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Hardcover The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality Book

ISBN: 0375412883

ISBN13: 9780375412882

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

From Brian Greene, one of the world's leading physicists, comes a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way. Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? Greene uses these questions to guide us toward modern science's...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

10 Stars--A Gem and a Gift

As someone who has taught high school and college level physics for close to 30 years, I can say with some degree of experience that this is, hands down, the clearest, most informative, and most exciting book on physics I've ever had the pleasure to encounter. About 5 years ago I would have given almost as high accolades to Green's first book, Elegant Universe. Now, however, Fabric of the Cosmos, in my opinion, has jumped ahead. Fabric of the Cosmos is very far from being a simplified version of The Elegant Universe, as someone in this bulletin board has said. Instead, Fabric of the Cosmos is so disarmingly clear and so cleverly crafted in its use of analogy and argument, that it does indeed present an easier read than The Elegant Universe. But the material covered in Fabric of the Cosmos is very different from Elegant, and most notably, the text dives head first into some of the trickiest, most absorbing, and far-reaching issues that physicists have struggled with for a very long time. Many of these difficult questions--is space real? what is the nature of quantum entanglement? why does time seem to go in a fixed direction? what happened at the very moment of creation? can string theory be tested? -- are avoided by mainstream physicists and too difficult to be taken on by most science journalists in anything but a superficial treatment. The highly crafted writing in this book, however, cuts through the forrest of complexity with such ease, that the reader who is not already well versed in physics, does not realize the gift he or she is given by a presentation that is clearer than I would have ever thought possible. In fact, the other day I was speaking with a physics professor colleague who has worked and lectured on some of the topics in this book for many years, and even he had to admit that he was going to use a number of Green's explanations in future lectures. I was also impressed that this book has no hype. If something is not fully understood, the book makes this clear; if there are competing points of view on something, the controversy is explored, not buried. And rather than having superstring theory as its main goal (as in Elegant Universe), here the structure of space and time is the main goal, something less speculative and in many ways more mind bending. I'd give it 10 stars if that were an option.

The One Book to Read

I loved The Elegant Universe.I loved The Fabric of the Cosmos even more.In showing the state of the art of unified theories, The Elegant Universe explained alot of physics with unsurpassed clarity. Yet, there were discoveries I had read something about in other books that The Elegant Universe did not discuss, and I longed for Brian Greene to bring his powers of explanation to these subjects too. (I even wrote him an email saying so).The Fabric of the Cosmos answers my longing in abundance.This book not only covers relativity but also the long debate about Mach's principle and what "space" means. It covers quantum mechanics, but goes further by taking on the debate regarding observers and measurment, and provides the clearest, most understandable discussion of quantum entanglement (the "EPR paradox) that I have ever seen in print or any other format. The chapters on cosmology are equally great, and the final sections bring the work on unification and string theory right up to the moment. I can't say this is an easy book, perhaps a little easier thanThe Elegant Universe, but definitely a challenge. It is worth it. By the end, the poetry of the universe is yours to behold.

The book I've been waiting for.

I happened by chance on The Elegant Universe two years ago during one of my "learn the newest" in physics stretches. I'd read many popularizations to that point, but none could hold a candle to The Elegant Universe. The chapters on relativity and quantum mechanics were, arguably, the clearest treatment of these subjects ever written, and that really says something since this subject has been written about endlessly. I knew little about string theory at the time but found Greene's encapsulation of the theory to be among the best popular science writing I've read. So I was so happy when I saw he had a new bookout. Having now finished it, I am even happier. It is a phenomenal successor to The Elegant Universe; in some waysI liked it even better. Greene's crystal clear and nevera dull moment prose are out in force, with his uncanny ability to anticipate the questions the reader (or at leastthis reader) will have regarding material one page, and answer them on the next. There were so many times I asked myself "what about this"? only to find it answered a paragraph later. The material is also carefully arranged so that you can read it along three different strands, corresponding to different levels of background/interest. In the first strand, you can read the book, skipping the sections which Greene has indicated to be more difficult. In the second strand, you can read all sections, as I did, gaining an even greater appreciation of the ideas and related tricky points. In the third strand you can also read the endnotes which contain very detailed versions of the material covered in the main book, sometimes making use of equations. What I especially liked about The Fabric of the Cosmos, was the choice of subjects. Space and time are less esotericthan string theory, and the theme of discussing breakthroughsnot just for the sake of science but, of equal importance, to assess their relevancefor our intuition about reality, was both fresh and thrilling.The Fabric of the Cosmos covers an astonishing amount of new material, with the same in-a-class-by-itselflevel of writing of The Elegant Universe. When you finish, the world looks different. How many books can you say that about? For me, not many.

Record Setting

I've never written a review before, but I have enjoyed browsing reader's comments on books I read or teach from. While reading the review that claims this new book to be a "dumbing down" of The Elegant Universe, and to have "no new material", I felt I had to set the record straight. For the record: I teach Physics for Poets class in a local community college, and use The Elegant Universe as one of our books. Next year I will add Fabric of the Cosmos to the syllabus since it has at least 80% new material, and the overlap with The Elegant Universe is done in a new way that I have not seen in any other book, The Elegant Universe or otherwise. The reviewer says that "200 pages are spent reviewing Newton and Einstein" which is a factual error. It is just over 50 pages, and a fascinating new angle known as Mach's principle is used.For the reviewer to say that "spooky action at a distance" is in Elegant, is also a factual error. He must be thinking of another book. This (huge) subject, entanglement, was not covered in the Elegant Universe as I know for sure, since in the past I have had to assign other books for these ideas. I might add that the discussion of entanglement in Fabric goes far ahead of any other since it proves Bell's theorem, without math! I didn't think that was possible! The main theme of The Arrow of Time which runs through Fabric, is not touched on at all in Elegant, nor are the questions of whether space and time are real or just ideas.If someone is looking for a direct sequel to Elegent, this is not that book. Fabric is a monumental work of its own and should be read as such.For other suggested readings: Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps, Janna Levin's How the Universe Got its Spots.


This is a fantastic discussion of the tough questions of physics and a meditation on their meaning for our take on reality. It is not a rewriting or dumbingdown of The Elegant Universe, as one reviewer has claimed. (Are we reading the same book?) After preparing things with an overview of relativity (done in a fresh way by focusing on "Mach's principle") and quantum mechanics, the book takes on realms not touched in The Elegant Universe. The discussion of entanglement is both entertaining and in-depth, and I can say the same for the question of where the arrow time comes from (answer: the big bang), where our sense that time flows comes from (answer: an illusion), how the universe may have begun (answer: with a big bang from inflation driven by a higgs field) and what it means for two objects to be separated by space (answer: sometimes not much, because of quantum mechanics). The treatment of string theory is less involved than in The Elegant Universe, a sensible thing since string theory's role in this book is to provide a more complete cosmological theory and to suggest what the microscopic particles makeing up space and time are. The one drawback for some people may be that this book takes on the issues that many physicists choose not to look at (such as quantum measurement problem) because they don't change predictions. If you want to know what physics means for our world, and WHY physics is important beyond explaining experiments, then these treatments are essential, and greatreading too. This book that is unsurpassed in its depthand readability.
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