The Elegant Universe 01

This is the first part (of three) of the classic documentary The Elegant Universe, hosted by Brian Greene and based on his book, also entitled The Elegant Universe. I was first introduced to this book and series a few years ago when I took an awesome course in college with the ominous title "Metaphysical Necessity and the Final Laws of Physics"; if that name is not both intimidating and enticing, I don't know what is...

This first episode sets up the stage: it explains the history of the quest for unification, starting with Newton's theory of gravity, and moves to the limits of science, where each attempt made at unification has hitherto broken down, whether this be based on Maxwell's unification of electricity and magnetism, Einstein's gravitational theory of relativity or Neils Bohr's quantum mechanics.

Although Greene himself is a bit cheesy at times (you can't fault the guy, though... he's a physicist), he does a great job of explaining the intellectual history and the intellectual problems posed by each attempt at unification, explaining also how these difficulties can be resolved by different ways of testing (except for string theory, for good reason).

Finally, some important authorities in the scientific field are interviewed, such as Edward Witten, Sheldon Lee Glashow, James Gates, Jr., and Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg. As the first episode winds down, the question of whether string theory (which in some instances seems to be untestable, even in principle) can be considered science or metaphysics is raised...


I'll post the other episodes soon. Hope you liked it and learned something new. Leave some comments!
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