Elegant Universe is a three-hour physics mini series featuring the bestselling author and one of the leading experts in string theory – Brian Greene. And as you might have already guessed Elegant Universe mostly focuses on this exotic theory of mysterious strings. Brian Greene, who is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, does an amazing job of making this highly abstract theory more approachable and entertaining for casual viewers.
So what is this string theory? Long story short, it’s a candidate to the so called theory of everything. The main idea is that all around us is made of unimaginably small 1-dimensional strings. That is molecules, atoms and even elementary particles are made up of these tiny strings vibrating in a variety of ways. The great thing about this approach is that string theory seems like a good candidate to unite gravity and quantum mechanics, which makes it something that Einstein dreamed of creating all of his life – a theory of everything. Of course, there is a lot of criticism for the string theory in the scientific community as well. For starters, it predicts that our universe has 10 or 11 dimensions, which doesn’t seem very attractive. And the fact that there’s still basically no direct evidence for any predictions of the string theory for decades makes it very attractive to scepticism. On the brighter side, some future experiments might shed some light on the mystery of strings.
So Elegant Universe has 3 episodes, which discuss Einstein’s dream of creating the theory of everything, general relativity, quantum mechanics, higher dimensions and the history of string theory. Below you can find short descriptions of every episode and useful links.
1) The Elegant Universe: Einstein’s Dream – introduces string theory and shows how modern physics mostly ruled by two great theories of the 20th century – general relativity and quantum mechanics -reached its dead end as both theories are incompatible, yet required to describe the beginning of the universe, black holes and other important stuff.
2) The Elegant Universe: String’s the Thing – opens with a scene in a movie theater in which the history of the universe is run backwards to the big bang, the moment at which general relativity and quantum mechanics both come into play, and therefore the point at which our conventional model of reality breaks down. Then Greene describes the steps that led from a forgotten 200-year-old mathematical formula to the first glimmerings of strings—quivering strands of energy whose different vibrations give rise to quarks, electrons, photons, and all other elementary particles.”
3) The Elegant Universe: Welcome to the 11th Dimension – is mostly focused on some of the history of string theory. It tells the story how in 1995 Edward Witten of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, aided by others, revolutionized string theory by successfully uniting the five different versions into a single theory that is cryptically named “M-theory,” a development which required a total of eleven dimensions. But the new eleventh dimension is different from all the others, since it implies that strings can come in higher dimensional shapes called membranes, or “branes” for short. These have truly science-fiction-like qualities, as they can be as big as the universe and some think a collisions of such branes might have cause the big bang.
Category: Physics & Science Documentaries