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am 11. Juli 2000
Brian Greene believes in superstrings. He really, really, believes in them. He also seems to believe some of the more far-flung implications of the theory. These positions are intellectually defensible, but they are by no means certain. Yet despite some perfunctory disclaimers, Greene presents his conclusions as facts, or as almost-facts-that-will-be-nailed-down-soon. This, plus the density of the text, means that anyone interested in superstrings might want to start with a simpler, less partisan explanation of where the science has come from and where it is going, and then read this book to get more mathematical details.
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am 24. Mai 2004
Ich habe "The Elegant Universe" in den vergangenen Tagen gelesen, bin selbst Stringtheoretikerin und habe mich unwahrscheinlich über die anschauliche Tiefe von Greenes Beschreibungen gefreut.
Für interessierte Leser - unbedingt auch Laien - möchte ich hier kurz erwähnen, dass Greene in diesem Buch die Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik noch einmal aufrollt, sowie die der speziellen und allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie. Dabei erläutert er die Gedanken anschaulich, benutzt intelligente Graphiken und fasst die Grundgedanken in überschaubare Kapitel und auch ausserphysikalische anschauliche Beispiele zusammen.
Weiter schreitet er dann fort zu dem Konzept der Symmetrien in der Physik, der Supersymmetrie, String-Theorie und Superstring-Theorie, beschreibt die Hoffnung der übergreifenden M-Theorie und der Supergravitation, wieder alles formellos und in Graphiken veranschaulicht. Schließlich beendet er das Buch noch mit einem Kapitel zur sogenannten "String-Kosmologie", einem der jüngsten Tochterbereiche der Stringtheorie.
Neben exakten und dennoch stets formelfreien Erklärungen, erzählt Greene auch aus seinem Alltag, aus der Geschichte der Superstringrevolutionen und wie er sie erlebte.
Insgesamt stellt das Buch meiner Meinung nach einen großen Überblick über die moderne Physik dar. Es finden sich darin viele exzellente anschauliche Beispiele und unvergessliche Graphiken - womit ich meine, dass sie so eindringlich gewählt sind, dass man Zusammenhang und Inhalt nicht vergessen wird.
Dass das Buch auf Englisch geschrieben ist, mag für manche Leser ein Hindernis sein. Auch die Tiefe der Gedanken und die Breite des angesprochenen Wissens mit teilweise dennoch recht spezifischen Kapiteln durchsetzt führt dazu, dass der Leser auf die Probe gestellt wird und meiner Meinung nach doch viel Ruhe und Zeit braucht, die schwierigen Konzepte zu verinnerlichen.
Wenn man sich diese Zeit aber nehmen möchte, dann finde ich insgesamt aber dieses eines der besten populärwissenschaftlichen Bücher unserer Zeit - meiner Meinung nach übertrifft es sogar Stephen Hawkings Werk "Eine kurze Geschichte der Zeit", weil es breiter ist, witziger und persönlicher geschrieben und auch, weil es noch näher an die aktuellen Forschung angrenzt - ganz exzellent und für interessierte Leser - vollkommene Laien unbedingt eingeschlossen - absolut zu empfehlen.
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am 13. Juli 2000
I started reading books like this when I was quite young -- 13. I started with _Schrodinger's Cat_ and moved on to _A Brief History of Time_, and then started taking physics courses to get more information.
However, all of this string theory should be new, even to undergrad college students. Most college physics professors will only teach or even briefly touch upon what is 100% confirmed. String theory is fascinating (if not confirmed) -- but you probably wont find it in a run-of-the-mill classroom.
The author presents his information in a very convincing manner. Another reader said "facts-about-to-be-proved" or somesuch. This is true. I find no reason to disagree with his methods of explaining this theory and am rather glad that he comes across like he does.
The book is not an _easy_ read -- I've had quite a few college physics courses and I found myself struggling towards the end -- but it is a worthwhile read for anyone who understands general relativity and/or quantum mechanics and would like to understand where the two of them meet.
I would recommend the book to anyone.
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am 12. April 1999
I just finished reading this book and skimming the other reviews here. I noticed that nobody really said much about their background (although one of Steve Weinberg's ex-grad students may have revealed his or her identity). I am not a physicist; my education in this subject is limited to a reasonable math background (complex variables, linear algebra, vector calc, differential equations) and some basic introduction, years ago, to special relativity.
