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Reddit mentions of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Sentiment score: 27
Reddit mentions: 33

We found 33 Reddit mentions of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Here are the top ones.

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
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Found 33 comments on The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory:

u/FunkyFortuneNone · 6 pointsr/quantum

Friend asked for a similar list a while ago and I put this together. Would love to see people thoughts/feedback.

Very High Level Introductions:

  • Mr. Tompkins in Paperback
    • A super fast read that spends less time looking at the "how" but focused instead on the ramifications and impacts. Covers both GR as well as QM but is very high level with both of them. Avoids getting into the details and explaining the why.

  • Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution (Great Courses lecture)
    • This is a great intro to the field of non-classical physics. This walks through GR and QM in a very approachable fashion. More "nuts and bolts" than Mr. Tompkins but longer/more detailed at the same time.

      Deeper Pop-sci Dives (probably in this order):

  • Quantum Theory: A Very Brief Introduction
    • Great introduction to QM. Doesn't really touch on QFT (which is a good thing at this point) and spends a great deal of time (compared to other texts) discussing the nature of QM interpretation and the challenges around that topic.
  • The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces
    • Now we're starting to get into the good stuff. QFT begins to come to the forefront. This book starts to dive into explaining some of the macro elements we see as explained by QM forces. A large part of the book is spent on symmetries and where a proton/nucleon's gluon binding mass comes from (a.k.a. ~95% of the mass we personally experience).
  • The Higgs Boson and Beyond (Great Courses lecture)
    • Great lecture done by Sean Carroll around the time the Higgs boson's discovery was announced. It's a good combination of what role the Higgs plays in particle physics, why it's important and what's next. Also spends a little bit of time discussing how colliders like the LHC work.
  • Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time (Great Courses lecture)
    • Not really heavy on QM at all, however I think it does best to do this lecture after having a bit of the physics under your belt first. The odd nature of time symmetry in the fundamental forces and what that means with regards to our understanding of time as we experience it is more impactful with the additional knowledge (but, like I said, not absolutely required).
  • Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics
    • This is not a mathematical approach like "A Most Incomprehensible Thing" are but it's subject matter is more advanced and the resulting math (at least) an order of magnitude harder (so it's a good thing it's skipped). This is a "high level deep dive" (whatever that means) into QFT though and so discussion of pure abstract math is a huge focus. Lie groups, spontaneous symmetry breaking, internal symmetry spaces etc. are covered.
  • The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
    • This is your desert after working through everything above. Had to include something about string theory here. Not a technical book at all but best to be familiar with QM concepts before diving in.

      Blending the line between pop-sci and mathematical (these books are not meant to be read and put away but instead read, re-read and pondered):

  • A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Intro to GR
    • Sorry, this is GR specific and nothing to do with QM directly. However I think it's a great book acting as an introduction. Definitely don't go audible/kindle. Get the hard copy. Lots of equations. Tensor calculus, Lorentz transforms, Einstein field equations, etc. While it isn't a rigorous textbook it is, at it's core, a mathematics based description not analogies. Falls apart at the end, after all, it can't be rigorous and accessible at the same time, but still well worth the read.
  • The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics
    • Not QM at all. However it is a great introduction to using math as a tool for describing our reality and since it's using it to describe classical mechanics you get to employ all of your classical intuition that you've worked on your entire life. This means you can focus on the idea of using math as a descriptive tool and not as a tool to inform your intuition. Which then would lead us to...
  • Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum
    • Great introduction that uses math in a descriptive way AND to inform our intuition.
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
    • Incredible book. I think the best way to describe this book is a massive guidebook. You probably won't be able to get through each of the topics based solely on the information presented in the book but the book gives you the tools and knowledge to ask the right questions (which, frankly, as anybody familiar with the topic knows, is actually the hardest part). You're going to be knocking your head against a brick wall plenty with this book. But that's ok, the feeling when the brick wall finally succumbs to your repeated headbutts makes it all worth while.
u/mattymillhouse · 5 pointsr/suggestmeabook

Some of my favorites:

Brian Greene -- The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Elegant Universe, and The Hidden Reality. Greene is, to my mind, very similar to Hawking in his ability to take complex subjects and make them understandable for the physics layman.

Hawking -- I see you've read A Brief History of Time, but Hawking has a couple of other books that are great. The Grand Design, The Universe in a Nutshell, and A Briefer History of Time.

Same thing applies to Brian Cox. Here's his Amazon page.

