Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book 10: The Elegant Universe

Book 9: The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

By Brian Greene

Well. Where to begin. Part of why I haven’t updated this blog is because the review of this book was exceptionally intimidating. The book took me quite a while to read, (about 3 weeks) not because it was long, but because the concepts were difficult ones. However, this is not a book that I will brag that I read because it didn’t really make me feel SMARTER for having read it. Rather, I’d like to hide this experience under the proverbial bushel because god forbid someone ELSE read this book and would like me to speak intelligently on it with them.

Not going to happen. Because, even though I read it, I still don’t understand everything it was talking about. Let’s just keep that to ourselves. That’s a lot of time invested to not understand something very well.

The writing itself was well done. I can say that I understand the concept of the constant of the speed of light quite well now thankyouverymuch (having read that particular section 4 times). I got a bit lost in other parts, mostly because it’s difficult to keep ALL the different nomenclature for bits of physic thingies (my own grouping) straight. Branes and colors and quarks all blended together quite well and I had a hard time keeping it all straight. Which, over time, was quite a problem.

One thing that was communicated very well was that the universe runs according to a set of principles which are applicable here, there and everywhere (to quote the good Dr. Suess). And that IS amazing. Gravity, light, sound, it’s all the same IF the conditions are the same. And where the conditions are not the same, well, it behaves in a manner that is predictable with equations. The more I thought about it, the more that it boggled my mind. So, the if the title of the book is also the objective…well I get it.

String Theory…notsomuch. I now understand that Newton’s laws and Einstein’s laws are NOT in agreement. They work on large or small scales, but are not resolvable. So that is where string theory is supposed to come in. I didn’t get it.

Happily, I did some side internet research and found that String Theory is actually a bit outdated and has been experimentally and theoretically proven ‘wrong’. Something about the math being incongruent. I’d LIKE to say that I didn’t understand the book because I’m clearly far too intelligent and discovered the incongruities early on, but that would be a lie. I didn’t understand the book because I just didn’t get the concepts. Still, I did get some of them and that was more than I had understood before so it’s not a total loss.

Would I recommend the book? Sure! You may get it better than I, so I say…GO for it. And when you understand it let me know. I may just want you to talk to me about it.

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