The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality (Penguin Press Science)

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9780141011110: The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality (Penguin Press Science)
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From the bestselling author of The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos takes us on an irresistible and revelatory journey through the biggest of the big questions.

What is reality? Could we exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? What are the limits of the universe?

Brian Greene has made the mysteries of space and time accessible to millions with his acclaimed writings and award-winning TV series. Now he reveals a world more beautiful and bizarre than we could have imagined, where 'dark matter' reigns, space warps and wiggles through eleven dimensions, minute particles dance, fizz and teleport across vast distances, everything is made of vibrating strings and, like an ant on a lily-pad, we may be floating on a sliver of spacetime.

Revealing new layers of reality that lie just beneath the surface of our everyday lives, this grand tour of the universe will make you look at the world in a completely new way.

'A must-read'
  Sunday Times

'Greene takes us to the limits of space and time'
  Guardian

'Sends the reader's imagination hurtling through the universe on an astonishing ride'
  The New York Times

Brian Greene is well known to many fans as a populariser of theoretical physics. He is the author of the bestselling books about string theory, The Elegant Universe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he has taught at both Harvard and Cornell and has been Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University since 1996.

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Review:

Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos with its questions about the limits of space and time and the texture of reality certainly looks a bit daunting to the uninitiated. Cosmic ripples, 11 dimensions to the universe and string theory that is somehow connected to a "Theory of Everything" are all a bit alien if you never really got to grips with Newton, let alone Einstein. It might look very heavyweight, but Greene is an excellent communicator and what he's writing about is perhaps the greatest intellectual challenge we face.

There is no doubt that speculation about the nature of the heavens is very ancient. After centuries of thought "we still can only portray space and time as the most familiar of strangers". But enormous advances in understanding have been made especially over the last few decades. Whether we are high-flying city slickers or impoverished cattle-herders in the third world, speculation about space-time "takes on an almost mystical quality: we're considering the fate of the very things that dominate our sense of reality" according to Greene.

Over the last century we have become much better acquainted with previously hidden features of the Universe, especially thanks to Einstein. Greene summarises these as

"the slowing of time, the relativity of simultaneity, alternative slicings of spacetime, gravity as the warpings and curving of space and time, the probabilistic nature of reality, and long range entanglement were not on the list of things that even the best of the world's nineteenth-century physicists would have expected to find just around the corner."
And yet they are attested to by both experimental results and theoretical explanations. Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, is one of the foremost players in contemporary string theory and authored a bestselling book The Elegant Universe for which he won the Aventis Prize in 2000.

In The Fabric of the Cosmos Green avoids mathematical formulae, which can be an immediate turnoff for most general readers. Clearly he knows that visually we can deal with abstract and/or difficult concepts much better than when they are presented in words. Consequently, he uses a very clever selection of excellent and well designed illustrations to help get his ideas across. There is an excellent index, plenty of notes and suggestions for further reading, which will allow those more in the know to take matters further. And, there is a glossary for us ordinary mortals who need every now and again to check up on our understanding of things such as quarks, Higgs particles, braneworld scenario and M-theory. --Douglas Palmer

Review:

'An astonishing ride. As a popularizer of exquisitely abstract science, he is both a skilled and kindly explicator' -- the New York Times

'I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It manages to be both challenging and entertaining: it is highly recommended' -- the Independent

'The Fabric of the Cosmos is a magnificent challenge to conventional ideas' -- Financial Times

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