The Elegant Universe

Posted on December 15, 2005

I just finished a book last night that was incredible. If you are a physics geek like I am or even if you just want to know more about a theory that could possibly explain everything than The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene is for you! Greene writes in such a way that anyone can understand the gist of what he is talking about so it is great book for anyone. With that said, it is a pretty intense book and not a book I would recommend for light reading. I took quite a bit of time with the book myself since I really wanted to try and wrap my head around the concepts.

In the book Greene takes readers on a journey through the history of physics from Newton to Einstein and on to String Theory (M-theory). The background you get in the beginning of the book is a perfect primer to the more advanced string theory. Basically, string theory says that, rather than point particles, the universe is in fact made up of microscopic strings that vibrate in different manners and that the vibrations actually correspond to what we see as electrons, protons and so on. Not only that, string theory also provides for 11 dimentions and possibly parallel universes! Fascinating stuff…

Even more fascinating is the fact that string theory explains all, or most of, the physical properties (relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.) that we already observe. String theory implies that they should be there! Basically, if string theory was the first thing that was found, everything else we (and by we I mean physicists) have discovered would have been a given. String theory also gives rise to some interesting black hole explanations but I don’t want to give too much away. Well, OK, I’ll give a little bit away but you’re going to want to read the book to get the full picture.

The center of black holes actually have the same characteristics that physicists think were in place before the “big bang.” They have been able to figure this out, more or less, through string theory. The interesting conclusion that can be drawn is that the centers of black holes are actually universes or universes before the big bang. Why don’t we see them you may ask… well, the black holes event horizon shields us from seeing anything inside. The event horizon is the point of no return. No light can escape past it and out of the black hole and all matter that passes the line will be sucked in forever.

The book seriously blows the mind. It is an incredible piece by one of the people on the forefront of string theory but it is still written in a way that “regular people” (who are willing to put in the time) can understand the big concepts. I recommend giving it a read if you want to take a look at the BIG picture through a very small lens.

For more on the Elegant Universe and string theory please visit the Elegant Universe webpage. Also, you can watch the entire NOVA special hosted by Brian Geene himself and entitled the Elegant Universe online. Enjoy!

– I am going to put a piece up in my “normal” style very soon as I was inspired to write on google and yahoo through a piece written by Jason at 37 signals today. Look out for that or, better yet, if you are not already subscribed please subscribe and you’ll get my posts automagically!

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3 Comments so far
  1. I Am Donkey December 16, 2005 1:30 am

    That was fascinating. Especially the bit about the black holes.

  2. Eric December 16, 2005 2:10 am

    Glad you enjoyed the post. You should definitely check out the book!

  3. Ted Smith January 1, 2006 5:48 pm

    The Web: Fifteen years of browsing
    CHICAGO, Dec. 28 (UPI) — Fifteen years ago this Christmas week, Tim Berners-Lee, an obscure scientist working in a European laboratory, invented the Internet browser, now a fixture of the digital economy, experts tell United Press International’s The Web.

    Sir Berners-Lee today still lives a simple professor’s lifestyle, bicycling around town, as his browser was supplanted by the Mosaic browser developed by a college student, Marc Andreessen at the University of Illinois, a few years later. Andreessen’s invention led to the creation of Netscape, the Netscape Navigator and other technologies that enervated to the go-go 1990s run in investment in technology on Wall Street and the creation of millions of jobs and hundreds of Internet companies here and abroad, including now household-names and By Gene Koprowski