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String Theory For Dummies

ISBN: 978-0-470-59584-8
384 pages
October 2009
String Theory For Dummies (0470595841) cover image
  • The basic concepts of this controversial theory

  • How string theory builds on physics concepts

  • The different viewpoints in the field

  • String theory's physical implications

Your plain-English guide to this complex scientific theory

String theory is one of the most complicated sciences being explored today. Not to worry though! This informative guide clearly explains the basics of this hot topic, discusses the theory's hypotheses and predictions, and explores its curious implications. It also presents the critical viewpoints in opposition to string theory so you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Understand the "theory of everything" — grasp the key concepts and importance of the theory, and learn why scientists are so excited about finding a theory of quantum gravity

  • It all comes down to physics — discover how string theory is built upon the major scientific developments of the early 20th century

  • Building the theory — trace the creation and development of string theory, discover its predictions, and see whether accurate conclusions can be made

  • Take string theory for a spin — explore the core issue of extra dimensions, the implications for cosmology, and how string theory could explain certain properties of our universe

  • Boldly go where no one has gone — see what string theory has to say about possible parallel universes, the origin and fate of our universe, and the potential for time travel

  • Hear from the critics — listen in on the heated debates about string theory and weigh the alternatives being offered

Open the book and find:

  • The questions string theory attempts to answer

  • Easy-to-follow examples

  • Explanations of Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory, and particle physics

  • The successes and failures of string theory

  • Fascinating bits of string theory including strings and branes

  • Ways that string theory can be tested

  • Discussions of loop quantum gravity and other possible alternative theories of gravity

  • How the theory may relate to cosmic mysteries, from the origin of matter to black holes

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Part I: Introducing String Theory.

Chapter 1: So What Is String Theory Anyway?

Chapter 2: The Physics Road Dead Ends at Quantum Gravity.

Chapter 3: Accomplishments and Failures of String Theory.

Part II: The Physics Upon Which String Theory Is Built.

Chapter 4: Putting String Theory in Context: Understanding the Method of Science.

Chapter 5: What You Must Know about Classical Physics.

Chapter 6: Revolutionizing Space and Time: Einstein’s Relativity.

Chapter 7: Brushing Up on Quantum Theory Basics.

Chapter 8: The Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Chapter 9: Physics in Space: Considering Cosmology and Astrophysics.

Part III: Building String Theory: A Theory of Everything.

Chapter 10: Early Strings and Superstrings: Unearthing the Theory’s Beginnings.

Chapter 11: M-Theory and Beyond: Bringing String Theory Together.

Chapter 12: Putting String Theory to the Test.

Part IV: The Unseen Cosmos: String Theory On the Boundaries of Knowledge.

Chapter 13: Making Space for Extra Dimensions.

Chapter 14: Our Universe — String Theory, Cosmology, and Astrophysics.

Chapter 15: Parallel Universes: Maybe You Can Be Two Places at Once.

Chapter 16: Have Time, Will Travel.

Part V: What the Other Guys Say: Criticisms and Alternatives.

Chapter 17: Taking a Closer Look at the String Theory Controversy.

Chapter 18: Loop Quantum Gravity: String Theory’s Biggest Competitor.

Chapter 19: Considering Other Ways to Explain the Universe.

Part VI: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 20: Ten Questions a Theory of Everything Should (Ideally) Answer.

Chapter 21: Ten Notable String Theorists.


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Andrew Zimmerman Jones received his physics degree and graduated with honors from Wabash College, where he earned the Harold Q. Fuller Prize in Physics. He is the Physics Guide for the New York Times' Web site. Daniel Robbins received his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago and currently studies string theory and its implications at Texas A&M University.
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