The Elegant Universe

The Elegant Universe

2003, Science  -    -  Playlist 103 Comments
8.05
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Ratings: 8.05/10 from 76 users.

Nova - The Elegant UniverseAdapted from a provocative book by Brian Greene, this deeply engrossing documentary -- which originally aired on PBS's NOVA in three parts -- attempts to explain the controversial string theory, a complicated scientific proposal that, in short, posits a single explanation for many of the universe's mysteries. As affable an egghead as you're likely to find, Greene engages an array of physicists in his examination of string theory, which in part blends Einstein's theory of relativity with the complex laws governing quantum mechanics. Although mind-numbing technical terms are kept to a minimum, those of us not conversant with advanced physics might feel a bit lost at times.

Still, the subject is undeniably fascinating, and some of the conclusions are nothing short of mind-blowing: a reasoned, professional discussion of a universe encompassing 11 separate dimensions certainly calls Johnny Carson's "I did not know that" to mind.

In some ways reminiscent of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, The Elegant Universe is even tougher to get a handle on. But the effort will prove rewarding, especially when you're looking for a way to melt the ice at cocktail parties.

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Stone-Age-Raccoon
Stone-Age-Raccoon
5 years ago

That dog has a much better chance of understanding that math than I do.

Jamo
Jamo
6 years ago

M could stand for five theories because of five corners if you look at letter M.

Pie
Pie
8 years ago

I have a question. Is the discovery of gravitational waves this year making string theory is just wrong? I was just wondering about it right now in bed at 3 o'clock at night lol

meow
meow
8 years ago

need new link plox. PBS removed it from youtube :'<

hossaingoni
hossaingoni
9 years ago

you have make a excellent documentary with excellent content. you have used the content properly. i love your documentary very much and continue your work.

Dp Jaysiah Doherty
Dp Jaysiah Doherty
9 years ago

Never going to see to a Cello the same again

ROMO
ROMO
10 years ago

great content, horrendous cheesy delivery though ! loose the frills

Oat Cakes
Oat Cakes
10 years ago

Can I just say, Brian Greene is super adorable.

Cristina R
Cristina R
10 years ago

.. I thought people were overreacting about the flashing images, this never happened to me before but I couldn't watch it at all

Dave
Dave
10 years ago

built into the nature of the universe is the evolution of the universe. We are here because it is happening. Just because you don't understand something... does not make it wrong. Look deeper and struggle harder and see more...

awful_truth
awful_truth
10 years ago

A great documentary for expressing to the layman the nature of physics, it's history, and and the possible implications for questions that we may never be able to answer.

ChefBryn
ChefBryn
10 years ago

Why is American science programs so dumbed down with all the graphics and silly imagery ?
I couldn't last go beyond 5 minutes

Johntechwriter
Johntechwriter
11 years ago

Quoting Johnny Carson in 2013?
Suggesting you will find this documentary rewarding "when you’re looking for a way to melt the ice at cocktail parties. . . ."?
Who writes these descriptions, anyway?

Krzysztof Szpilovsky Rokita
Krzysztof Szpilovsky Rokita
11 years ago

I have a funny feeling that additional six + 1 dimensions required by the M theory have something in common with theory called 'six degrees of separation' (another documentary on this website). six degrees shows how nature isn't really random. If strings do exist and naturally would be part of reality, number 6 in 2 theories I feel is somehow connected. Not really scientific explanation, just a feeling :)

mahonhouse
mahonhouse
12 years ago

so sick of hearing about the patent office.

Nikolina Bratchkova
Nikolina Bratchkova
12 years ago

I was reading the book, when I came across this documentary. It gives valuable visualizations without which I could not hope to grasp such complex concepts. Fascinating!

Megan Attrill
Megan Attrill
12 years ago

Oh god, not another documentary ruined with this shitty style of narration.. *puke*

Duncan Koebrich
Duncan Koebrich
12 years ago

"In some ways reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series"? How do you figure, documentary gister? Cosmos was a journey with a pace marching to a different cadence...a smoother, pleasant presentation that assumes the viewer has the intelligence to appreciate the material without flashy, exciting passion-inspiring tactics to hold his/her attention. My love of Cosmos is such that I'm put off by poor comparisons. That's not to say that this is a poor documentary, I'm inclined to mention that I did enjoy it, just a poor comparison.

