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The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality Paperback – Feb 8 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (Feb. 8 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727207
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

String theory is a recent development in physics that, by positing that all which exists is composed of infinitesimally small vibrating loops of energy, seeks to unify Einstein's theories and those of quantum mechanics into a so-called "theory of everything." In 1999, Greene, one of the world's leading physicists, published The Elegant Universe (Norton), a popular presentation of string theory that became a major bestseller and, last fall, a highly rated PBS/Nova series. The strength of the book resided in Greene's unparalleled (among contemporary science writers) ability to translate higher mathematics (the language of physics) and its findings into everyday language and images, through adept use of metaphor and analogy, and crisp, witty prose. The same virtues adhere to this new book, which offers a lively view of human understanding of space and time, an understanding of which string theory is an as-yet unproven advance. To do this, Greene takes a roughly chronological approach, beginning with Newton, moving through Einstein and quantum physics, and on to string theory and its hypotheses (that there are 11 dimensions, ten of space and one of time; that there may be an abundance of parallel universes; that time travel may be possible, and so on) and imminent experiments that may test some of its tenets. None of this is easy reading, mostly because the concepts are tough to grasp and Greene never seems to compromise on accuracy. Eighty-five line drawings ease the task, however, as does Greene's felicitous narration; most importantly, though, Greene not only makes concepts clear but explains why they matter. He opens the book with a discussion of Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus, setting a humanistic tone that he sustains throughout. This is popular science writing of the highest order, with copious endnotes that, unlike the text, include some math.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Forbidding formulas no longer stand between general readers and the latest breakthroughs in astrophysics: the imaginative gifts of one of the pioneers making those breakthroughs have now translated mathematical science into accessible analogies drawn from everyday life and popular culture. Using images as simple as that of Homer Simpson riding a skateboard and an ordinary earthworm crawling along a tightrope, Greene draws readers deep into revolutionary new conceptions of space and time. These conceptions transform the everyday world of 3-dimensional sense perception into the illusory surface of an 11-dimensional reality. Hidden from human view, tightly coiled loops of multidimensional string link radiant stars to mysterious black matter in a galactic space-time tapestry of sublime symmetry. Though Greene deepens his inquiries with occasional ventures into scholarly complexities (thoughtfully warning timid readers, who can skip the abstruse sections), disarmingly simple principles finally penetrate the very frontiers of cosmological research, where the random chaos of quantum mechanics begins to fit within the lucid harmonies of relativity and where the strangely one-directional arrow of time starts to yield the secrets of its flight. Nonspecialists will relish this exhilarating foray into the alien terrain that is our own universe. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By James Tepper on July 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is amazing. Apparently a number of folks agree with me given the 4.5 star average it has gotten from the preceding 60 reviews. There were some pans, however. In contradistinction to what some of the naysayers (and some of the kuods too) have written , this is most certainly *not* a rehash of the "Elegant Universe", which I also read and liked a lot. This is something totally different. This is not about string theory or quantum mechanics or relativity or the nature of time - but it does contain discussion of all of those. This book is about nothing less than cosmology, the structure of the universe, just exactly as the title indicates.
I have read a number of lay (read - not for physicists but not for your average college drop-out either) physics books over the years, mostly having to do with quantum mechainics and the nature of physical reality or relavity. Prior to "Fabric", I think my favorite was John Gribbin's "In Search of Schroedinger's Cat". I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the essentials of quantum mechanics for a layman, and learned relatively little that was really new from most of the others. But I found a lot of new material in"Fabric". The way the quantum measurement problem was dealt with or resolted was great - new to me. The discussion of entanglement, and why everything is in fact *not* connected to everything else was also new to me, and well done. There is a ton of new physics from the late 1990s that is reviewed here. This book contains everything a newcomer to quantum mechanics needs, but also has tons to offer folks who have read on this subject before. And that alone is is quite an accomplishment,. more than worth the price of admission.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 16 2006
Format: Paperback
This thought-provoking book has a wider perspective than Greene's Elegant Universe, in which he expounded on String Theory. Fabric Of The Cosmos discusses the latest findings in theoretical physics in a style accessible to the ordinary reader.

The book contains a short summary of string theory. In brief, this theory proposes that particles like quarks, electrons et al. are not dots but minute filaments of vibrating energy that produce various particle properties. Superstring Theory reconciles general relativity with quantum mechanics in a single theory, making it a strong candidate for Einstein's elusive Unified Theory.

The author explores the two most prominent concerns of modern physics: The historical development from Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Hawking, and the very latest theories that arose from this development.

Chapter 12 is basically a summary of The Elegant Universe, whilst the following two chapters explore the possibilities of experimentally testing the string theory.

A very important component of he book is the irreconcilable gap between the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. General relativity only hold valid for large objects, whilst quantum mechanics explains the subatomic composition of matter/energy. Since the two are incompatible, Greene maintains that a theory of quantum gravity must be developed, one that holds true for both small and large objects.

In the chapters Time And The Quantum and Entangling Space, the author looks at quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena of entanglement. He rejects Niels Bohr's dualistic interpretation of the world of facts and the world of probabilities, postulating a hidden reality composed of 9 spatial dimensions and 1 of time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DCCHEF on July 6 2004
Format: Hardcover
I certainly recommend this book to any layperson that enjoys reading accounts of both the history of physics and the state of progress in modern physics. Greene is an excellent writer and he discusses and teaches often difficult concepts in an accessible way. On reflection, my only criticism of the book is really an issue with the subject of string theory, rather than with Greene's descriptions.
For me, the book breaks down into two parts. The first 2/3 is an account of historical developments in physics using an excellent organizing scheme. Greene sets out two key questions. First, are space and time fundamental or do they simply arise as descriptions of relations among other fundamental entities? Second, how do we account for the unidirectional flow of time ("the arrow of time") which we experience? With these questions in mind, Greene reviews classical physics, Einstein's relativity, quantum mechanics, and recent cosmological theories.
The best part of this first section of the book for me was the review of the inflationary hypothesis. After describing the second law of thermodynamics (the only part of traditional science which has an explicit arrow of time), Greene examines theories of the history of our universe for a possible explanation of both the flow of time we experience as well as the geometry of observed space. I understood the attraction of the inflationary scenario much better after reading the book.
The second part of the book is a discussion of progress in string theory/M theory and the attempt to reconcile relativity and quantum mechanics in a unified framework.
String theory's major exciting starting point was its promise to explain all of the fundamental particles and forces (including gravity) in a framework of one-dimensional units called strings.
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