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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

Brian Greene THE FABRIC OF THE COSMOS
The Fabric of the Cosmos
Space, Time and the Texture of Reality
by Dr. Brian Greene

I can't even begin to write anything meaningful about this book, just like I can't simply write about the taste of the purest honey or the smell of the sweetest lavender. It has to be experienced to be appreciated.

As an ex-physics-student sporting starry-eyes in her first Elementary Particles class, and tearing her hair out in Quantum Electrodynamics class in grad school, I have left my past life behind, but the echoes of it still resonate.

Understanding the Universe within a given framework might seem an empty pursuit in the light of the more abstract meta-physical sense of pondering on the nature of reality... Is What We See, What We Get? Or is there more to it than meets the senses? If so, is that perception real? In that sense, what do we mean by 'reality'?

I was in awe when I read Dr.Greene's The Elegant Universe for the first time almost a decade ago. This book is no different.

His ability to take complex concepts, remove the language of mathematics that describes it so well, and replace it with simple words in the English language, a language fraught with inadequacies, in such an elegant way that even a novice enthusiast can follow along easily, is truly a gift to be treasured.

While the earlier chapters present a survey of physics from Classical Newtonian to Relativity to Quantum Mechanics, which any self-respecting physics grad student ought to know, I love the way Dr.Greene unfolds it and leads the reader into progressively complex concepts with effortless ease.

It is no surprise that my favorite sections in this book were the ones discussing String Theory. And, since D has seen the PBS's Nova presentation of Supersting theory, I was happy to share my findings from the book about M-theory and Braneworlds with him.

Rather than trying to confound the reader, Dr. Greene's gentle approach to make the complex formulations and latest developments in Cosmology and Quantum Mechanics, particularly the current research in String Theory, accessible to the reader makes this an exciting read. Along with helpful asides and everyday analogies that sometimes made me chuckle, this book reads like a fascinating novel.

Among the many fundamental questions, one that tantalizes me the most is about the Arrow of Time: Why does it seem like Time flows only in one direction - forward, as we know it. Example: We can eat an apple (forward in Time), but we cannot un-eat an apple (backwards in Time). What are the implications if Time moves in more than one direction, say forwards and backwards? Of course, the answer is not readily apparent in today's understanding of the workings of the universe, but, Dr.Greene's book makes it fun to just think about these things once in a while.

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1 Comments:

Blogger ChoxBox said...

Have read The Elegant Universe and found it excellent. This book sounds good as well, will pick it up. Thanks!

10:46 AM  

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