Doc
Doc
13 years ago

All right they did mention it, sorry

Doc
Doc
13 years ago

How old is this documentary? Because Fermilab is by far NOT the best hope of finding out evidence of this stuff, compared to the LHC at CERN, the latter of which has been around for a long time.

college student
college student
13 years ago

if i had a professor like brian g in my college for phisics., belive me.. i would be a 2 or 3 einstein. you can understand him so perfect even with those dificult terms. Tnx professor B.. keep up the good work. i have been folloing your theories. 2 thumbs up-

Viewer
Viewer
13 years ago

Very good site, very good films!

Kasking
Kasking
13 years ago

I have heard, and don't remember if this documentary states this, that strings on the large end of the spectrum (i.e. universe in size) have been likened to branes (membranes) similar to vocal cords, and their interaction/collision with each other, creates "big bangs." My question for those better educated in current String Theory, "Is this an appropriate analogy?" In other words, Vocal Chord like "strings" creating multiple big bangs and we just happen to be a result of one of them?

emanuel
emanuel
13 years ago

These kinds of topics are very interesting and as I lay in bed at night spend much time thinking about them..But as of now they are too theoretical for what im after.

Cant wait for 2016 with the projected completion of a new larger telescope dwarfing our current Hubble.

Achems Razor
Achems Razor
13 years ago

@doc-fan:

I know it is all weird stuff. "String theory", think of lines, lines everywhere, that have there own vibrations similar to say a guitar string, one note represents a vibration that coalesces the atoms that are flickering in and out of existence everywhere, and holds them steady to form the reality that you see, Another note hold atoms steady to form a different reality, and so one.
And all the realities are co-existing simultaneously, nano-meters apart from each other.

Can't think of any simpler way to describe this.

doc-fan
doc-fan
13 years ago

I just don't understand how branes' can be so thin as piece of paper (may be just illustrated concept is just messing me up) and yet stars are seen to be over 14.8 billion years in each direction and still traavel. This have been boggling my mind ever since I have watched first documentary about brane concept. Anyone could point me in direction in which I could have further look on this specific topic? I appreciate any help.

tru
tru
13 years ago

this site rocks....

Ashish
Ashish
13 years ago

@ Buddhsit

I think you're right. I think what makes humans so different (in a good way), is that we share and retain information that is carried down through the ages. So we avoid treading over the same ground again and again. I believe the appropriate quote is "stand on the shoulders of giants."

But I must admit its nice to have people like Einstein and Newton who really push to boundaries of knowledge.

Buddhist
Buddhist
13 years ago

really enjoyed the discussion between Chris and Achems....... real good stuff! a lot of valid arguments! but both sides are ignoring a simple fact that non of present or past scientific disciplines have managed to produce evidence for any sort of inherency in any field.... observer is part of the equations in a "formless" dimension if you like...... therefore intentions and results are very similar if indeed not the same....

@Ashish
humans are definitely capable of understanding even more complex info, but training is needed.... how can one understand something beyond concept with a conceptual mind?

personally i would urge many interested here to read up on emptiness concept within Buddhism before actually embarking on almost infinitely complex quantum physics mathematical calculations, just puts things into perspective!

Ashish
Ashish
13 years ago

Unfortunately its likely that humans are just not smart enough to understand the Universe entirely. This makes me sad :-(

Epicurean_Logic
Epicurean_Logic
14 years ago

Hey, makisig, i teach maths $ mechanics provided you live or are willing to travel to the London area? in order to exchange contact details we have to go through Vlatko the site creator.

If you dont live close by i will still give you my email and you can message me for help and advice.

There is nothing i like more than students who want to learn!

How does that sound?

makisig
makisig
14 years ago

This docu, together with ''Stephen Hawking, Master of the Universe'', and two other docu's featuring Alan Davis and Marcus du Sautoy, changed everything.I would never look at the world-and the universe-the same way again! Thanks to whoever established this site, because of you we are able to learn what are not taught at our sectarian schools. My friends we're so happy after watching this docu's. By the way, any of you guys know some physics teachers who might wanna help me learn more about the subject? If you do, pls. send me his email so that I can contact him whenever I have a question to ask.

Achems Razor
Achems Razor
14 years ago

@ John seals:

Yeh, am a romantic, offer all perspectives, you never know? by doing that, gives more generalized discussion and ideas that may some day be the spark of reasoning, that may form a concrete paradigm, proven by the scientific method.

After all, everything is basically an idea first, is it not??

John seals
John seals
14 years ago

Sorry, but I can't see this as legitimate science. If it makes no real world predictions that can be tested or measured then it is just an idea. Maybe it is a well developed idea but just an idea none the less. Maybe if they keep going with this they will find a way to make some real world predictions that can be observed and measured, then we will see if it is just fantasy or science. Sometimes I think that scientist, just like people on this site sometimes, kind of get off on the shock factor. In other words the more out their an idea the quicker they seem to gravitate toward it. Let's not get too full of ourselves with all this sci-fi jargon, remember what science really is. We are attempting to dispell the belief in the out landish not create our own.

