Ett utsökt universum : supersträngar, dolda dimensioner och sökandet efter den slutgiltiga teorin

by Brian Greene

Paper Book, 2001



Call number




Stockholm : Norstedt, 2001 ;


Relates the scientific story and the human struggle behind the search for the string theory--the ultimate theory which scientists believe is capable of describing all physical phenomena, large and small; and discusses how the theory is impacting human understanding of space and time.

Media reviews

In the great tradition of physicists writing for the masses, ''The Elegant Universe'' sets a standard that will be hard to beat.

User reviews

LibraryThing member labwriter
My husband read this book in under a week--absolutely ate it up, loved it. I plowed my way through the thing in about six weeks. I won't say I understood it all--far from it. For that you probably need a strong physics or math background. But I did learn something, and it was a stretch reading
Show More
outside my comfort zone. The book is dense reading (and by that I don't mean it's written badly, it's just packed with information), but it's certainly not impenetrable for a reasonably intelligent reader. Greene has done a good job of making difficult material accessible to the layman who has an interest in and a willingness to understand the subject. He doesn't assume that the reader has a previous knowledge of physics, but he does assume his reader is willing to work at it. If you read this book, your brain will grow--ha.
Show Less
LibraryThing member GlennBell
The book provides an excellent explanation of special relativity, quantum physics, and string theory. The explanation of special relativity was helpful. Quantum physics is largely not to be understood in the realm of experience. If string theory were not a rational and elegant mathematical effort
Show More
for the theory of everything, one would expect that someone who believed in it to be on drugs. I recommend the book for I have never heard a better explanation of this information.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sirfurboy
This is a fantastic book that hits a sweet spot between too much detail and too superficial coverage of the topic. Covering the breadth of modern physics, it does a creditable job of taking an interested layman through to the world of string theory, and allowing us to see that there really is
Show More
elegance in the universe.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Greene provides lucid explanations about why we need string theory, even though there is still no experimental evidence to support it. There is an ill-concealed skeleton in the closet of physics: "As they are currently formulated, general relativity and quantum mechanics cannot both be right." Each
Show More
is exceedingly accurate in its field: general relativity explains the behavior of the universe at large scales, while quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. Yet the theories collide with each other under extreme conditions such as black holes or near the big bang. Brian Greene is a specialist in quantum field theory who believes that the two pillars of physics can be reconciled in superstring theory, a theory of everything. Greene provides the reader a tour of string theory well-reasoned enough to satisfy the scientifically literate.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pking36330
One of my favorite non-fiction books. You must be commited to learning about string theory to make it through the book, but the author does a great job of explaining incredibly complex M Theory concepts and principals in a way non-physicists can understand. This was the book I needed to catch me up
Show More
to the advances in quantum physics and string theory since I graduated from college. Well written but challenging read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bell7
Relativity and quantum mechanics both help us understand the universe, but in some cases the equations involved don't play nice and come up with nonsensical answers. Superstring theory (or string theory for short) is a "theory of everything" that attempts to better explain the universe. The gist of
Show More
the theory is that instead of particles (electrons, quarks, etc.), the smallest units are, in fact, vibrating one-dimensional strings. In The Elegant Universe, Greene expands on the basics to explain in fairly non-mathematical language what the possible ramifications would be.

I never took physics in school, though I'm fascinated by the subject and have read a handful of popular science books on the topic. That being said, I probably would not have managed to finish this book if it hadn't been for a tutored read with help from fellow LTer Jim (drneutron). In the first few chapters, Greene details what has gone on in physics before, from our changing understanding of gravity, to special and general relativity. In chapter 5, he switches gears and lays out the basics of string theory. Chapter 7 on gets more and more speculative as Greene explores how 10 dimensions could exist, supersymmetry, black holes, and more. He is a definite proponent of the theory, and is not always clear about what is a core part of string theory or what is a fun mathematical possibility within the theory. Still, it was entertaining to read and a mind-stretching experience. I will be very interested in seeing what the next decade brings to the search for a theory of everything.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jpporter
This book does its best to discuss, in terms not too complicated, the role of superstring theory in uniting quantum physics with relativist physics. Greene is certainly qualified in the field, and is quite self-congratulatory in discussing his contributions to the field.

The discussion is, for the
Show More
most part, comprehensible, but it does go over the deep end in places, and it would probably be impossible to write a book about theoretical physics that didn't get a bit technical along the way.

The problem is, physics at this level is primarily mathematics, as we don't have the means to experiment/experience reality at string level at present (as Greene is careful to point out).