Leonard Susskind -- The Black Hole Wars. Here's the basic idea behind this book. One of the basic tenets of physics is that "information" is never lost. Stephen Hawking delivered a presentation that apparently showed that when matter falls into a black hole, information is lost. This set the physics world on edge. Susskind (and his partner Gerard T'Hooft) set out to prove Hawking wrong. Spoilers: they do so. And in doing so, they apparently proved that what we see as 3 dimensions is probably similar to those 2-D stickers that project a hologram. It's called the Holographic Principle.

Lee Smolin -- The Trouble with Physics. If you read the aforementioned books and/or keep up with physics through pop science sources, you'll probably recognize that string theory is pretty dang popular. Smolin's book is a criticism of string theory. He's also got a book that's on my to-read list called Three Roads to Quantum Gravity.

Joao Magueijo -- Faster Than the Speed of Light. This is another physics book that cuts against the prevailing academic grain. Physics says that the speed of light is a universal speed limit. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Magueijo's book is about his theory that the speed of light is, itself, variable, and it's been different speeds at different times in the universe's history. You may not end up agreeing with Magueijo, but the guy is smart, he's cocky, and he writes well.

u/IronFeather101 · 4 pointsr/PlaceNostalgia


Wow. Have you read this book? It's my favorite!

u/wafflequeene · 3 pointsr/OSU

I heard he's doing a layman's overview of string theory, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, which is similar to what he did in his book The Elegant Universe.

u/0d3vine · 3 pointsr/battlestations

Really great setup! Saw the kind of books you like and I recommend The Elegant Universe if you haven't read it already

u/[deleted] · 3 pointsr/Buddhism

2nd paragraph in, says electrons "communicate" instantaneously. Important to note that they do not communicate any information in the sense that the word communication may suggest.

The 3rd paragraph:

> Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein's long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

There's no communication of information that violates Einstein's work (i.e. we cant use this to communicate arbitrary information.) The finding does however challenge non-locality (EDIT: this stuff gets complicated very fast. Here's the wiki page on locality, basically my statement that there's no communication of information is controversial) which is a very interesting finding.

And for the rest that I don't have time to go through (I apparently have to go do other things now and this is from a skim not a deep read like I had planned):

  • Bohmian mechanics is not really "mainstream" although I do think it's pretty cool.
  • Using cutting edge science to support spiritual views has been a popular move for several thousand years, however in time the spiritual views have all been weeded out. Maybe this time is different, but, you know, be aware of the history of this type of claim.

    If you're into this stuff and would like to learn more, Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe may be something you would enjoy, and I would strongly recommend a solid grounding in Physics in general because it will help you sort the good stuff from the fluff that is so common on the cutting edge of science.

u/SquirrelicideScience · 3 pointsr/Physics

When it comes to QM and String Theory, Brian Greene wrote a great book on the subjects.

u/mozart23 · 3 pointsr/Physics

I think you should read this book to get a clear idea about everything related to string theory : https://www.amazon.com/Elegant-Universe-Superstrings-Dimensions-Ultimate/dp/039333810X

u/OGdrizzle · 2 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

"An elegant universe" by Brian Greene is a good read. It leans more towards string/superstring theory. "The science of interstellar" also touches on some concepts related to quantum mechanics.

I know that you asked for books but "PBS Spacetime" is a YouTube channel that does a great job explaining quantum mechanics. "Veritasium" is another great channel with a few videos explaining phenomena as well. I posted links below. Physics is dope. Happy hunting!

An elegant universe:

The science of interstellar:

PBS Spacetime:


u/Mason11987 · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

I know people think he reduces things to the point of being wrong, but there is a book I read that addressed it in a great way called "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene: https://www.amazon.com/Elegant-Universe-Superstrings-Dimensions-Ultimate/dp/039333810X

u/DrTenmaz · 2 pointsr/movies

No problem!

Philosophy of time is an enormous area!

Not only are there many distinct positions that attempt to address the scientific and philosophical questions in different ways, there are different positions regarding the very method by which we should attempt to answer these questions! Some of these certainly overlap.

What do I mean by this?

Putting it roughly:

There are those who tend to think that we should use science to answer these questions about time. All we should care about is what observations are made; we should only care about the empirical data. These people might point to the great success of our best scientific theories that refer to 'time', such as those in physics, including; Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Entropy (The Arrow of Time), and even Quantum Theory, but also those in neuroscience and psychology, where our perception of time becomes relevant (such as the Inference Model of Time and the Strength Model of Time). So we have notions of physical/objective time, and subjective/mental time. We may talk about time slowing down around a massive body such as a black hole, or time slowing down when a work-shift is boring or when we're experiencing a traumatic event.

