I still absolutely fascinated by them? Yes. String Theory. Do I understand it properly? Hell no. Am I fascinated by it? To the last detail.
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
 مولاي أرشيد أحمدو
كتاب ممتع إلى أقصى الحدود
لا يتطلب منك معرفة عميقة بالفيزياء
بل فقط يكفي الشغف حول معرفة هذا الكون الأنيق
Joao Vaz
Jul 03, 2014 Joao Vaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 18, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Silvia Sirea
Mar 06, 2016 Silvia Sirea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho sempre provato una forte curiosità nei confronti dell'universo. Sin da piccola, mi ponevo le più disparate domande sul mondo che ci circonda, sulle stelle, sui pianeti e sullo spazio infinito e mi divertivo ad immaginare le teorie più strampalate riguardo le leggi che governano l'universo. Purtroppo, nonostante questo, non ho una mente particolarmente adatta allo studio delle materie scientifiche e quindi non sono diventata, ahimè, una scienziata, ma almeno ora so cosa voglio fare nella mia p ...more
Jul 19, 2016 Zaid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Brian Greene had put all his efforts to write this book as much simple as he can and he succeeded to do so.The way he describes the technical terms in this book with such a great simplicity is really very appreciating.Several examples are also taken into account to profoundly explain some of the subtle concepts in this book.It takes us back to Relativity and then to Quantum Mechanics before proceeding to String Theory.It is hard to tell whether I believe in String Theory or not. There are ample ...more
Genia Lukin
Nov 25, 2011 Genia Lukin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Dec 16, 2013 Walaa marked it as to-read-first  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf, science
رابط التحميل :
Mohamed al-Jamri
This is the first book by Brian Greene that I read. The first chapters were amazing and engaging, however later chapters about string theory were very hard for me to understand and I actually didn't finish the whole book, because I could not understand what I was reading.

The author uses many metaphors to make his ideas simpler. He starts with a very easy to understand telling of history of scientific discoveries reaching to the theory of general relativity and quantum physics and the unification
Majo's Library.
Readers who have not discovered Greene should no waste one minute more!
Feb 18, 2014 Marius rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 30, 2009 Wolf rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2013 Ammar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
كتاب رائع يحكي قصة الفيزياء الحديثة والحلم الكبير لانشتاين و كدا نظرية كل شيء او ما اسبح يعرف بنظرية ام و هي نظرية الاوتار لا يجب ان تكون قيزيائيا لتقرأ هدا الكتاب و تتدوق حلاوة النظر الى اقصى حدود الادراك البشري .... متعة كبيرة لا تفوتوها ... على فكرة هناك سلسلة من 3 حلقات بنعس العنوان " الكون الانيق" يمكن التفرج عليها لمن اراد حوصلة من لاغير كثير تدقيق
Omar Abdelaziz
Jan 04, 2014 Omar Abdelaziz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

او اتفرج على السلسله اتعملت 2003
الجزء الاول

الجزء التانى

الجزء التالت
Y. L
Mar 25, 2014 Y. L rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit this has been a book I have had a love-hate relationship with for a good few months. I may have had it a lot easier than others as the friend who graciously loaned me this book had preempted me with a few documentary videos of Stephen Hawking and BBC as an introduction to the subject. Nevertheless, the universe is (as always) a long and lengthy subject to grasp and claiming that reading this book was a breeze would do the universe no justice.

Thanks to three hours or so of videos,
Dec 11, 2012 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Hyperspace
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
  • Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
  • 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?
  • The Nature of Space and Time
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
  • Antimatter
  • Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed
  • The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number
  • Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
  • The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report
  • Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
  • Collider: The Search for the World's Smallest Particles
  • Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time
  • Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
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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“The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.” 77 likes
“...things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren't, we wouldn't be here to notice.” 23 likes
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