If you are comfortable with theoretical physics and/or mathematics, you will find this book informative and somewhat entertaining; otherwise, you probably just wasted a bunch of money.
Show Less
LibraryThing member wouterzzzzz
The first book of Greene on string theory. Quite hard to follow, even though he tries to make it as easy as possible. With a certain level of physics knowledge, you should be able to keep up, but it isn't easy. Starting with an introduction to physics, Einstein's work, and quantum mechanics, we
Show More
come to the conclusion that "something" is missing. Greene explains what string theory is, and why it could be the missing part. Very interesting, but challanging.
Show Less
LibraryThing member gregorybrown
Well-written, fascinating look at the development of special and general relativity—and the omissions that are driving theoretical research ever since. HOWEVER, and this is a huge caveat, most of the book may be chronicling a misfire. (Lee Smolin's book THE TROUBLE WITH PHYSICS makes a good case
Show More
for String Theory's failures; I'm about to re-read it to refresh my memory, so I can't go into too much detail yet.)

Greene's storytelling is certainly seductive, but a lot of String Theory's appeal is getting the same results as other theories, but in a more elegant fashion. This is a good thing because it means the theory avoids being outright wrong, but makes it difficult to find results that'll uniquely support strings, and not just the mass of other popular theories.

More troublingly, the experimental evidence that might support strings or these other theories simply isn't showing up. The Large Hadron Collider found the Higgs Boson, but has yet to uncover ANY signs of supersymmetry—the linchpin of string theory and other popular proposals. Oops. Of course, there are always other variants that hold out the hope that supersymmetric partners are just higher mass and harder to reach, but constant tweaking and adjustment kinda undermines the original claims to elegance!

When the book is standing on firmer ground, it's marvelous; Greene is a fantastic writer and explainer. But as an argument for String Theory? Reader beware.
Show Less
LibraryThing member wrmjr66
I can't claim to understand everything, but this book does a very good job at explaining the complete strangeness of the universe at its most basic levels. The book is laugh-out-loud funny in spots, both because of Greene's ability to illustrate difficult concepts in clever ways and because the
Show More
things that science have discovered are so strange.

