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Brian Greene - Biographical Profile

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Brian Greene - Biographical Profile

Brian Greene, theoretical physicist and bestselling author

General Information:

Birthdate: February 9, 1963

Nationality: American (born in New York City)

Spouse: Tracy Day

Educational Background:

Brian Greene attended Harvard University for his bachelor's degree, then went on to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, earning his Ph.D. in 1987. He worked on the physics faculty of Cornell University from 1990 to 1995, before becoming a full professor at Columbia University in 1996. Greene is co-director of Columbia's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics (ISCAP) and spends much of his current time working on applying string theory to cosmological questions.

Research Emphasis:

The work that has earned Brian Greene the most attention has been his research into string theory. Specifically, Greene's work focused on understanding the way the extra dimensions of string theory needed to curl up for the theory to be consistent with our current models of the universe. These methods of curling up the extra dimensions usually take the form of Calabi-Yau manifolds.

Popular Books on Physics:

Brian Greene rose to prominence among the general public with his 1999 book The Elegant Universe, which is largely credited with introducing the general public to the concepts at the heart of string theory. In the years since then, he has written even more book aimed at a general audience:
  • The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (1999) - This book focused on explaining the key concepts of string theory to the general public (though it was not the first book to have done so, with many of the same concepts having been covered in Hyperspace by Michio Kaku several years earlier). It became a bestseller and was the foundation for the Peabody Award-winning 2003 PBS NOVA documentary of the same name.
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (2005) - In this book, Greene focuses on exploring the way physicists understand space and time, or spacetime. Though this book also discusses string theory, the emphasis is on understanding the way these concepts are presently understood through quantum physics and general relativity.
  • Icarus at the Edge of Time (2008) - This young adult book uses images from the Hubble Space Telescope to relate the ancient Greek Icarus myth as a futuristic science fiction tale involving a black hole.
  • The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (2011) - In this book, Greene explores in depth the various ways that the concept of a multiverse comes up in physics.

Popularizing Science:

In addition to his books, Brian Greene caught the imagination of the general public through his PBS NOVA documentary The Elegant Universe, based upon his book of the same name. This series won a 2003 Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence. He went on to organize the World Science Festival, an annual science festival that began in 2008. In 2011, he worked with PBS NOVA to bring a four-part series, The Fabric of the Cosmos, to public television as well. This series also includes an episode devoted to the idea of the multiverse, which was the theme of his 2011 book The Hidden Reality.

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