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a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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The Fabric of the Cosmos

This morning on the bus, I finished reading Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. I was in a sciencey mood after finishing The God Delusion, and this had been at the bottom of a pile of books Ronwen bought last year.

The book could be subtitled 'Physics They Didn't Teach Us In High School'. What's the universe made of, how did it come to be, and how does it all work? It starts out with Newtonian physics, and then works its way through Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, and the concept of spacetime, entropy and the direction of time, to quantum physics, neuron-popping concepts like entanglement and uncertainty, and thence to the Universe: the big bang, inflationary cosmology, dark matter and energy, string and M-theory.

My head exploded on about every second page, but the book is well-written and lays out concepts using accessible analogies. The book left me in awe of two things: first, the physicists who've grappled with these fundamental questions of how our universe came to be and how it hangs together. What manner of genius did people like Einstein possess, to explore hunches and intuition, and to develop theories about the world we live in, in some cases theories that were only proven years or decades later?

Secondly, as with the God Delusion, the book left me with a renewed sense of amazement at the strangeness and beauty of the universe we live in, the reality that hums along just beyond our simple senses and constrained concepts of three-dimensional space, and time. For that, the book is well worth reading.

{2007.01.29 - 23:56}


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