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The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality (Penguin Press Science) [Paperback]

Brian Greene
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Feb 2005 Penguin Press Science

From the bestselling author of The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos takes us on an irresistible and revelatory journey through the biggest of the big questions.

What is reality? Could we exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? What are the limits of the universe?

Brian Greene has made the mysteries of space and time accessible to millions with his acclaimed writings and award-winning TV series. Now he reveals a world more beautiful and bizarre than we could have imagined, where 'dark matter' reigns, space warps and wiggles through eleven dimensions, minute particles dance, fizz and teleport across vast distances, everything is made of vibrating strings and, like an ant on a lily-pad, we may be floating on a sliver of spacetime.

Revealing new layers of reality that lie just beneath the surface of our everyday lives, this grand tour of the universe will make you look at the world in a completely new way.

'A must-read'
  Sunday Times

'Greene takes us to the limits of space and time'

'Sends the reader's imagination hurtling through the universe on an astonishing ride'
  The New York Times

Brian Greene is well known to many fans as a populariser of theoretical physics. He is the author of the bestselling books about string theory, The Elegant Universe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he has taught at both Harvard and Cornell and has been Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University since 1996.

Frequently Bought Together

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality (Penguin Press Science) + The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory + The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos
Price For All Three: 23.07

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141011114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141011110
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos with its questions about the limits of space and time and the texture of reality certainly looks a bit daunting to the uninitiated. Cosmic ripples, 11 dimensions to the universe and string theory that is somehow connected to a "Theory of Everything" are all a bit alien if you never really got to grips with Newton, let alone Einstein. It might look very heavyweight, but Greene is an excellent communicator and what he's writing about is perhaps the greatest intellectual challenge we face.

There is no doubt that speculation about the nature of the heavens is very ancient. After centuries of thought "we still can only portray space and time as the most familiar of strangers". But enormous advances in understanding have been made especially over the last few decades. Whether we are high-flying city slickers or impoverished cattle-herders in the third world, speculation about space-time "takes on an almost mystical quality: we're considering the fate of the very things that dominate our sense of reality" according to Greene.

Over the last century we have become much better acquainted with previously hidden features of the Universe, especially thanks to Einstein. Greene summarises these as

"the slowing of time, the relativity of simultaneity, alternative slicings of spacetime, gravity as the warpings and curving of space and time, the probabilistic nature of reality, and long range entanglement were not on the list of things that even the best of the world's nineteenth-century physicists would have expected to find just around the corner."
And yet they are attested to by both experimental results and theoretical explanations. Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, is one of the foremost players in contemporary string theory and authored a bestselling book The Elegant Universe for which he won the Aventis Prize in 2000.

In The Fabric of the Cosmos Green avoids mathematical formulae, which can be an immediate turnoff for most general readers. Clearly he knows that visually we can deal with abstract and/or difficult concepts much better than when they are presented in words. Consequently, he uses a very clever selection of excellent and well designed illustrations to help get his ideas across. There is an excellent index, plenty of notes and suggestions for further reading, which will allow those more in the know to take matters further. And, there is a glossary for us ordinary mortals who need every now and again to check up on our understanding of things such as quarks, Higgs particles, braneworld scenario and M-theory. --Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'An astonishing ride. As a popularizer of exquisitely abstract science, he is both a skilled and kindly explicator' -- the New York Times

'I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It manages to be both challenging and entertaining: it is highly recommended' -- the Independent

