Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Elegant Universe I

The Elegant Universe:
Superstrings, Hidden
Dimensions, and the Quest
for the Ultimate Theory  
Author(s)Brian Greene
Subject(s)String theory
Publication dateFebruary 1999
Media typePrint (Hardcover andPaperback)
Followed byThe Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality

The Elegant Universe is a book by Brian Greene published in 1999 which introduces string theoryand provides a comprehensive though non-technical assessment of the theory and some of its shortcomings.


Beginning with a brief consideration of classical physics, which concentrates on the major conflicts in physics, Greene establishes a historical context for string theory as a necessary means of integrating the probabilistic world of the standard model of particle physics and the deterministicNewtonian physics of the macroscopic world. Greene discusses the essential problem facing modern physics: unification of Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Greene suggests that string theory is the solution to these two conflicting approaches. Greene frequently uses analogies and thought experiments to provide a means for the layman to come to terms with the theory which has the potential to create a unified theory of physics.


Brian Greene (born February 9, 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996. Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different Calabi-Yau manifolds (concretely, relating theconifold to one of its orbifolds). He also described the flop transition, a mild form oftopology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point. He has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant UniverseIcarus at the Edge of TimeThe Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and a related PBS television special. Greene also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode "The Herb Garden Germination."


Greene was born in New York City. His father, Alan Greene, was a one-time vaudevilleperformer and high school dropout who later worked as a voice coach and composer. After attending Stuyvesant High School, where he was a classmate of Lisa Randall, Greene entered Harvard in 1980 to major in physics. 

After completing his bachelor's degree, Greene earned his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, graduating in 1987. While at Oxford, Greene also studied piano with the concert pianist Jack Gibbons.
Greene joined the physics faculty of Cornell University in 1990, and was appointed to a full professorship in 1995. The following year, he joined the staff of Columbia Universityas a full professor. 

At Columbia, Greene is co-director of the university's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics (ISCAP), and is leading a research program applying superstring theory to cosmological questions. He is also one of the FQXi large grant awardees, his project title being "Arrow of Time in the Quantum Universe". 

His co-investigators are David Albert and Maulik Parikh.
Greene is married to former ABC producer Tracy Day. He became vegan in 1997 after touring Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY.

Brian Greene

At the launch of the World Science Festival, April 2008
BornFebruary 9, 1963 (age 48)
New York CityU.S.
ResidenceUnited States
InstitutionsCornell University
Columbia University
Alma materStuyvesant High School
Harvard University
Oxford University
Doctoral advisorGraham G. Ross (Oxford University)
James Binney
Known forString theory
The Elegant Universe
The Fabric of the Cosmos

Greene's area of research is string theory, a candidate for a theory of quantum gravity, attempts to explain the different particle species of thestandard model of particle physics as different aspects of a single type of one-dimensional, vibrating string. One peculiarity of string theory is that it postulates the existence of extra dimensions of space – instead of the usual four dimensions, there must be ten spatial dimensions and one dimension of time to allow for a consistently defined string theory. The theory has several explanations to offer for why we do not perceive these extra dimensions, one being that they are "curled up" (compactified, to use the technical term) and are hence too small to be readily noticeable.

In the field, Greene is best known for his contribution to the understanding of the different shapes the curled-up dimensions of string theory take on. The most important of these shapes are so-called Calabi-Yau manifolds; when the extra dimensions take on those particular form, physics in three dimensions exhibits an abstract symmetry known as supersymmetry.

Greene has worked on a particular class of symmetry relating two different Calabi-Yau manifolds, known as mirror symmetry (concretely, relating the conifold to one of its orbifolds). He is also known for his research on the flop transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point.
Currently, Greene studies string cosmology, especially the imprints of trans Planckian physics on the cosmic microwave background, andbrane-gas cosmologies that could explain why the space around us has three large dimensions, expanding on the suggestion of a black hole electron, namely that the electron may be a black hole.

See also


  1. ^ "Biography for Brian Greene"Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
  2. ^ JR Minkel (Spring 2006). "The String is The Thing - Brian Greene Unravels the Fabric of the Universe"Columbia Magazine (Columbia University). Retrieved 2007-10-31.
  3. a b Overbye, Dennis (June 3, 2008). "An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings"New York Times.
  4. ^ Boss, Shira. "Brian Greene Has the World on a String". Columbia College Today. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Consciousness Emerges in the Ash of Stellar Alchemy"Flickr. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
  6. ^ Was brian greene vegan
  7. ^ "Profile of Brian Greene". Royce Carlton Incorporated. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  8. ^'s catalog entry
  9. ^ Shapiro, Gary. "New York, Cambridge To Host Citywide Science Festivals"New York Sun. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
  10. ^ "Future-ish Honor". 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-15.