But there are also those who tend to think that we should use not just science, but also uniquely philosophical methods as well. Conceptual analysis is one such method; one that involves thinking very carefully about our concepts. This method is a distinctically a priori method (A priori is just philosophical jargon meaning; "Can be known without experience," for example, the statement "All triangles have three sides"). These people think we can learn a great deal about time by reflecting on our concepts about time, our intuitions about time, and the laws of thought (or logic) and how they relate to time. This philosophical approach to answering questions about time is distinctively metaphysical opposed to the former physical and cognitive theories about time.

Of course there are many who may see the use in all of these different approaches!



Hawking, S 1988, A Brief History of Time: From The Big Bang to Black Holes, Bantam Books, Toronto; New York. [Chapters 2, 9 & 10. Absolute Classic, little dated but still great read]

Gardner, M 1988, Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments, W.H. Freeman, UK. [Chapter 1]

Greene, B 2010, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, W. W. Norton, New York. [Chapter 2 is a great introduction for Special Relativity]

Physics and Metaphysics:

Dainton, B 2010, Time and Space, 2nd edn, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal; Ithaca N.Y. [Chapters 1-8, 18, 19 & 21. This book is incredible in scope, it even has a chapter on String Theory, and it really acknowledges the intimate connection between space and time given to us by physics]


Hawley, K 2015, Temporal Parts, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/temporal-parts/>. [Discussion of Perdurantism, the view that objects last over time without being wholly present at every time at which they exist.]

Markosian, N 2014, Time, The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2016/entries/time/>.

Hunter, J 2016, Time Travel, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Callender, C & Edney, R 2014, Introducing Time: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books Limited, UK. [Great book if you want something a bit less wordy and fun, but still very informative, having comprehensive coverage. It also has many nice illustrations and is cheap!]

Curtis, B & Robson, J 2016, A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time, Bloomsbury Publishing, UK. [Very good recent publication that comes from a great series of books in metaphysics]

Ney, A 2014, Metaphysics: An Introduction, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London; New York. [Chapters 5 & 6 (Chapter 4 looks at critiques of Metaphysics in general as a way of answer questions and Chapter 9 looks at Free-will/Determinism/Compatiblism)]

More advanced temporal Metaphysics:

Sider, T 2001, Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time, Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, Oxford New York. [Great book defending what Sider calls "Four-Dimensionalism" (this is confusing given how others have used the same term differently) but by it he means Perdurantism, the view that objects last over time without being wholly present at every time at which they exist.]

Hawley, K 2004, How Things Persist, Clarendon Press, UK. [Another great book: It's extremely similar to the one above in terms of the both content and conclusions reached]

Some good Time travel movies:

Interstellar (2014)

Timecrimes (2007)

Looper (2012)

Primer (2004) [Time Travel on drugs]

12 Monkeys (1995)

Donnie Darko (2001)

The Terminator (1984)

Groundhog Day (1993)

Predestination (2014)

Back To the Future (1-3) (1985-1990)

Source Code (2011)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

u/cr42 · 2 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

I actually see a lot of parallels between your situation and where I found myself at your age. It was 14 or 15 that I really developed an interest in science, because before that I hadn't really been properly exposed before that. Fast forward 6 or 7 years, I'm now a third year university student studying physics and I love it; I'll be applying to PhD programs next fall.

Like you, astronomy (by which I broadly mean astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, etc.) was what really caught my attention. In school, I liked all the sciences and had always been good at math (calculus was by far one of my favorite high school courses because the science can be pretty watered down).

If you're interested in learning more about astrophysics, I would recommend any one of a number of books. The first book on the topic that I read was Simon Singh's Big Bang; I read a couple Brian Greene books, namely The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos; I read Roger Penrose's Cycles of Time, and finally Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Also, I bought a book by Hawking and one by Michio Kaku that, to this day, sit on a shelf at my parents' house unread. I would recommend Singh's book as a nice book that should be at your level, and in fact it was the one recommended to me by some professors who I bugged with questions about the universe when I was around your age. Also, Bryson's book is a good survey look at a lot of different scientific topics, not just astrophysics/cosmology specific; I enjoyed it quite a lot.

As far as reaching out to people, I would recommend trying to connect with some scientists via email. That's what I did, and they were more responsive than I expected (realize that some of the people will simply not respond, probably because your email will get buried in their inbox, not out of any ill-will towards you).