If the standard model of the 20th century is hard to comprehend, string theory with it's curled up dimensions is even harder. Most of string theory is unproven, and the latter section of the book deals with its more speculative aspects (and I found that the weakest part of the book). But I found this to be a good introduction to difficult concepts without too much advanced math.
Show Less
LibraryThing member chersbookitlist
After Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene is my favorite writer of physics for the lay person. Using clear language with a minimum of technical jargon, he opens up the mysteries of the Universe to non-scientists (at least as close as you can get without a background in theoretical physics).
LibraryThing member yarkan
The author, who also researches string theory, used all kinds of simpler illustrated metaphors to explain how, without mathematics, we live in about ten dimensions, most of them curled up and invisible. This just seemed silly to me but supposedly, it could eventually explain how everything is
Show More
interconnected. Different particles are different vibrations of these strings. I spoke with a physicist who was skeptical of an approach that seemed to be mostly untestable mathematical models. These string theorists dream of an elegant universe, for which they can calculate not only the how but the why. That'll be the day.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Carmenere
I read The Elegant Universe to hopefully increase my knowledge of black holes what I got instead was a review of Newton and Einstein's theory's and the introduction of a new theory, String Theory or as some call it, The Theory of Everything which introduces the possiblity of the existence of 11
Show More
dimensions. The book ends with work currently being done at Fermilab and CERN where experiments are being done to collide atoms and possibly simulate the Big Bang.
Although the book barely touched upon Black Holes it did introduce new information that further peaked my interest in this sector of science in easy to read for laymen terms.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Sovranty
You do not have to have a degree in physics to understand this book. Not only does the author lay out in an easy-to-understand way the history of understood physics, but he continues with its evolution to the point of infinite possibilities. While the subject is daunting, it is written elegantly
Show More
and coherently.
Show Less
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
This is the first book I've read on string theory, and I think it's done a good job of helping me to understand it. I already understood relativity and quantum mechanics fairly well, so the first part of this book, which explains them for the benefit of readers not already aware of physics, was
Show More
easy going. The rest of the book goes towards explaining super string theory. The book is well written, and is done in such a way to make understanding the concepts as easy as possible. It should be suitable for anyone who wants to understand the theories, as everything is well explained and illustrated, and in this way is like Hawking's Brief History, except this book does string theory too, and is a result quite a bit longer. Readers shouldn't find this book hard going though, it didn't take me too long to read, as despite it being quite long, the type isn't that small, and there are a few pictures. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading popular science, who wants to find out about the world of tiny vibrating strings, and the the extra dimensions that they live in.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jcopenha
This was a great book. Such complex material presneted in such an understandable way. I'll have to pick up his next book eventually.
LibraryThing member Giglio.Danny
"The Elegant Universe" takes the path of most other Astronomical Physics Books. Working his way through Einstein's theories, Greene uses everyday language, in addition to excellent analogies to explain truly difficult physics conecpts. He starts out on the topic of Einsteins's special relativity,
Show More
using such examples as the "dueling racecars" to explain with layman situations. Moving on to General Relativity, he provides a sufficent explanation of space and time, but most importantly explains the importance and relavence of the theory. He recounts Einstein's famous prediction of the bending of sunlight during an ecclipse, but fails to provide adequate explanation of certain other experiments relating to general relativity.
The last half of the book focuses on Super String Theory, which at first begins with wonderfully entertaining explanations of quantum mechanics. The examples used here are most memorable from the book, and occupy the majority of the Nova special based onthe book. With a firm footing on quantum, however, Greene does not seem equally well versed in his ability to explain String Theory. I felt that I got a basic understanding of S-theory from the book, but became lost within the last 100 pages.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pbirch01
After reading this book I don't understand string theory much better than before. Greene anticipates this in his readers and accommodates it well. He starts with very basic Newtonian physics and move from there. He covers string theory and his won research with a lot of insight and detail. However,
Show More
for as much detail as he goes into he generally provides a few examples for the lay person to understand. This was the reason I kept reading the book; having string theory described in terms I can understand makes it all the more familiar and enjoyable.
Show Less
LibraryThing member agricolaoval
No matter how you look at it this is an inspiring book. String theory may or may not represent the real world, and to be quite honest it's still a mathematical model in need of empirical confirmation. The charm of this book is how it makes our most self evident truths problematic. It doesn't matter
Show More
which of the theories will eventually prevail; it's quite evident that they are going to break totally with our naive and immediate understanding of space and time. The truth is that we have no idea what space is or what a particle really is. The real value of string theory is the fact that it offers a fairly convincing argument for our living in a ten dimensional spacetime. A sobering thought no matter if it's true or not. It is a line of thought that makes us see that we don't really understand the world much better than people did in the paleolitic times. The world is more exciting that ever before because what science has done is opening up vast new frontiers that need to be explored. This moment is possibly the most exciting in human history. Nothing can be compared to the feeling that we may have to debunk a big part of what we have believed in and start out on a totally new path. String theory may not be the final answer, but it certainly has contributed to the insight that it's now impossible to go back to where we used to live. Which is a very unsanitary thing to do anyway.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Ishpeck
Brian Greene explores, in plain English, the concepts behind contemporary string theory physics, the history that lead to its development, and the many potential outcomes of its further refinement.
LibraryThing member JBreedlove
The begining of the book explained the standard model. Though following along was difficult I was rewarded by a glimmer of enlightenment and a sense of what these theories and forces meant. The middle of the book was about the theory itself and I was completely lost w no way of envisioning what he
Show More
was talking about. The ending summed up the possibilities of a multiverse which was a paradigm and scale shift for me. A difficult but interesting read. The next time I watch the Nova Special I think I will understand a little more. And I do mean little.
Show Less
LibraryThing member srice07
Awesome book. Accessible to those of us lacking math/science backgrounds. Still, I have read it several times (and will probably need a couple of more reads) to retain the basic principles about gravity, etc. that are needed to better grasp later chapters.
LibraryThing member Niecierpek
I can’t pretend I understood everything, but the book was fascinating to read and imagine, mind-boggling and mind bending at the same time. The book is a presentation of the superstring theory of the universe, or more correctly, multiverse, because we are supposedly inhabiting one of the many
Show More
that exist. According to the theory everything is built of superstrings: tiny one- or two-dimensional vibrating strings much like tiny, tiny pieces of loose end or closed rubber bands of energy, and some other more exotic forms like membranes and blobs. Different vibrations of those entities give rise to different phenomena like photons, gravitons, particles etc. The universe has also many more dimensions that we are aware of (10 plus time) some of which are curled up into tiny but very complicated shapes, called Calabi-Yau shapes, that can undergo wondrous transformations, tear and then repair themselves. The dimensions that we are aware of (three plus time) are the ones that became unfurled at the beginning of our universe. All the others remain curled up, and are very, but not infinitely, small and look very fancy. Superstring theory strives to be “the theory of everything”- the one that will unite General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and provide the ultimate answer to the build of the fabric of the universe, but even though the best of the ones that exist, it still has a lot of problems with itself. I must admit, though, that the "Elegant Universe" is not a well written book, and Greene's explanations have muddied the water quite a bit for me, especially in the parts that I already knew something about. Nevetheless, a fascinating read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member justine
A well-written, engaging book of science for the popular audience. Great examples.
LibraryThing member Renzomalo
Not my cup of tea. I have the 1999 edition and had high hopes for gaining insights into the current state of universe, but it was not to be. What I did find was a somewhat self-aggrandizing tome on theoretical notions, guesses and suppositions amid a plethora of name-dropping episodes wholly absent
Show More
in comparable books such at Einsteins' "Relativity," Feynman's "QED" and Hawking's "The Grand Design." Green's arguments and explanations elbows-rubbing incidents reminded me of those heated theological battles over the potential number of dancing angels on the head of a pin. Like I said, not my cup of tea.
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date

1999 (1st edition, New York, W.W. Norton)

Physical description

519 p.; 22 cm


9113007661 / 9789113007663
Page: 0.5195 seconds