The Fabric of the Cosmos, a four-hour documentary series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture of reality.
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Welcome to The Fabric of the Cosmos!
In this four-part documentary, renowned physicist and author Brian Greene takes us on a stunning journey through space and time. From the Big Bang to the end of the universe, he shows how everything in our cosmos is woven together like a gigantic cosmic fabric.
In each episode, Greene explores some of the most mind-boggling aspects of our universe, from quantum mechanics to wormholes to alternate universes. With stunning animations and demonstrations, he reveals how scientists are piecing together the ultimate story of our cosmos.
The Fabric of the Cosmos is an epic adventure that will change your understanding of space, time, and reality itself.
The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. It is an infinite extent of space and time, filled with an infinite number of stars and galaxies.
The fabric of space
Few phenomena are more mysterious than the nature of space. In this book, Brian Greene takes readers on a breathtaking tour of the universe to show how physicists have unraveled the nature of space. Greene first explains Einstein’s revolutionary theory of general relativity, which revealed that space is not a featureless void but a dynamic fabric that can be bent, twisted, and stretched. He goes on to describe the discovery that our universe is expanding and will continue to do so forever. Greene also explores recent efforts to quantum-mechanically unite general relativity with the other fundamental forces of nature. Finally, he shows how scientists are piecing together clues about the birth of the universe and its emergence into the magnificent cosmos we see today.
The Fabric of the Cosmos is not only an engaging and informative read, but also a stimulating introduction to some of the most exciting ideas in modern physics.
The structure of the cosmos
The cosmos is a vast and intricate web of matter and energy, held together by the forces of gravity and electromagnetism. In the simplest terms, the structure of the cosmos can be divided into three components:
-The visible universe: This is the part of the cosmos that we can see with our telescopes, containing all of the stars, galaxies, and other objects that emit light.
-The dark universe: This is the much larger part of the cosmos that we cannot see directly, because it does not emit any light. It includes all of the material in intergalactic space, as well as any objects that are completely dark (such as black holes).
-The unidentified universe: This is the small fraction of the cosmos that we have not been able to observe directly or identify.
How it all holds together
The Fabric of the Cosmos: How It All Holds Together is a book by physicist Brian Greene that explores how the universe is constructed and held together. Greene looks at the four forces that hold everything in the cosmos together: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force.
The four forces
In The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene offers a unified, elegantly simple theory that explains not only quantum physics and the birth of the universe but also gravity, dark matter, and all the large-scale structures of the cosmos.
Greene reveals a world far stranger and more wondrous than anything we could have imagined. He takes us to the frontiers of physics to show us how scientists are unraveling Nature’s deepest mysteries. These law-breakers—the discoverers of quantum mechanics, relativity, and string theory—transform our understanding of space, time, and matter. Greene shows how their insights will change everything, from the technologies we use to the way we think about our place in the universe.
In Greene’s hands, these masterpieces of human ingenuity become a doorway into an astonishingly beautiful realm that most of us have been unaware exists. The Fabric of the Cosmos will transform your understanding of what our world is made of—and how it all holds together.
The strong force
The strong force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, along with the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and gravity. It is responsible for holding together the nuclei of atoms, and it also allows protons to repel each other (which keeps them from all coming together in one big clump). The strong force gets its name because it is much stronger than any other force in nature.
The strong force is mediated by particles called gluons. When two quarks come close to each other, they exchange a gluon, which acts like a spring that pulls the quarks back together again. The stronger the force, the shorter the spring (and the more energetic the gluon).
The strong force is thought to be infinite in range, which means that it can act across any distance. However, its strength decreases rapidly with distance, so it only has a significant effect when quarks are very close to each other. This property is known as asymptotic freedom.
The weak force
The weak force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong force, electromagnetism and gravity. It is responsible for radioactive decay, such as the beta decay of atomic nuclei.
The weak force is mediated by the exchange of particles called W and Z bosons. It is a short-range force with a very short range indeed: around 10^-18 meters, or one millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a meter. This is about one thousandth the size of a proton.
The weak force is important because it violated something called charge parity symmetry, or CP symmetry. This symmetry says that the laws of physics should be the same if you swap all the particles for their antiparticles. Under this symmetry, the weak force should be exactly the same as the electromagnetic force. But it isn’t – it’s weaker by a factor of about 10^5.
This violation of CP symmetry is thought to be responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe – in other words, why there is more matter than antimatter. Without this asymmetry, the universe would have been annihilated shortly after it was created in the Big Bang.
The electromagnetic force
The electromagnetic force is one of the four fundamental forces and controls how electrically charged particles interact. It is by far the strongest of the four forces, holding together atoms and molecules, and it governs everything we see around us.
All charged particles exert a force on each other. This can be an attractive force, as between two electrons, or a repulsive force, as between an electron and a positron. The electromagnetic force is the combination of these two forces.
The strength of the attractive or repulsive force between two particles depends on how big their charges are and how far apart they are. The electromagnetic force gets weaker with distance in just the same way as gravity does. In fact, it turns out that the two forces are very similar: they are both inverse-square forces, which means that their strength is proportional to 1 over distance squared.
The gravitational force
In Newtonian gravity, the gravitational force between two masses is given by:
F = G m1 m2 / r2
where F is the force in newtons, m1 and m2 are the masses in kilograms, r is the distance between them in meters, and G is the gravitational constant. However, in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity is not a force between masses. Rather it is an effect of the warping of space and time in the presence of mass. The above equation for the gravitational force is only an approximation that is valid when the spacing between the masses (r) is much larger than their sizes (say, when r = 10 m and each mass has a radius of 1 cm). When objects get small enough (say, on a subatomic scale), Newton’s laws break down and have to be replaced by a more general theory that takes into account both special relativity (which govern subatomic particles) and general relativity (which govern massive objects).
As you have seen in this book, the fabric of the cosmos is a rich tapestry of many beautiful threads. Some threads, like space and time, are familiar to us. Others, like quantum entanglement and dark energy, are strange and exotic. But all these threads are woven together to form the seamless garment we call the universe.
In this final chapter, we will tie up a few loose ends and explore some of the deeper implications of what we have learned. We will see that although the universe appears to be infinitely big and old, there may be limits to both. We will also find that although the laws of nature appear to be fixed and absolute, they may actually be subject to change.
Ultimately, we will see that the fabric of the cosmos is not just a passive backdrop for our lives but an active participant in shaping them. The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.