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The Elegant Universe

Part I: The Edge of Knowledge

Chapter 1: Tied Up with Strings

This is the introductory section, where the author, Brian Greene, examines the fundamentals of what is currently proven to be true by experimentation in the realm of modern physics. Green goes on to talk more about “The Basic Idea” of string theory. He describes how physicists are aspiring to reach the Theory of Everything, or T.O.E. Some suspect when string theory is completely understood that it might turn out to become the T.O.E.

Part II: The Dilemma of Space, Time, and Quanta

Chapter 2: Space, Time, and the Eye of the Beholder In the chapter, Greene describes how Albert Einstein solved the paradox about light. In the mid-1800’s James Maxwell succeeded in showing that light was actually an electromagnetic wave. From this he concluded that light always travels at the speed of light. It never slows down. Einstein asked the question: “What happens if we chase after a beam of light, at light speed?” From reasoning based on Newton’s laws of motion, one can assume that the light would appear stationary. But according to Maxwell’s theory, light cannot be stationary. Einstein solved this problem through his special theory of relativity. Greene continues with his explanations of the special theory of relativity.

Chapter 3: Of Warps and Ripples Green begins the chapter by describing “Newton’s View of Gravity” and continues by discussing the incompatibility of Newtonian Gravity and Special Relativity. The author also talks about how Einstein discovered the link between acceleration and the warping of space and time. Greene also discuses the basic aspects of General Relativity. He later points out how the two theories of relativity effect black holes, the big bang, and the expansion of space.

Chapter 4: Microscopic Weirdness This chapter describes, in detail, the workings of quantum mechanics. The author tells of how waves are effected by quantum mechanic. He also discusses the fact that electromagnetic radiation, or photons, are actually particles and waves. He continues to discuss how matter particles are also matter, but because of their h bar, is so small, the effects are not seen. Green concludes the quantum mechanics discussion by talking about the uncertainty principle.

Chapter 5: The need for a New Theory: General Relativity vs. Quantum Mechanics This chapter compares the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. It shows that relativity mainly concerns that microscopic world, while quantum mechanics deals with the microscopic world. But there are some occasions in which the two can actually contradict each, such as the area around a black hole. That is where superstring theory comes into play.

Part III: The Cosmic Symphony Chapter 6: Nothing but Music: The Essentials of Superstring Theory This chapter gives a history of where string theory originated and how it has developed over the years. The basic idea of string theory is that all matter is made up of one-dimensional strings. The specific vibrational pattern of the string determines which elementary particle is made from the string. The suspected length of a string 10-33 centimeters. The author also tells of how string theory can unite quantum mechanics and relativity. Brian Greene also describes how, with current technology string theory cannot be directly tested. He also describes how and what happens when strings interact.

Chapter 7: The “Super” in Superstrings In this chapter, Green discusses supersymmetry of string theory and its effect on it. The author also discusses the three non-gravitational forces: strong force, weak force, and electromagnetic force.

Chapter 8: More Dimensions a Than Meet the Eye Greene tells about how string theory allows for more than three spatial dimensions, nine to be exact. He describes how the three dimensions that we live in are extended dimensions and the six other spatial dimensions are curled-up dimensions that are to small for macroscopic objects to exist in. He also describes what these curled-up dimensions may look like. One possible shape is a Calabi-Yau shape.

Chapter 9: The Smoking Gun: Experimental Signatures The author explains the difficulties of proving string theory by experimentation. He also tells of some steps that might be taken to eventually prove string theory. He also explains that charges on certain particles and how some particles might actually have a fractions of a charge.

Part IV: String Theory and the Fabric of Space-time

Chapter 10: Quantum Geometry In this chapter, Greene explains quantum geometry, which is also known as Riemannian Geometry. This geometry fits is based upon the fact that space is not flat. Greene goes on by describing how this geometry fits in with and is affected by string theory. He also talks about wound strings or strings that have wrapped themselves around a dimension.

Chapter 11: Tearing the Fabric of Space Greene discusses how tearing of space might actually be possible with string theory. He tells of the possibilities of a tear occuring in the fabric of space. He also discusses what steps are being made by physicists to show what happens when a tear forms, such as wormholes. He also tells of his and his colleagues’ experience in proving tears to be possible.

Chapter 12: Beyond Strings: In Search of M-Theory In this chapter, Greene describes the five different types of string theory. He also tells of how these five types of string theory might make up parts of a whole theory called M-theory. He describes how current methods of approximation used by string theorists, will not be able to complete M-theory.

Chapter 13: Black Holes: A String/M-Theory Perspective This chapter compares black holes to elementary particles. The author describes how string theory makes this comparison possible. He also discusses how clack holes are not truly black. Black holes actually give off small amounts of light due to the affect of the intense gravity of a black hole on the surrounding space.

Chapter 14: Reflection on Cosmology Greene begins the chapter by telling of the current model of cosmology. He then goes on to describe string theory’s view on the big bang. He also discusses why strings theory allows for on three extended dimensions and how they formed from the big bang. He also gives the idea of a multiverse, or more than one universe. He describes how string theory supports this possibility.

Part V: Unification in the Twenty-First Century

Chapter 15: Prospects This chapter consists of the authors closing remarks. He talks about what physicists will be looking at in the future with string theory. He, once again, discusses whether or not technology will reach a point where string theory will be able to be tested.

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