The Elegant Universe

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

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