Nova

The Elegant Universe: Einstein's Dream

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The Elegant Universe -- In the last few years, excitement has grown among scientists as they've pursued a revolutionary new approach to unifying nature's forces. To the uninitiated, string theory is totally mind-boggling. But physicist Brian Greene has a rare gift for conveying physics in vivid everyday images, a gift that has turned his recent book, The Elegant Universe, into a mighty bestseller. Now Greene brings his talent, youth and vitality to television for the first time in this special three-hour presentation. A highly innovative, Matrix-like production style makes the surreal world of string theory spring to life on the screen. The first hour introduces string theory and shows how modern physics -composed of two theories that are ferociously incompatible - reached an impasse: one theory, known as general relativity, is successful in describing big things like stars and galaxies; another, called quantum mechanics, is equally successful in describing small things like atoms and subatomic particles. Albert Einstein, the inventor of general relativity, dreamed of finding a single theory that would embrace all of nature's laws. But in his quest for the so- called unified theory, Einstein came up empty-handed, and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics has stymied all who' ve followed. That is, until the discovery of string theory.

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