Tying up the loose ends

The Elegant Universe

By Brian Greene

Although this book is for someone with more than just a casual interest in the nature of the universe, it is nevertheless an excellent account of the most challenging big idea of our time – String Theory. Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe proved very popular when it was first published a decade ago, and it is not hard to see why. His approach to String Theory is one of absolute wonder and, at the same time, the cool objectivity a decent teachers needs in order to explain it to his pupils.

Greene strikes this balance with perfection. His examples are tangible and understandable, his descriptions reasonable. And he weaves together some of the biggest ideas in physics beautifully: in Greene’s hands, you can hear the universe clicking together. No longer are Newton’s gravity and Einstein’s space-time and Feynman’s quanta locked in their contradictory silos. Greene shows how String Theory unites them. Tantalisingly, he even hints at discoveries expected but yet to happen as of the time of writing. It’s now up to me to find out what’s happened in String Theory over the last decade. Now that the Large Hadron Collider is warming up properly, what a great time!

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