This book has pluses and minuses; in my view, the pluses outweight the minuses and, if this isn't your field but you like to be well-informed as a general matter, the book is a worthwhile read.
The pluses for the non-initiate are a pretty good overview, in a very big-picture way, of the main macro issues in relativity and the big landmarks in string theory. Quantum mechanics is handled less successfully, but, as Greene acknowledges, more is scarcely possible without quickly descending into considerable mathematical complexity. However, some very rough qm concepts are weaved nicely with relativity in the course of explaining how string theory might resolve the conflicts between the two and the conflicts between relativity and the "big bang" theory and black hole theory. The end result is that one gets a pretty nice bird's eye view of the field (as confirmed by a couple of my friends who ARE cosmologists).
The book is a quick read, but you won't get the concepts in a single read. Partly this is because there is a lot of stuff and it becomes increasingly complex as the book proceeds. Partly this is because Greene's style is somewhat truncated; over and over again he provides a grand build up to a large-scale chunk of string- or M-theory, only to have the denoument be frustratingly short on any sort of detail. I sense the hand of the editor here, and I have the feeling that Greene may have been forced to cut out some of his slightly more technical explanations. These would have been welcome. The end notes help a little.
The other "problems" with the book may be "problems" of the field itself. After a while, you are so many levels down that you aren't sure if Greene is talking about a theory of how the universe works, or a theory of how a theory works, or a theory of how a set of theories works, or a theory of how a set of metatheories get the point. Much of this stuff is taking place in a realm that is purely hypothetical. As Greene acknowledges, there is little prospect of experimental verification of any of this stuff at presently achievable energies. Many of the "breakthroughs" he describes have taken place purely on paper; they are breakthroughs not because they have been proven experimentally, but because they are theoretically plausible or consistent. The overarching impression one leaves this book with is a combination of (1) my this is clever and (2) has this whole thing become a house of cards? Greene recounts a series of discoveries that have "saved" physics by resolving inconsistencies between various observations, but are these really possible features of a universe or clever tricks that exist only in our heads?
On the other hands, this book lets the reader understand where the big quesions remain, some of which Greene articulates and some of which he doesn't. For instance, he talks much about the fabric of spacetime and of the compact dimensions predicted by string theory and supergravity, but what about the time dimension? Are all the compact dimensions spatial? Are some more time-like? Is there some intermediate state? And if there was a big bang, what caused it? Is it enough to say that the notion of causality has no meaning in this context?
Organizationally, it might have been better to come back to basics at the end, after the very open ended discussion of cosmology and multiverses, etc. It will be a huge intellectual feat if string theory can explain how the universe works today. That should be emphasized; its failure to explain why the universe works the way it does should not be the ending of this book.
Just my 2 cents. OK, maybe 20 cents.
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am 12. Januar 2015
Im ersten Teil des Buches werden die Grundlagen der Relativitätstheorie und der Quantenmechanik anschaulich und mit tollen Beispielen erklärt. Es ist die beste Einführung, die ich bisher gelesen habe und klar 5 Sterne.

Mit dem zweiten Teil habe ich allerdings Probleme, denn er ist nicht bodenständig genug. Der Autor schreibt z. B. in Kapitel 11 als “Ich-Erzähler” über seine Entdeckungen und mit welchen Professoren er diskutiert hat. Das liest sich nicht wie ein Sachbuch, sondern wie eine Autobiographie. Der Autor verliert hier die kritische Distanz zu seiner eigenen Forschung. Und er vergisst meiner Meinung nach auch zu oft, dass es sich bei der String “Theory” nur um eine Hypothese handelt.

Denn in der Physik werden mathematische Modelle erstellt, die die physikalische Realität möglichst genau darstellen sollen. Zuerst wird eine Vermutung, eine Hypothese als Menge von Formeln aufgestellt. Erst wenn die Formeln genügend oft in Experimenten überprüft bzw. verifiziert wurden und sie hinreichend genaue Ergebnisse liefern, werden sie als "korrekt” eingestuft und das Modell wird dann als “Theorie” bezeichnet. Korrekterweise dürfte man daher nicht von “string theory” oder “big bang theory” sprechen, da es sich noch um Hypothesen handelt.

Die "String-Theorie” ist zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt nur ein mathematisches Modell, ein Konzept. Es ist eher theoretische Mathematik als Physik. Die String-Teilchen sind so klein, man kann sie weder physikalisch untersuchen, noch mit Computern sinnvoll simulieren.