'The Fabric of the Cosmos is a magnificent challenge to conventional ideas' -- Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
None of the books in my father's dusty old bookcase were forbidden. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quantum & Macro world explained, easily! 8 Dec 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unreservedly a fantastic book. With no math but brilliant analogies you get an understanding of: quantum mechanics, big-bang, inflation, space - time, branes, strings, relativity and much more and all wonderfully explained so that you can even get a hang on multi-dimensionality (11 space/time dimensions at that!).
And the thorny problem of light speed comes over well together with the nature of time's arrow. What more can you ask? You know I feel that mathematicians also need good analogies - how on earth can you get a grip on reality (even quantum reality) solely from equations?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best astrophysics book ever 7 Jun 2004
By A. Eastham VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're interested in the latest thinking of how the universe works and are prepared to put some serious mental effort into understanding it, you'll love this book.
It is written in extremely good english and explains some very difficult concepts superbly. I've read Hawkins' books and to be honest, Brian Greene puts him to shame in the quality of explanations.
It is a rare person who could so comprehensively understand all the subject matter of this book and also have sufficient mastery of the english language to write about it in an understandable way. He also manages to make it humerous in places, with the Simpsons making a few cameo appearances.
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86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blows Hawking out of the Water 14 Mar 2006
Just before reading this book I finished reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, and, though I found it fascinating, it left me feeling unsatisfied - too many topics touched upon and not expanded; too many questions I already had not touched upon at all. All the questions that book left me with, this book answered...and that was before I'd made it half-way. This book opened the world of physics up for me imaginatively, authoritatively and simply, clearly explaining concepts that should be far beyond me. I can not reccommend it enough. Just got to get my girlfriend interested now.
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great intro to physics 2 Jan 2006
After having read other (shorter) books on quantum physics etc. I decided to go for something a bit more dense. And what a book I chose! Not only does it cover the main areas of the history of the development of Physics, but it does so in an easy to understand way.
Greene uses lots of fun analogies and examples to put across complex ideas, making Physics an accessible subject for even an AS student (as I am). A great book to pick up facts to confuse your parents and even better- your teachers!
He soars from chapter to chapter, sweeping over Newton's laws, Einstein's theories of relativity, quantum theory, the quantum measurement problem, Higgs fields, string theory....the list goes on! And all very readable, with lots of subtle repetitions which are good for me as I usually read it at 11.30pm and my brain needs them in order to take it in!
A great book, I just cannot praise it enough! Buy it, buy it, buy it! if you are at all interested in science. I promise you you will not regret it!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and accessible 30 Oct 2005
This thought-provoking book has a wider perspective than Greene’s Elegant Universe, in which he expounded on String Theory. Fabric Of The Cosmos discusses the latest findings in theoretical physics in a style accessible to the ordinary reader.
The book contains a short summary of string theory. In brief, this theory proposes that particles like quarks, electrons et al. are not dots but minute filaments of vibrating energy that produce various particle properties. Superstring Theory reconciles general relativity with quantum mechanics in a single theory, making it a strong candidate for Einstein’s elusive Unified Theory.
The author explores the two most prominent concerns of modern physics: The historical development from Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Hawking, and the very latest theories that arose from this development.
Chapter 12 is basically a summary of The Elegant Universe, whilst the following two chapters explore the possibilities of experimentally testing the string theory.
A very important component of he book is the irreconcilable gap between the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. General relativity only hold valid for large objects, whilst quantum mechanics explains the subatomic composition of matter/energy. Since the two are incompatible, Greene maintains that a theory of quantum gravity must be developed, one that holds true for both small and large objects.
In the chapters Time And The Quantum and Entangling Space, the author looks at quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena of entanglement. He rejects Niels Bohr’s dualistic interpretation of the world of facts and the world of probabilities, postulating a hidden reality composed of 9 spatial dimensions and 1 of time.
Fabric Of The Cosmos is a most engaging investigation of cutting edge ideas in physics and cosmology. It is highly stimulating and far more readable than Elegant Universe. I highly recommend this brilliant work.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work and a challenging read 16 Oct 2004
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
In some respects this book is an extension (and a substantial one) of physicist Brian Greene's well-received The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (1999) in which he attempted the very difficult task of explaining relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory to the educated layperson while keeping the mathematics in footnotes. Here he covers some of the same ground as he patiently and painstakingly illuminates some of the most important ideas in physics and cosmology, employing new ways to explain the nearly unexplainable.
His watchword is "reality" and his overarching idea is that reality is not as we intuitively think it is. (p. 5) This is one of the startling revelations from relativity and the quantum world: namely that our perceptions and concepts built up through evolutionary experience are NOT adequate to understand the world of the very small or the very large. The dual nature of the particle/wave is the most obvious example, and one that Greene examines at length. We have no way of intuitively appreciating the fact that elementary particles are not just particles but waves as well--actually probability waves. But there is also our notion of something and "nothing" that is being tested by modern physics. What appears to be empty space is in fact far from empty. Moreover, space itself has unsuspected qualities, as Greene demonstrates in his discussion of the postulated Higgs fields.
Particularly exciting was the way Greene makes inflation credible ("the universe could easily have expanded by a factor of 10 to the 30th, 10 to the 50th or 10 to the 100th or more" within a time frame "as short as ten to the minus 35th seconds" p.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Always worth reading, I am a fan of Mr Green.
Published 2 months ago by T. Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabric of the cosmos
This book is truly excellent!
The ability of Brian Greene to express the amazing mysteries of Physics and the Cosmos is the sine qua non of articulation! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr. Pj McKenna
3.0 out of 5 stars Very long and confusing (and quite boring)
The universe is a wonderful place all these very clever scientists keep telling us. Yes that's true, but please stop writing boringly written tomes trying to explain your crackpot... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bagpuss
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book for those interested in weirdness of the universe
Exceptionally well written book that makes some very tricky concepts surprisingly easy to grasp. Better than Stephen Hawking and, IMO, Brian Cox too. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Clive369
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and fascinating
Brian Greene is a wonderful writer about our amazing universe, losing nothing of the awe in comprehensible scientific exdplanations. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jenny Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall...great!
Overall this is a great book. It is very informative and Greene does a great job of teaching some of physics most important subjects to a wide array of people with varying levels... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Adam Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
The first half was brilliant, but don't buy for Kindle. None of the essential diagrams displayed clearly on the kindle. Read more
Published 12 months ago by kelvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!!
A well written text covering the basics of the current major areas of Physics such as General and Special relativity, Quantum physics and String Theory to name a few. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Steven Rushton
5.0 out of 5 stars really great interesting book
Fantastic and amazing concepts explained in an interesting and fun way. Quite an achievement considering the complex issues discussed. I loved it
Published 13 months ago by M Harnett
5.0 out of 5 stars really interesting
I bought this book for background reading because I am interested in studying physics at University and this book was at exactly the right level.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. S. P. Edwards
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