Brian Greene

  • American physicist
  • Born February 9, 1963

Brian Randolph Greene (born February 9, 1963) is an American theoretical physicist, mathematician, and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996 and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different Calabi–Yau manifolds (concretely, relating the conifold to one of its orbifolds). He also described the flop transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point.

Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that's precise, predictive and reliable - a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional.

We're on this planet for the briefest of moments in cosmic terms, and I want to spend that time thinking about what I consider the deepest questions.

In my own research when I'm working with equations, I never feel like I really understand what I'm doing if I'm solely relying on the mathematics for my understanding. I need to have a visual picture in my mind. I'm constantly translating from the math to some intuitive mind's-eye picture.

Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.

My view is that science only has something to say about a very particular notion of God, which goes by the name of 'god of the gaps'.

One of the strangest features of string theory is that it requires more than the three spatial dimensions that we see directly in the world around us. That sounds like science fiction, but it is an indisputable outcome of the mathematics of string theory.

There's a picture of my dorm room in the college yearbook as the most messy, most disgusting room on the Harvard campus, where I was an undergraduate.

My dad was a composer and a musician, but he never finished high school. His formal education was rather minimal from the standards of today's college graduates and Ph.D.'s, but he had a deep interest in questions of science and questions of the universe.

Black holes, we all know, are these regions where if an object falls in, it can't get out, but the puzzle that many struggled with over the decades is, what happens to the information that an object contains when it falls into a black hole. Is it simply lost?

The idea that there could be other universes out there is really one that stretches the mind in a great way.

In the far, far future, essentially all matter will have returned to energy. But because of the enormous expansion of space, this energy will be spread so thinly that it will hardly ever convert back to even the lightest particles of matter. Instead, a faint mist of light will fall for eternity through an ever colder and quieter cosmos.

When you drive your car, E = mc2 is at work. As the engine burns gasoline to produce energy in the form of motion, it does so by converting some of the gasoline's mass into energy, in accord with Einstein's formula.

Physicists are more like avant-garde composers, willing to bend traditional rules... Mathematicians are more like classical composers.

I would say in one sentence my goal is to at least be part of the journey to find the unified theory that Einstein himself was really the first to look for.

The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.

Science is the greatest of all adventure stories, one that's been unfolding for thousands of years as we have sought to understand ourselves and our surroundings.

Black holes provide theoreticians with an important theoretical laboratory to test ideas. Conditions within a black hole are so extreme, that by analyzing aspects of black holes we see space and time in an exotic environment, one that has shed important, and sometimes perplexing, new light on their fundamental nature.

My view is that you don't tell the universe what to do. The universe is how it is, and it's our job to figure it out.

I think the relationship between memory and time is a very deep and tricky one, to tell you the truth. I don't consider memory another sense. I do consider memory that which allows us to think that time flows.

String theory envisions a multiverse in which our universe is one slice of bread in a big cosmic loaf. The other slices would be displaced from ours in some extra dimension of space.

Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world.

String theory is not the only theory that can accommodate extra dimensions, but it certainly is the one that really demands and requires it.

What makes a Beethoven symphony spectacular, what makes a Brahms rhapsody spectacular is that the patterns are wondrous.

Art makes us human, music makes us human, and I deeply feel that science makes us human.

Art makes us human, music makes us human, and I deeply feel that science makes us human.

I think math is a hugely creative field, because there are some very well-defined operations that you have to work within. You are, in a sense, straightjacketed by the rules of the mathematics. But within that constrained environment, it's up to you what you do with the symbols.

I do feel strongly that string theory is our best hope for making progress at unifying gravity and quantum mechanics.

How can a speck of a universe be physically identical to the great expanse we view in the heavens above?

We can certainly go further than cats, but why should it be that our brains are somehow so suited to the universe that our brains will be able to understand the deepest workings?

The bottom line is that time travel is allowed by the laws of physics.

One of the wonders of science is that it is completely universal. It crosses national boundaries with total ease.

The tantalizing discomfort of perplexity is what inspires otherwise ordinary men and women to extraordinary feats of ingenuity and creativity; nothing quite focuses the mind like dissonant details awaiting harmonious resolution.

A unified theory would put us at the doorstep of a vast universe of things that we could finally explore with precision.

A unified theory would put us at the doorstep of a vast universe of things that we could finally explore with precision.

For me it's been very exciting to contribute to the public's understanding of how rich and wondrous science is.

Even when I wasn't doing much 'science for the public' stuff, I found that four or five hours of intense work in physics was all my brain could take on a given day.

It's hard to teach passionately about something that you don't have a passion for.

The number of e-mails and letters that I get from choreographers, from sculptors, from composers who are being inspired by science is huge.