P.s. Whoever it was that said we bend energy into matter by our collective consciousness is full of it.
Razor was that you? Come on now you know better. Let's not give ourselves god like powers. Even as a collective whole humanity has nothing to do with the way matter is formed. The laws of physics decide that. One could look at matter as being the equivalant of energy, since it can be converted into enrgy I suppose. Still seems an awfull romantic view of physics you have their Razor.

Amorbis
Amorbis
14 years ago

Even though my idea does not include other universes into the event I still believe that other universes exist. I just think that when two branes collide they create a tear in the brane. causing gravitational anomalies which would dissipate fairly quickly... although I believe that when a black hole is formed from a star collapsing in on its self, it too creates a tear, but because it is created from a collapsing mass, it does not get patched up. and i believe that a black whole creates a path to the in-between of universes.

Amorbis
Amorbis
14 years ago

after watching this for the third time along with other docs on the subject of M-theory, black holes, multiple universes, the big bang, and the universe its self, i have come up with my explanation of how the big band actually happened...

this is basing off the knowledge that dark matter repels other dark matter(I'm pretty sure that's what it does).

Dark matter and dark energy make up about 90-95% of the universe right? why is that? because it was already here when the big bang occurred... but since energy can't be created nor destroyed how can the big bang happen?

well I believe that there was a build up of dark energy and that build up caused a large amount of dark matter to become "attractive" to other bits of dark matter, thus causing a conglomeration of dark matter to build. Because dark matter it heavier than normal matter it would compress more at a smaller size than normal matter would, giving off more heat(or whatever dark matter would give off, lets call it Dark Heat).

The dark heat(which is a type of energy) would cause the dark energy around the conglomeration to move very quickly. and some of the energy would cause collisions inside the mass of dark matter. most of these collisions wouldn't be strong enough to brake the bond of the dark matter mass, but some(if the right strength) could cause the mass to revert to it's original state of pushing, but because of the immense pressure some f the dark matter is converted from dark matter to the matter we see around us now, and when the mass reverts back to the normal state of repulsion all of the normal matter trapped inside the mass is released at high velocity and at high temperature.

That is my current theory of how the big bang happened... although I am still working on the idea, that is pretty much what I think.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

@ Chris

String theory is still in its infancy just Like many other theories before it whom were being judged. People have said Without the ability to observe, a theory it is not reputable in science. When we have the technology to determine the outcome of these new theories, all whole list of new and outrageous theories will come into the picture.

Joe_nyc
Joe_nyc
14 years ago

Looks like someone finally cracked. ;) Don't worry, my son also needs a gentle whack on his head time to time. As long as your head ain't stuck in the sand.....LOL

Charles B.
Charles B.
14 years ago

Wow! Chris, you've convinced me! I've become an "Astringist" where I don't believe that "strings" exist. They cannot be proven (they are just a matter of philisophical faith) and based on the doc come in at least five different denominational theories that can't even get along, but then that can somehow be fixed with mirrors and saying they are all the same thing really without an explination of WHY they are all the same thing. Likewise, Stringists obviously believe in the miraculous breaking of physical laws where nothing is impossible, and that just can't be. (I saw that guy walk through that wall! What posh!)

Lastly, they believe in "Sparticles" and "Gavatons" which surely are just man-made superstitions and not real entities, to explain away thier misunderstandings of the natural world around us.

Yes indeed! I am a full fledged "Astringist" now and I shall not be swayed from that view. They mentioned the "finger prints" of strings possibly being found in the future (greatly expanded in the stars nonetheless). I'll believe the strings "handiwork" when I see it with my own eyes and a string comes down and introduces him or herself in person, thank you very much. ;-)

I feel sorry for all you "Stringees" out there! How can you believe in something so obviously rediculous and a man-made philosophy? Dare I say RELIGION (as it has no scientific method to EVER be proven or disproven)?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Well, maybe. In my heart I believe in all the pretty little strings, but I'll never let on to you guys. ;-)

Chris
Chris
14 years ago

@Achems:

Well, yes I agree with your comment regarding philosophy and science. In fact, "science" by observation or experimentation usually starts with a philosophical view regarding an outcome anticipated logically through the scientific method. My point was that philosophy without physical observations lacks a proper ground to take it into the realm of science theory where it can be tested or provide testable predictions.

I'm not the first to raise the objection that String Theory, while rich in mathematical equations lacks testable predictions or observable effects.