At this point, I'll just stop writing because you've more than likely stopped reading, but if you are still reading this, I'd be more than happy to talk with you about science, what parts interest(ed) me, etc.

u/ACoderGirl · 2 pointsr/Showerthoughts

As a different idea if you're just interested in the whole dimensions thing, I'd recommend The Elegant Universe. It's mostly about string theory, but a prerequisite for understanding that is that it must teach all about higher level dimensions.

It uses the flatland analogies for a bit. But it's a modern and serious read. It's not exactly an easy read, but it's not a textbook either. Should be good for anyone who enjoyed physics at the high school level.

I found it most interesting for its explanations of relativity, though. That wasn't taught in high school, so I found it mind blowing.

u/Futchkuk · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

For people who enjoyed this explanation I highly recommend The Elegant Universe it gives a great ELI5 overview of modern physics from Newton to string theory.

u/hippocratical · 2 pointsr/askscience

I really enjoyed The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. A nice mid point between layman and post-doc

u/itsthehumidity · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

For a more in-depth look at String Theory I recommend The Elegant Universe.

You undoubtedly already know the part of the theory that posits everything boils down to these fundamental "string" objects, and the way they vibrate (both in terms of the typical wave vibration, but also the way where the whole object moves back and forth) determines how it behaves in the universe. And that's influenced and constrained by the type of space in which the strings can move, etc.

But how might that help resolve QM and GR? Well, because strings have a little bit of length.

When we think about particles, we treat them as points with zero dimensions. That works all right in the framework of QM, but when you apply the equations of GR to those points, you end up with some fun, indeterminate divide by zero issues. Any nonzero length at all, like something on the scale of the Planck Length, can bridge the connection and produce a meaningful result.

Now, that's not to say that's all there is to it or everything has been solved (far from it), but that may shed some light on why it's an attractive theory to pursue. There are then many types of String Theory, which may just be different facets of one larger one, but finding connections between them is difficult. And experimental confirmation of strings is completely out of reach of our current technology. So, much remains to figure out.

u/josephsmidt · 2 pointsr/StringTheory

> Especially considering my limited knowledge on physics, but I would like some kind of introduction to string theory.

Okay, the first thing you should do is read a classic in the field on a level you can understand now. I recommend The Elegant Universe. After that I would read books like it until you have taken some calculus and linear algebra.

After you have learned some calculus and linear algebra, I think you could work through this book which to be honest is the most approachable string theory book out there. You learn a lot of complex topics written so that anyone with the basic math skills I described could work through them. Literally every step in derivations and examples are spelled out or you with explanations.

After that, I recommend David Tong's lectures that are as advanced as any graduate text but are much more readable than any other graduate text.

u/Risen_from_ash · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend a great book: The Elegant Universe. The answer to many questions here and more! :)

u/Bike1894 · 1 pointr/conspiracy

It's VERY well understood. Gravity is concretely understood. We can predict orbits, how fast something will fall, gravitational constants, etc. etc. etc. EVERYTHING on a large scale (talking about anything macroscopic) can be precisely modeled and explained.

The issue that we run into is when we get into the Microscopic scale. Not the size of molecules, but the size of atoms and sub-atomic particles. That's when things get tricky. Scientist and theoretical physicists cannot YET accurately model anything that's smaller than an atom. Hell, we can't even tell where an electron will be in the orbit around the proton. However, this is what Quantum Mechanics is trying to tie together. Because nothing at that level mathematically follows the rules of Macro physics such as gravity. It's been a century long question and once a unifying theory comes around to join Quantum Mechanics and Gravitational theory, then it's going to be monumental.

You're absolutely correct that the theory of gravity doesn't apply to ALL things, because at the very small scale, things get really weird. Theories about 11+ dimensions come into play. No one really knows yet or how to predict it.

Fascinatingly enough, this is what Interstellar was about. At the beginning of the movie, they explain that they finally found the unifying theory that joins gravitational theory and quantum mechanics together.

Rest assured, we know how gravity works. We can accurately predict how planets will move, and how gravity impacts other objects. There are anomalies like black holes and quantum mechanics that we just simply don't know enough about. But I can confidently say, gravity is real, we know what it is (although we can't physically see the force, we can just see how it impacts objects), and the math behind it is very concrete.

Since you seem quite literate, I'd highly recommend reading this book:


It's a tough read, but it's real quite fascinating and eye opening to how bizarre the small world really is.

u/prescient_potato · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

For anyone interested in this kind of stuff, I highly recommend The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene (http://www.amazon.com/The-Elegant-Universe-Superstrings-Dimensions/dp/039333810X). I thought it was a great read and relatively easy to understand for someone not in the physics field.

u/Hypersomnus · 1 pointr/worldnews

By looking at the gloves. The Centauri look at the gloves in order to deduce the earth glove key.

