The Elegant Universe
full title · The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
author · Brian Greene
type of work · Nonfiction; popular science
genre · Science; physics
language · English
time and place written · New York City; 1990s
date of first publication · 1999; new preface added in 2003
narrator · Brian Greene
point of view · Greene discusses his personal involvement in string theory research in the first person. He employs the third person to describe other physicists’ contributions. Occasionally, when inviting the reader to imagine a difficult scenario, Greene uses the second person.
tone · This book was written for general audiences, and Greene tries to keep his explanations simple and straightforward at all times. From time to time, however, the explanations become detailed and technical.
tense · Present. When describing scientific innovations of earlier times, Greene employs the past tense, and when describing his hopes for the future of string theory, he employs the future tense.
setting (time) · From the creation of the universe 17 billion years ago through 2003
setting (place) · Greene investigates the fabric of space in its smallest and largest dimensions, from the most distant galaxy to the tiniest subatomic particle
major conflict · A fundamental incompatibility exists between Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics
themes · The shortcomings of intuition; elegance; Theory of Everything; theory versus experiment; cosmological uncertainty
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!