The Straight Skinny on String (Theory)

Courtesy WGBH

Physicists' quest for the "theory of everything," now focused on string theory, poses unusual problems of imagination and visualization, even for specialists. Brian Greene '84 made a marked contribution toward public understanding in his book The Elegant Universe (which reviewer Alan Lightman called the "clearest and most comprehensive" popularization; see July-August 1999, page 25). Among the challenges: coming to terms with the six extra dimensions in Calabi-Yau spaces required by string theory, depicted above.

The image is from a Nova series based on Greene's book, airing on public television in late October and early November, and featuring Greene and Harvard physics professors Nima Arkani-Hamed, Peter Galison (a scientific historian, as well), and Cumrun Vafa, among others.


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