TBH; I am no expert on this stuff, we are reaching the point where my hackneyed understanding via science writing and metaphor is falling apart. I suggest reading "the elegant universe by brian greene". It is a super cheap book that has a lot of really amazing explanations for stuff with relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory.


u/QWERTY_REVEALED · 1 pointr/AskScienceDiscussion

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene did a pretty good job of covering high-level physics concepts up through string theory.

u/cowmoo · 1 pointr/threebodyproblem

In a different vein, I heard that there is a popular science nonfiction Chinese book, called "The Physics of the Three Body Problem Universe,"

I was keen to order it but realized that I probably can't understand it.

But there are several excellent pop-sci books on String Theory, Big Bang that I would have considered abstract, obtuse prior to reading Three Body Problem,




u/audiophilistine · 1 pointr/askscience

One of the best explanations for relativity I've come across is from Brian Greene in "The Elegant Universe," a book I highly recommend if you're interested in physics without having to learn all the math involved. Be warned, the material is dense. Took me about four months to read and digest.

Basically, space and time are different expressions for the same concept, space-time, much like magnetism and electricity are different expressions for the same force, electro-magnetism. Greene says we're always travelling at light speed. When standing in place, we're moving at light speed through time. When we move through space at any speed we're moving a corresponding amount slower through time. The faster we move through space the slower we move through time up until we reach light speed, at which point we've completely stopped moving through time.

So, when travelling at any significant fraction of light speed, our relative speed through time is slower than that of someone standing still. It's kind of a see-saw effect where increasing one side decreases the other side of the equation. This is so fun to think about because it's mind bending and totally counter-intuitive.

u/SpacedOutKarmanaut · 1 pointr/trees

To put this in a slightly different light than other commenters, there's one simple answer: the laws of physics should work no matter what you're doing (this is what Einstein focused on). You can't go exactly the speed of light, but even if you blasted off from Earth at 0.999c (very close to it!) your spaceships headlights, disco ball, and christmas light would still beam light away from you at the speed of light. Whaaat? Why?

Speed and velocity are relative. In this case, your ship is moving relative to Earth, and off to Neptune or some dank, misty moon like Titan. If you're in empty space and a spaceship goes floating by, it's difficult to tell if she's the one whizzing past, or you. Inside you're own ship, like when you're in a smoothly cruising car, it's almost like you're standing still. Hence, when you turn on a flashlight, or your headlights, they work just like normal and the light travels at the speed of light. If this seems weird - it is a bit weird! It's where all the cool stuff that happens in relativity comes from (twin paradox time dilation, E= mc^2). To learn more, I seriously recommend checking out shows like Cosmos or books like "The Elegant Universe." Hopefully they will blow your mind like they did mine. :)

u/TotallyNotAFrog · 1 pointr/Physics

Anything by Brian Greene. His books are aimed at laypeople, and he explains the ideas behind quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory without any mathematics whatsoever.

I would recommend you start with The Elegant Universe and then The Fabric of the Cosmos. These books are easier to follow than Brief History of Time, and explain all of the interesting aspects of physics such as time dilation, warping of space, particles being waves, etc.

u/pixel_fcker · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

Excellent post. If any of you are still having trouble with the idea, then for a lengthier version of this explanation complete with diagrams, I highly suggest picking up The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene:

u/reasonosaur · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was just starting to get interested in philosophy. I took an unusual route, but I can sure recommend some good books that will change how you think!

  • This might be above your level, but Evolutionaries by Carter Phipps will certainly change the way you look at the world! Many concepts are explored. It's a great jumping off point to any of the books he references.

  • While this is more pop-philosophy, Richard Brodie's Virus of the Mind is great for your age level. Highly recommended!

  • I'm a huge fan of Nietzsche, and his Beyond Good and Evil is profound and influential. It can make you question some of your most basic assumptions.

  • More science-y but The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene is truly an amazing book that demonstrates just how strange and non-intuitive the universe really is. Natural philosophy at its finest.
u/DrunkPlanck · 1 pointr/IWantToLearn

Apart from that you can also work your way through textbooks, such as Molecular Quantum Mechanics, read popular publications such as A Brief history of time or The Elegant Universe (haven't read those unfortunately).

You can also visit the subreddit /r/Physics, to be up to date, ask questions and such, or even visit 4Chans /sci/ which gives you access to a large science and math guide.