The Elegant Universe, based on the book of the same name by Brian Greene, is a true colossus among recent documentary films. It addresses fundamental forces, strings and the M-theory, concepts in physics that are anything but easy to understand. A real enigma. But the witty and telegenic professor from Columbia University, Brian Greene, and the wonderful animation in the documentary get the ideas across even to the most ill-prepared spectator. And it is no wonder. As Greene himself put it, how can you resist the allure of a so-called “theory of everything”?
In the first episode, Einstein's Dream, Greene leads us into the world of the four fundamental forces in search of a theory of everything, the Holy Grail of contemporary physics, Einstein's unfulfilled dream. In the 17th century Newton realized that the force responsible for the fall of an apple also governs the movement of the planets. Then came Maxwell’s equations in the mid 19th century: like Newton, the Scottish scientist gave a significant contribution to the understanding of the secret code of the universe. Describing the link between electricity and magnetism by means of four very simple equations is a truly amazing achievement – or rather, as Greene would put it, “elegant”. Then came the electro-weak force in the 1960s, and now all that remains is to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. The former, proposed by Einstein in 1915, can exhaustively explain large-scale phenomena and objects like stars and galaxies, whereas the latter is similarly accurate in describing atomic and subatomic events. However, the two theories are still clashing with each other and, while we wait for a solution, Greene invites us to sip a drink at the rollicking “Quantum Cafè”. I
Awarded of the Gran Prix at the 21st Image et Science Festival.