The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces

Frank Wilczek, Author . Basic $26.95 (270p) ISBN 978-0-465-00321-1

Grand unification theories have long been a holy grail in science. Nobel Prize–winning physicist Wilczek, who has himself made notable contributions in this field, offers a survey of everything in the universe from quarks to black holes, elucidating the current scientific thinking on how matter and energy interact. The two main concepts are the “Grid” and the “Core.” Wilczek says the grid is a conceptual descendant of ether, that mysterious substance scientists once believed filled empty space. Now some physicists theorize that space is highly structured by the grid, which is the “primary ingredient of physical reality” and the substance from which all physical matter is formed. Core theory, on the other hand, provides a “theory of everything,” reconciling gravity with electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Wilczek reports a couple of problems with core theory: it’s not very elegant (scientists love elegance in their equations), and it hasn’t been reconciled with string theory. This book is not for most general readers, but will be a hit with hard-core science buffs. Photos, illus. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/07/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-14-104314-2
Open Ebook - 289 pages - 978-0-7867-3168-8
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-465-01895-6
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