Theory discussed by renowned physicist

Dr. Brian Greene, author of two best-selling books about string theory, visited St. John’s to discuss The Elegant Universe, his current best-selling book.

Greene, a math and physics professor at Columbia University, is one of the world’s foremost string theorists.

During his April 4 visit, he explained his ideas on string theory, a model of fundamental physics that is the basis of the Standard Model of particle physics, an approach believed to give a unified theory.

Albert Einstein’s contributions to different theories and physics has had a dramatic impact on how people think of things, Greene said, and it inspired him to write The Elegant Universe.

In his book, Greene discusses ways to figure out the truth about how the universe works. It is an examination of the very nature of matter, covering subjects such as spacetime, cosmology, origins and unification, and including an exploration into reality and the imagination.

Greene described string theory not as a proven theory, but cutting edge ideas not yet tested by theory.

“The theory is starting to make progress toward some compelling answers,” he said.

Students and alumni who attended the lecture were impressed by the physicist’s ideas. Marillac Auditorium, where the lecture took place, was filled with very few empty seats left in the audience.

“I think that it is wonderful that a scientist of Greene’s caliber and popularity could be brought to St. John’s,” said Lisa Gotimer-Strolla, a junior physics major. “His lecture helped illuminate a very bizzare, but utterly beautiful theory to students, faculty and alumni alike.”

Greene’s visit presented the University community with a unique opportunity to learn a field that is often shrouded in confusion.

“Students in particular benefit learning about a field which may not be their own, but pushes for answers to fundamental questions nonetheless,” Gotimer-Strolla said. “The university experience is meant to force students to get away from their comfort zones, and really discover how it is they look at their world. Dr. Greene’s lecture provided an opportunity for us to re-examine our views.”