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NOVA: The Elegant Universe: Einstein’s Dream

Airs Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Host Brian Greene appears in one of the many animated scenes created for the groundbreaking miniseries, "The Elegant Universe."

In the last few years, excitement has grown among scientists as they've pursued a revolutionary new approach to unifying nature's forces. To the uninitiated, string theory is totally mind-boggling. But physicist Brian Greene has a rare gift for conveying physics in vivid everyday images, a gift that has turned his book, "The Elegant Universe," into a mighty best-seller.

A Theory of Everything?

In this excerpt from his book "The Elegant Universe," Brian Greene explains why string theory might hold the key to unifying the four forces of nature.

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Greene brings his talent and vitality to television in this highly innovative production that makes the surreal world of string theory spring to life on the screen.

This three-part series originally aired November 9 - 23, 2011 on KPBS TV. "Einstein's Dream" will rebroadcast on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 10 p.m., and "The String's The Thing" will rebroadcast on Wednesday, July 18 at 10 p.m. The rebroadcast of the final episode, "Welcome To The 11th Dimension" is not currently scheduled.

The first hour introduces string theory and shows how modern physics — composed of two theories that are ferociously incompatible — reached an impasse: one theory, known as general relativity, is successful in describing big things like stars and galaxies; another, called quantum mechanics, is equally successful in describing small things like atoms and subatomic particles.

Albert Einstein, the inventor of general relativity, dreamed of finding a single theory that would embrace all of nature's laws. But in his quest for the so-called unified theory, Einstein came up empty-handed, and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics has stymied all who've followed. That is, until the discovery of string theory.

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Series Preview: NOVA: The Elegant Universe

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Watch The Elegant Universe, "Einstein's Dream" - Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.

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Preview: The Elegant Universe: Einstein's Dream

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Watch The Elegant Universe, "Einstein's Dream" - Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.