Es ist wohl noch zu früh für die String-Theorie (bzw. die Superstring- oder M-Theorie). So forschen die Forscher schon mal auf Vorrat in der Hoffnung, dass sie die fehlenden Puzzleteile finden. Ob es ökonomisch sinnvoll ist, eine Nadel in einem Heuhaufen zu suchen, ist eine andere Frage. Das ging nicht in meine Benotung ein. Mir ist der Autor nicht selbstkritisch genug.
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am 30. Juli 2000
As a medical practitioner who is not versed with the intricate details of quantum mechanics and relativitiy (let alone string theory), I have been waiting for some time to read a book which explains in laymen terms, yet not too simplistically, the most recent attempts to formulate a Theory of Everything (TOE). I have enjoyed many books on related topics by people such as Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking, Murry Gell-Mann, Timothy Ferris, John Gribbin, Michio Kaku and others, however I desperately wanted to extend my knowledge to String Theory and its applications.
I picked up Brian Green's book with alacrity and wasn't disappointed. This book explains in sufficient but not too laborious detail the most recent advances in String/M Theory. Overall, the book is well structured and illuminating. Pitching with the right amount of detail and employing cogent analogies makes it a very easy read for a layperson. The one thing I would have liked, however, was a little bit of mathematical detail although I don't honestly know if this is feasible given the breadth of the topic.
Certainly a must read for anyone intersted in keeping abreast of the physics frontier, albeit it in an amateur way.
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am 12. Februar 1999
The explanations I've been looking for since I first heard of string theory! Other books promise; this one delivers. If you've ever had the thought, "What if there were an entire Universe in a molecule?", you've got your evidence now. Brian Greene describes, without a single equation, how string theory envisions a world in which there is (prepare for a weird concept) a minimum length. Smaller than that, things are--mathematically--actually larger! In other words, hiding in worlds described by the Planck Length (exponentially smaller than quarks), there could be entire universes hidden within every bit of matter. Indeed, our own universe could actually be within a submicroscopic particle in someone else's universe. Throw in 6 extra dimensions, and the possible reconciliation of every major problem in physics, and it all adds up to one very entertaining, easy-to-read popular science book. This is one you'll be starting dinner conversation about for the next few years.
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am 26. August 2012
Brian Greene ist für mich ein echter Star!
-als Ingenieur interessiert mich alles was sich in der Wissenschaft tut. Nachdem ich das Buch schon in deutsch gelesen habe habe ich es auf dem KINDLE in english gelesen und fand es gleichsam verständlich. Das Kindle WÖRTERBUCH ist da eine Hilfe, auch wenn nicht alle Fachbegriffe enthalten sind.
Die Ordnung in der Greene die Erkenntnisse darstellt, ist faszinierend und lässt noch mehr "Wunder" erwarten.
Gerne würde ich Brian Greene mal persönlich kennen lernen.
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am 1. Januar 2000
Greene makes some good points the main one being that strings are interesting(the best example being the calculation of black hole entropy) despite the lack of experimental evidence.For a layman such as myself, it was quite accessible.
My only complaint is that the book seems a little biased towards the work of Greene himself. I have no reliable method of estimating his contribution but, judging from the book, it was him, Witten and a few others who made the field. Witten I believe.
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am 5. Februar 2000
In this book on eleven-dimensional space-time, Brian Greene proves himself to be truly exceptional in at least three of those dimensions: by his thorough comprehension of the origins and direction of theoretical physics up through the emergence of superstring theory, by his monumental contributions to that theory in identifying its components and extending its reach, and, thirdly, in explaining this subject in a way that allows the "layman" to gain an appreciation and intuitive understanding of it.
By way of explaining the use of the term "layman," let me point out that this book is not light reading. I don't believe it can be read by those without at least some exposure to college level physics. I am a former high school physics teacher, and I had to really stretch to understand Dr. Greene's explanations. Nevertheless, considering the mathematical and physical complexity of the subject matter, Dr. Greene has done a splendid and remarkable job of explaining the subject at a conceptual, nonmathematical level. Anyone with a physics background through the level of an introductory course in modern physics will find Dr. Greene's treatise accessible. It brings the reader closer to the current state of research in the rapidly moving field of superstring theory than books written even two years ago.
The book requires work, but it was a labor of love. This book is beautifully and artfully written and was a joy to read. I recommend it highly to anyone with the modest physics background described above who enjoys exploring theoretical physics and cosmology at a level approximating that of Scientific American.
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