Rating

10

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

getAbstract.com highly recommends this excellent introduction to theoretical physics, which is accessible to any determined reader, even those with no mathematical and little scientific background. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Brian Greene is scrupulous about clarity, and has a gift for metaphor that makes it possible for him to discuss even the most abstruse, esoteric physics with skill, clarity and wit. Readers will discover baffling wonders that flatly contradict ordinary quotidian experience, and will come to realize that what they perceive as real is anything but real. Moreover, they will learn that physicists seem to have a great deal more success at demonstrating what is not real than at discovering what is. The most commonplace things - the difference between yesterday and tomorrow, between here and there - continue to baffle the greatest minds in science. Now you can begin to understand why.

Summary

Appearances Are Deceiving

Reality is not what we perceive it to be. That is the fundamental lesson of the past six centuries of scientific inquiry. The second lesson seems to be that we are far from knowing what reality is. Contemporary physics challenges almost all of our ordinary assumptions and intuitions about the nature of existence. For example, consider the idea that time moves forward - that the past is behind us and the future awaits. In fact, nothing in physics supports the notion that time moves at all. Equipped with the equations of physics, you would be hard-pressed to explain why whole eggs fall from kitchen counters and break, but shattered eggs do not reconstitute themselves on the floor and fall up to the counter.

The search for a unified theory occupied Albert Einstein for the last three decades of his life. Now that superstring theory may point the way toward such a discovery, our notions of reality may get another severe shaking. String theory suggests that the universe has many more dimensions than the four of which we are aware (three-dimensional spatial reality plus time). Superstring theory needs 11 dimensions: 10 dimensions of space and one...

About the Author

Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Elegant Universe.


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