Further, many valid avenues of legitimate scientific research are quashed because they violate accepted scientific dogma (i.e.: philosophy).

Joe_nyc
Joe_nyc
14 years ago

Yeap! I am just gonna enjoy my beer.

Franck
Franck
14 years ago

YES ! Another view. Thank you. Yes for Plasma, Electromagnetism, Gravitons opposition to Gravity, my yin & yang.

Achems Razor
Achems Razor
14 years ago

@ Joe_nyc:

Good post. Is everything strictly in our minds? Is everything strictly a mind set? Is nothing really real?
These are unanswered questions. From way back, Eastern philosophy etc:

Achems Razor
Achems Razor
14 years ago

@ Chris:

Will welcome any scientific response on the topics we where discussing.

Looking forward to Prof. Chow's scientific discourse.

I must add though, Philosophy and science can sometimes find a home together.

Chris
Chris
14 years ago

I've been monitoring this thread with some interest and there are a few things I'd like to point out:
1. The "multiverse" started as a philosophical, not scientific, proposal. It was invented as an attempt to overcome the two (supposed) major problems of Big Bang theory; that is "What came before the big bang?" and "Why are the basic physical forces of nature, matter and energy, and the cosmological expansion balanced to such an unlikely fine degree, a degree not required by the laws of physics?"

The multiverse concept has many fatal problems: It does not address the concept of infinite regress. It does not address conflicts with laws of energy conservation or thermodynamics. It does not solve the problems it was supposed to solve. The multiverse is mostly a pet of mathematicians, philosophers, and others who do not know what to do with the origin singularity suggested by the big bang.

The multiverse concept cannot truly even be called a 'theory' because it makes NO useful or real world predictions that can be tested within the universe. A theory that cannot make predictions cannot be called a 'theory' within proper scientific usage of the word. Therefore, the multiverse is a religion.

2. For my second point, please refer to my above post on March 16th. Both string theory and most Quantum Mechanical theories require the existence of gravitons, which cannot co-exist with observed astronomical phenomena, effects, and within General Relativity, which for all its flaws, is still the strongest contender.

Did anyone else catch on to the 'carnival barker' style of Brian Green? All the special effects and repeating the same thing over and over. He's a very good salesman for String Theory: the theory of nothing, about nothing, and that proves nothing. String Theory is a mathematical wonderland with little basis in reality.

Are there any genuine post-doc physicists conducting current research on TDF that care to comment on this topic? A few days ago, I emailed Prof Chow, astrophysicist, UC Berkeley but no response as yet.

Franck
Franck
14 years ago

Time and our Conditioning. Interesting Joe NYU.

Joe_nyc
Joe_nyc
14 years ago

I think time is the problem. We are confined by our concept of linear time and are too conditioned to think everything with a beginning and an end and that we fail to see the other realities which are not bound by time.

In linear time, what happened 5 seconds ago only exists in our mind. If the reality blinks in and out of existence in light speed then was it ever real to begin with? Or is it infinite realities that are playing like a roll of film that isn't bound by time.

LOL at myself ;)

Franck
Franck
14 years ago

So when the "Membranous Universes" collide it produces "Bing Bangs" ? Within those same Universes or is it creating Universes adjacent to the ones that collide one another ?

Also, Is in it Theoretically possible that our Universe was created from another Dimension ? Intentionally ?

@AchemRazor, you're killing man with the "Collective Consciousness". You shouldn't mix Physics and LSD ;)

BBC
BBC
14 years ago

@Franck,

hahahaha. You solved this where? Achem made more sense to me then you, but you get an A for effort.

@Achem,
I am not sure i can agree with the rewinding of the camera film, showing that it all comes back to one piece of mass. Where did that mass come from, and if energy can not be created of destroyed, then that energy was all in that ball of mass. Achem, you said yourself the energy was in that ball of mass. There has to be an error in the analogy of the rewinding of the film. I can not accept the bang, does the string have to link with bang? Can string not stand on its own? I realize Hubble's scientific discovery is amazing, but to theorize the rewind back to a ball of mass with energy is as plausible as a God who spoke the universe into creation. What if it did not rewind back to a ball of dense mass? This is hurting my brain, i have no clue how you studied all this stuff. Good on you.

One more thought.
Energy is eternal and always existed? This makes more sense to me. So energy, and energy waves could possibly explain the multiple universes? But it does not explain matter. It looks like i have no choice but to accept the idea of rewinding the film all the way back to the ball of mass.

Franck
Franck
14 years ago

@BBC, Check my theory. No more problem, no more question, it's solved, no Gods. LOLOOL