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Her Name is Ed Wilson

Thoughts, Anyone?

From an atom to an “event horizon.”

When I was a kid there were only three things I wanted: to be the fifth ninja turtle, to own a pet Tyrannosaurus, and to  have a Celestron telescope. Well, maybe four; I also wanted to marry Johnathan Taylor Thomas.

If I could choose one dream profession I would wish to be an astrophysicist. But because I know almost nothing about theoretical astronomy, I just settled with reading Brian Greene’s national bestselling book, The Elegant Universe: Hidden Dimensions, Superstrings, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory.  Most people probably scoff at anyone attempting to write a book about the cosmos, especially after theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. However, I read Greene’s book first and I admire his sincere yearning to take the most incomprehensible suppositions about our solar system and interpret them in a way without losing any of their wonder.

Now with that said, as a heads up for the technically inclined, he warns layman readers that he can’t  pull all the punches:

Although I avoid technical language and equations…the reader may need to pause now and then, to mull over a section here or to ponder and explanation there…

But don’t panic. Greene supplies copious amounts of endnotes, references, drawings, and even a glossary of scientific terms. The book is separated into five sections.  The first section delves into the fundamentals of string theory, including the two dueling schools of thought: advocates of Einstein’s general relativity vs. devotees of atomic/subatomic systems.  The second section explains time and motion in reference to how fast light travels through space. The third section dissects the idea of  contorting dimensions in relation to supersymmetry and string theory. The fourth section explains space expansion, quantum geometry, and black holes. Lastly, the fifth section is essentially trying to convince the reader why string theory is worth a damn.

So, basically its got it all, from muons to M-theory. If you have a question Brian’s answered it or at least he tried to.  It is a mighty feat and he does it masterfully. I graduated with a degree in International Affairs and although I found the book to be a bit brainy and scholastic (Who we are we kidding? This is the universe we’re talking about here!), the book was never altogether abstruse.

I’ve learned my lesson about writing long entries (see: no one reads them) so I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

Our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubles on the surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse….We  are all, each in our own way, seekers of the truth and we each long for an answer to why we are here….each generation stands firmly on the shoulders of the previous, bravely reaching for the peak.

So true Brian, so true.

-e.d.w.

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