Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review (#25 of 2013) The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

I have long wanted to read Brian Greene's books, and enjoyed seeing his Nova episodes on time and space. Physics tells us that "every moment in time already exists," which is a concept that will blow your mind and make you a five-point Calvinist. At least until you read about string theory and how it counters determinism, if you can understand exactly how that is. That's what The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory is all about.

Greene has a talent for taking something that is purely theoretical and mathematical--the exploration of the universe--and making it somewhat intelligible for the reader with imperfect analogies and stories. He explains his own contributions to the world of physics and is quick to give credit to a host of colleagues.

You will learn a lot about the history of 20th century physics in this book, especially quantum mechanics. I listened to the audio version, and am glad as it's one of those books that can get really dry, despite Greene's best efforts to come up with imperfect analogies. I found the book harder to follow as it went on as it delved into the discoveries, re-discoveries, and debates of M-theory over the last 25 years. Where the conflict arises between higher mathematics and higher physics. The devil is in the details. Are there 11 dimensions and how does that work? Is it science, philosophy, both?

You will learn a great deal from this book. The fact that Greene is an expert in a highly complex field makes it hard to know whether his thoughts are accurate or not. What sorts of physicists disagree with him? Hard to know.

I give it 4 stars out of 5. It expands your universe, check it out. 

No comments: