The Universe in the Rearview Mirror: How Hidden Symmetries Shape Reality

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“A great read… Goldberg is an excellent guide.”—Mario Livio, bestselling author of The Golden Ratio
 
Physicist Dave Goldberg speeds across space, time and everything in between showing that our elegant universe—from the Higgs boson to antimatter to the most massive group of galaxies—is shaped by hidden symmetries that have driven all our recent discoveries about the universe and all the ones to come.
 
Why is the sky dark at night? If there is anti-matter, can there be anti-people? Why are past, present, and future our only options? Saluting the brilliant but unsung female mathematician Emmy Noether as well as other giants of physics, Goldberg answers these questions and more, exuberantly demonstrating that symmetry is the big idea—and the key to what lies ahead.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

Dave Goldberg is an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Physics at Drexel University. He lives in Philadelphia.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Jul 11, 2013
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781101624296
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Cosmology
Science / Physics / Mathematical & Computational
Science / Physics / Quantum Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A concise and authoritative introduction to one of the central theories of modern physics

For a theory as genuinely elegant as the Standard Model—the current framework describing elementary particles and their forces—it can sometimes appear to students to be little more than a complicated collection of particles and ranked list of interactions. The Standard Model in a Nutshell provides a comprehensive and uncommonly accessible introduction to one of the most important subjects in modern physics, revealing why, despite initial appearances, the entire framework really is as elegant as physicists say.

Dave Goldberg uses a "just-in-time" approach to instruction that enables students to gradually develop a deep understanding of the Standard Model even if this is their first exposure to it. He covers everything from relativity, group theory, and relativistic quantum mechanics to the Higgs boson, unification schemes, and physics beyond the Standard Model. The book also looks at new avenues of research that could answer still-unresolved questions and features numerous worked examples, helpful illustrations, and more than 120 exercises.
Provides an essential introduction to the Standard Model for graduate students and advanced undergraduates across the physical sciencesRequires no more than an undergraduate-level exposure to quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and electromagnetismUses a "just-in-time" approach to topics such as group theory, relativity, classical fields, Feynman diagrams, and quantum field theoryCouched in a conversational tone to make reading and learning easierIdeal for a one-semester course or independent studyIncludes a wealth of examples, illustrations, and exercisesSolutions manual (available only to professors)

Does the universe embody beautiful ideas?

Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry—harmony, balance, proportion—and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe—and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.

Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, the ancient Greek who was the first to argue that “all things are number,” to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentiethcentury physics. Though the ancients weren’t right about everything, their ardent belief in the music of the spheres has proved true down to the quantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just how intertwined our ideas about beauty and art are with our scientific understanding of the cosmos.

Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. The equations for atoms and light are almost literally the same equations that govern musical instruments and sound; the subatomic particles that are responsible for most of our mass are determined by simple geometric symmetries. The universe itself, suggests Wilczek, seems to want to embody beautiful and elegant forms. Perhaps this force is the pure elegance of numbers, perhaps the work of a higher being, or somewhere between. Either way, we don’t depart from the infinite and infinitesimal after all; we’re profoundly connected to them, and we connect them. When we find that our sense of beauty is realized in the physical world, we are discovering something about the world, but also something about ourselves.

Gorgeously illustrated, A Beautiful Question is a mind-shifting book that braids the age-old quest for beauty and the age-old quest for truth into a thrilling synthesis. It is a dazzling and important work from one of our best thinkers, whose humor and infectious sense of wonder animate every page. Yes: The world is a work of art, and its deepest truths are ones we already feel, as if they were somehow written in our souls.
A new edition of the New York Times bestseller—now a three-part Nova special: a fascinating and thought-provoking journey through the mysteries of space, time, and matter. Now with a new preface (not in any other edition) that will review the enormous public reception of the relatively obscure string theory—made possible by this book and an increased number of adherents amongst physicists—The Elegant Universe "sets a standard that will be hard to beat" (New York Times Book Review). Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.

Today physicists and mathematicians throughout the world are feverishly working on one of the most ambitious theories ever proposed: superstring theory. String theory, as it is often called, is the key to the Unified Field Theory that eluded Einstein for more than thirty years. Finally, the century-old antagonism between the large and the small-General Relativity and Quantum Theory-is resolved. String theory proclaims that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe, from the frantic dancing of subatomic quarks to the majestic swirling of heavenly galaxies, are reflections of one grand physical principle and manifestations of one single entity: microscopically tiny vibrating loops of energy, a billionth of a billionth the size of an atom. In this brilliantly articulated and refreshingly clear book, Greene relates the scientific story and the human struggle behind twentieth-century physics' search for a theory of everything.

Through the masterful use of metaphor and analogy, The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated viscerally accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.
Two world-renowned scientists present an audacious new vision of the cosmos that “steals the thunder from the Big Bang theory.” —Wall Street Journal

The Big Bang theory—widely regarded as the leading explanation for the origin of the universe—posits that space and time sprang into being about 14 billion years ago in a hot, expanding fireball of nearly infinite density. Over the last three decades the theory has been repeatedly revised to address such issues as how galaxies and stars first formed and why the expansion of the universe is speeding up today. Furthermore, an explanation has yet to be found for what caused the Big Bang in the first place.

In Endless Universe, Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok, both distinguished theoretical physicists, present a bold new cosmology. Steinhardt and Turok “contend that what we think of as the moment of creation was simply part of an infinite cycle of titanic collisions between our universe and a parallel world” (Discover). They recount the remarkable developments in astronomy, particle physics, and superstring theory that form the basis for their groundbreaking “Cyclic Universe” theory. According to this theory, the Big Bang was not the beginning of time but the bridge to a past filled with endlessly repeating cycles of evolution, each accompanied by the creation of new matter and the formation of new galaxies, stars, and planets.

Endless Universe provides answers to longstanding problems with the Big Bang model, while offering a provocative new view of both the past and the future of the cosmos.  It is a “theory that could solve the cosmic mystery” (USA Today).
A concise and authoritative introduction to one of the central theories of modern physics

For a theory as genuinely elegant as the Standard Model—the current framework describing elementary particles and their forces—it can sometimes appear to students to be little more than a complicated collection of particles and ranked list of interactions. The Standard Model in a Nutshell provides a comprehensive and uncommonly accessible introduction to one of the most important subjects in modern physics, revealing why, despite initial appearances, the entire framework really is as elegant as physicists say.

Dave Goldberg uses a "just-in-time" approach to instruction that enables students to gradually develop a deep understanding of the Standard Model even if this is their first exposure to it. He covers everything from relativity, group theory, and relativistic quantum mechanics to the Higgs boson, unification schemes, and physics beyond the Standard Model. The book also looks at new avenues of research that could answer still-unresolved questions and features numerous worked examples, helpful illustrations, and more than 120 exercises.
Provides an essential introduction to the Standard Model for graduate students and advanced undergraduates across the physical sciencesRequires no more than an undergraduate-level exposure to quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and electromagnetismUses a "just-in-time" approach to topics such as group theory, relativity, classical fields, Feynman diagrams, and quantum field theoryCouched in a conversational tone to make reading and learning easierIdeal for a one-semester course or independent studyIncludes a wealth of examples, illustrations, and exercisesSolutions manual (available only to professors)

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