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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Review: Hiding in the Mirror

Laurence Krauss wrote The Physics of Star Trek, which despite its lightweight nature, was good reading and accurate. This book, a non-technical treatise on string theory and superstring theory, is a good enough book for someone with very little understanding of Physics or Mathematics, but unfortunately, string theory and all of its variations are such a complex subject that I barely gained an understanding of what it was by the end of the book.

The first half of the book is about dimensionality, which includes one of the best explanations of Einstein's theory of relativity in layman's form that I have read. This part is easy going and a good refresher even for those of us who've covered the material before. The second half bogs down in attempts to explain Mathematical concepts in English, which of course is very hard, especially since string theory appears to be an entirely mathematical concept --- there has not been any successful attempts to prove it correct or wrong, which means that the theory has made no useful predictions. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not elegant mathematics, but it does mean that it's an incomplete story. I hope Krauss is around to explain the story when the Physicists finally figure it out one way or another.

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