Book Reviews 2006 (21)

A long stint in the Jury Assembly Room allowed me to finish the partially started next book on my queue.
The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene

The Fabric of the Cosmos : Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
By Brian Greene
Not exactly a sequel to his bestselling and spectacular The Elegant Universe, in Fabric, Brian takes on Cosmology, Quantum Physics, and just what “Reality” really is, or what we think it is.
It’s also written for a more general reader. Not only in expressing the speed of light in Miles per hour (which annoyed me), but the use of contemporary television characters to illustrate points in relativity and quantum theory. So, we have thought experiments involving Bart and Lisa, experiments set in Springfield, and Agents Scully and Mulder investigating Bell’s theorem. I became less annoyed with this over time, since the copious footnote section does in many cases expand out the simplifications in the text. It can be dry going, but Greene makes the subjects as accessible as I think you can, especially the more bizarre aspects of quantum mechanics.
Greene doesn’t spend as much time on his lifeblood of String Theory as you might think; he does extend the discussion of things a bit from Elegant Universe, but this book works independently of that earlier work, and reading both together only provides a small amount of overlap. (Greene even helpfully points out what section in Fabric is skippable by previous readers of Elegant Universe; I read it anyway).
I did enjoy the book after a bit of a rocky start, and it helped me get through a long day in the Jury Assembly Room, and illuminated me on some of the weirder corners of our knowledge. Can’t ask much more from a NF book.
Next up, we return to Terry Pratchett and the city of Ankh Morpork with Men at Arms.