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 third episode, Welcome to the Eleventh Dimension, Greene explains the theory of strings with a doughnut and a cup of coffee. According to the model presented by Ed Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the universe has 11 dimensions and the fundamental elements defining it are actually vibrating “membranes”. Witten has described string theory as "a part of 21stcentury physics that fell by chance into the 20th century." In fact, the theory is so far ahead of experimental technique that there is as yet no way to verify whether strings are real or a figment of some very creative imaginations. But scientists at the CERN atom-smasher on the French-Swiss border are working to test of one of the predictions of string theory. Scheduled to run later in this decade, this experiment may take an important step in showing that string theory is not just a crazy idea, but crazy reality. Needless to say, it's tough playing from here on, but thanks to clever graphics and to the clarifications courtesy of Greene & Co., we can almost conceive a universe other than the one we perceive with our senses.
Awarded of the Gran Prix at the 21st Image et Science Festival.