The Fabric of the Cosmos (Penguin Press Science)
From Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists, 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? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past?
Greene uses these questions to guide us toward modern science’s new and deeper understanding of the universe. From Newton’s unchanging realm in which space and time are absolute, to Einstein’s fluid conception of spacetime, to quantum mechanics’ entangled arena where vastly distant objects can bridge their spatial separation to instantaneously coordinate their behavior or even undergo teleportation, Greene reveals our world to be very different from what common experience leads us to believe. Focusing on the enigma of time, Greene establishes that nothing in the laws of physics insists that it run in any particular direction and that “time’s arrow” is a relic of the universe’s condition at the moment of the big bang. And in explaining the big bang itself, Greene shows how recent cutting-edge developments in superstring and M-theory may reconcile the behavior of everything from the smallest particle to the largest black hole. This startling vision culminates in a vibrant eleven-dimensional “multiverse,” pulsating with ever-changing textures, where space and time themselves may dissolve into subtler, more fundamental entities.
Sparked by the trademark wit, humor, and brilliant use of analogy that have made The Elegant Universe a modern classic, Brian Greene takes us all, regardless of our scientific backgrounds, on an irresistible and revelatory journey to the new layers of reality that modern physics has discovered lying just beneath the surface of our everyday world.
With 146 illustrations
Jacket photograph by DB Image/Brand X Pictures –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author(s)
Brian Greene received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He joined the physics faculty of Cornell University in 1990, was appointed to a full professorship in 1995, and in 1996 joined Columbia University where he is professor of physics and mathematics. He has lectured at both a general and a technical level in more than twenty-five countries and is widely regarded for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory. He lives in Andes, New York, and New York City.
Time–Absolutely relative or relatively absolute?, April 7, 2004
No one could read the first chapter and not finish this book! I savored every page of it from start to finish. Brian Greene has a unique combination of talent that you JUST DON’T SEE in such an outstanding scientific mind. 1) He can write! 2) He is clearly one of the top physicists in the field of Superstring/M-Theory. 3) He is a born teacher. 4) Did I mention he can write? Through brilliant use of analogy, Greene makes the most mind boggling concepts easy to grasp. This is a book for lay people, as evidenced by the absence of equations in the text…they are included in the notes section at the end along with more robust theoretical details. The book takes you through the usual history of quantum physics and cosmology, as it must do to provide the background necessary to understand where we are now. He moves from the earlier understandings to the most current developments in a manner that makes very difficult subjects accessible to everyday people. The question of why the arrow of times moves relentlessly forward is answered in this book, and that is no mean accomplishment. In fact, the infusion of knowledge is so gentle that after 500 pages I was amazed at how much was covered and even more amazed that I understood it. The subject matter itself is fascinating. Greene’s writing ability makes it enjoyable at the same time. His injection of humor put the icing on the cake. A small example: "…Ordinary experience confronts us with two types of phenomena: those that have a clearly delineated beginning, middle, and end…and those that are cyclic, happening over and over again (the changing seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, Larry King’s weddings)." Now some might find his highly imaginative analogies can get a bit corny, but I saw them as brilliant–and they do the job of illuminating complex ideas. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough to those who want to learn! One last thing…you can read the whole book without consulting the notes at the end. This is great for continuity and readability. Just don’t fail to read the "Notes" section when you finish. It serves as a brief refresher to cement the new ideas into your head, and expands on the more complicated concepts. Whatever happened to the 10-star ratings? 5 stars are not enough!