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The Elegant Universe
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An astonishing book which combines great scientific insight and elegant writing to unravel the greatest mysteries of one of our most complex scientific concepts- string theory

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Brian Greene is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University and Cornell University.

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Scientific advances, the domains of researchers and subject specialists, for the most part elude the general public. Greene illuminates here superstring theory, one of the most exciting developments of modern physics. The twin pillars of modern physics‘quantum mechanics and relativity‘appear to be at odds with each other. Uniting these two divergent theories has been the holy grail of physicists for more than 50 years. Many researchers see string theory as the grand unification theory they have been seeking. They believe these tiny vibrating strings, a billionth of a billionth the size of an atom, are the fundamental building blocks of nature. Greene (mathematics and physics, Columbia and Cornell universities) should be commended for his lucid account of this development. Excellent notes as well as a glossary and list of further reading are included. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/98.]‘James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ., Chicago

"Develops one fresh new insight after another... In the great tradition of physicists writing for the masses, The Elegant Universe sets a standard that will be hard to beat" * New York Times Book Review *
"Utterly absorbing...a brilliant achievement. An accessible, equationless account of strings, explaining why they are generating so much excitement among their devotees. Greene's achievement is to make us feel at home in the chillingly abstract world of strings and to convince us that we must take it seriously" * Sunday Telegraph *
"As rewarding as it gets... A thrilling ride through a lovely landscape... A compelling human saga" * Los Angeles Times Book Review *
"Compulsively readable...Green threatens to do for string theory what Stephen Hawking did for holes" * New York *
"[A] tour-de-force of science writing...peels away layers of detail and reveals the stunning essence of cutting-edge physics" -- Shing-Tung Yau, Harvard University; Fields Medalist, winner of the National Medal of Science

One of the more compelling scientific (cum-theological) questions in the Middle Ages was: "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" Today's version in cutting-edge science is, "How many strings... ?" As posited by s tring theory physics, strings are furiously vibrating loops of stuff. The concept of strings was devised to help scientists describe simultaneously both energy and matter. The frequency and resonance of strings' vibration, just like those of strings on an instrument, determine charge, spin and other familiar properties of energy‘and eventually the structure of the universe: a true music of the spheres. There's a chance that strings are themselves made up of something still smaller. But scientists can prove their existence only on the blackboard and computer, because they are much too tiny‘a hundred billion billion times smaller than the nucleus of an atom‘to be observed experimentally. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Cornell and Columbia universities, makes the terribly complex theory of strings accessible to all. He possesses a remarkable gift for using the everyday to illustrate what may be going on in dimensions beyond our feeble human perception. Just when we might be tempted to dismiss strings as grist for the publish-or-perish mill, Greene explains how they have demonstrated connections between mathematics and physics that have helped solve age-old conundrums in each field. This book will appeal to astronomy as well as math and physics fans because it probes the important insights string theory gives into hotly debated issues in cosmology. Later chapters require careful attention to Greene's explications, but the effort will prepare readers to follow the scientific advances likely to be made in the next millennium through application of string theory. Author tour. (Feb.)

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