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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of its kind, 6 Feb. 2003
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This review is from: The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (Paperback)
The problem with "A Brief History of Time" was its lack of illustration, making it incomprehensible to the layperson. The problem with "The Universe in a Nutshell" is that it is a triumph of style over substance and is nothing but illustration, leaving no meat and potatoes for those with a keen interest in the subject. The Elegant Universe is a happy medium and works perfectly.
String theory is a very recent development (1990's) and is thus still in its infancy. It has, however, galvanised the physics community into action because it is beginning to reolve paradoxes which came from two previous theories. Unfortunately, it is incredibly esoteric, and a popular science author has to commicate in metaphors, citing examples which fall within the comprehension of those of us without PhD's. Brian Greene accomplishes this brilliantly.
This book is essentially a guided tour of the development of cosmology in the last century. Although focussing on string theory, it also manages to explain relativity, and the even more bizarre quantum mechanics. Illustrations are perfectly proportioned with the text: one will find a picture having thought "if only there was a picture to explain that.." and the illustrations themselves are concise and rather artistic. Concepts are explained in excellent metaphorical situations and there are appendices for experts in the field.
Although not for the layperson, TEU is both an accessible and substantial introduction to an exciting new breed of physics.
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