The Elegant Universe
By Brian Greene
Review by Felix (Physics)
The Elegant Universe provides a brilliant introduction to a range of topics in theoretical physics, as well as the story of their conception. From Einstein’s relativity to Quantum Mechanics, Brian Greene manages to present them both in a way that is not only understandable, but also fun, interesting and genuinely inspiring. The book is written with the intention of being understood by those with no physics education whatsoever, so don’t be afraid of pages and pages of equations – there are none. Instead it provides a fascinating description, from scratch, of all of these ideas and gives an insight into the forefront of theoretical physics.
After introducing the theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, the book goes on to explain how the two cannot coexist – they both have their own uses and applications but on a fundamental level they disagree, and yet they each have strong evidence supporting their claims. This brings the book to its main discussion; the search for an all-encompassing theory of everything, which results in a “superstring” theory (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this before – I hadn’t until I read this for the first time).
The book is a great way of exposing yourself to topics in physics that go far beyond that of anything at school, but in a format which is easy to understand. It’s a way of giving yourself an idea of what kind of physics there is out there, from the introductions to General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, to the descriptions of superstring theories, all of which are very different to the kind of physics that you might be used to.
I would honestly recommend this book for anyone, regardless of whether you are considering studying physics or not. It is genuinely interesting, easy to get into, well worth reading and requires no prior knowledge of any of its content.
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene