Brian Greene
Brian Greene, February 28, 2012
Brian Randolph Greene

(1962-02-09) February 9, 1962 (age 62)
Alma materHarvard University (BA)
Magdalen College, Oxford (DPhil)
Known forString theory
The Elegant Universe
The Fabric of the Cosmos
The Hidden Reality
SpouseTracy Day
AwardsAndrew Gemant Award (2003)
Scientific career
InstitutionsCornell University
Columbia University
ThesisSuperstrings: topology, geometry and phenomenology and astrophysical implications of supersymmetric models (1986)
Doctoral advisorGraham G. Ross
James Binney

Brian Randolph Greene[1] (born February 9, 1962) is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician. Greene was a physics professor at Cornell University from 1990–1995, and 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.

Greene has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and related PBS television specials. He also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode "The Herb Garden Germination", as well as the films Frequency and The Last Mimzy. He is currently a member of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[2]

Early life

Greene was born in New York City of Jewish background.[3] His father, Alan Greene, was a one-time vaudeville performer and high school dropout who later worked as a voice coach and composer. After graduating from Stuyvesant High School, where he was classmates with fellow physicist and science popularizer Lisa Randall,[4] Greene entered Harvard University in 1980 to concentrate in physics. After completing his BA degree with summa cum laude honors in 1984, Greene earned his DPhil degree in theoretical physics at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1987.[5][6] While at Oxford, Greene also studied piano with the concert pianist Jack Gibbons.[7]


Greene joined the physics faculty of Cornell University in 1990 and was appointed to a full professorship in 1995.[citation needed] The following year, he joined the faculty of Columbia University as a full professor.[citation needed] At Columbia, Greene is co-director of the university's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics (ISCAP) and is leading a research program applying superstring theory to cosmological questions. With co-investigators David Albert and Maulik Parikh he is a FQXi large-grant awardee for his project entitled "Arrow of Time in the Quantum Universe".[8]


Greene's area of research is string theory, a candidate for a theory of quantum gravity. He is known for his contribution to the understanding of the different shapes the curled-up dimensions of string theory can take. The most important of these shapes are so-called Calabi–Yau manifolds; when the extra dimensions take on those particular forms, physics in three dimensions exhibits an abstract symmetry known as supersymmetry.[citation needed]

Greene has worked on a particular class of symmetry relating two different Calabi–Yau manifolds, known as mirror symmetry and is known for his research on the flop-transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point.[9]

Currently, Greene studies string cosmology, especially the imprints of trans-Planckian physics on the cosmic microwave background, and brane-gas cosmologies that could explain why the space around us has three large dimensions, expanding on the suggestion of a black hole electron, namely that the electron may be a black hole.[citation needed]

World Science Festival

In 2008, together with former ABC News producer Tracy Day, Greene co-founded the World Science Festival.[10][11][12][13]

Communicating science

Brian Greene on Bookbits radio.

Greene is well known to a wider audience for his work on popularizing theoretical physics, in particular string theory and the search for a unified theory of physics. His first book, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, published in 1999, is a popularization of superstring theory and M-theory. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, and winner of The Aventis Prizes for Science Books in 2000.[14] The Elegant Universe was later made into a PBS television special of the same name, hosted and narrated by Greene, which won a 2003 Peabody Award.[15]

Greene's second book, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (2004), is about space, time, and the nature of the universe. Aspects covered in this book include non-local particle entanglement as it relates to special relativity and basic explanations of string theory. It is an examination of the very nature of matter and reality, covering such topics as spacetime and cosmology, origins and unification, and including an exploration into reality and the imagination. The Fabric of the Cosmos was later made into a PBS television special of the same name, hosted and narrated by Greene.[citation needed]

Greene's third book, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, published in January 2011, deals in greater depth with multiple universes, or, as they are sometimes referred to collectively, the multiverse.[citation needed]

A book for a younger audience, Icarus at the Edge of Time,[16] which is a futuristic re-telling of the Icarus myth, was published September 2, 2008.[17] In addition to authoring popular-science books, Greene is an occasional op-ed contributor for The New York Times, writing on his work and other scientific topics.[citation needed]

Greene's newest book is Until the End of Time. (Knopf)

The popularity of his books and his natural on-camera demeanor have resulted in many media appearances, including Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Century with Peter Jennings, CNN, Time, Nightline in Primetime, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and the Late Show with David Letterman. It has also led to Greene helping John Lithgow with scientific dialogue for the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun, and becoming a technical consultant for the film Frequency, in which he also had a cameo role. He was a consultant on the 2006 time-travel movie Déjà Vu. He also had a cameo appearance as an Intel scientist in 2007's The Last Mimzy. Greene was also mentioned in the 2002 Angel episode "Supersymmetry" and in the 2008 Stargate Atlantis episode "Trio". In April 2011 he appeared on The Big Bang Theory in the episode "The Herb Garden Germination" as himself, speaking to a small crowd about the contents of his most recent book.[18]

Greene has lectured outside of the collegiate setting, at both a general and a technical level, in more than twenty-five countries. In 2012 his teaching prowess was recognized when he received the Richtmyer Memorial Award, which is given annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers.[19]

In May 2013, the Science Laureates of the United States Act of 2013 (H.R. 1891; 113th Congress) was introduced into Congress. Brian Greene was listed by one commentator as a possible nominee for the position of Science Laureate, if the act were to pass.[20]

In March 2015, an Australian spider that uses waves to hunt prey, Dolomedes briangreenei, was to be named in honor of Brian Greene.[21][22]

He was interviewed at length by Jim Al-Khalili on the BBC radio program The Life Scientific on 28 April 2020.[23]

Personal life

Greene is married to former ABC producer Tracy Day.[24] They have one son, Alec, and one daughter, Sophia. Greene has been vegetarian since he was nine years old and a vegan since 1997.[25][26][27]

Greene has stated that he regards science as being incompatible with literalist interpretations of religion and that there is much in the New Atheism movement which resonates with him because he personally does not feel the need for religious explanation. However, he is uncertain of its efficacy as a strategy for spreading a scientific worldview.[28] In an interview with The Guardian he stated: "When I'm looking to understand myself as a human, and how I fit in to the long chain of human culture that reaches back thousands of years, religion is a deeply valuable part of that story."[29]


Popular science

Technical articles

For a full list of technical articles, consult the publication list in the INSPIRE-HEP database.


  1. ^ "The Mathematics Genealogy Project – Brian Greene". Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "Board of Sponsors". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Literature = art + science, February 12, 2009, Rebecca Abrams, JC
  4. ^ JR Minkel (Spring 2006). "The String is The Thing – Brian Greene Unravels the Fabric of the Universe". Columbia Magazine. Columbia University. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  5. ^ "Brian Greene - Department of Physics". Archived from the original on December 11, 2013.
  6. ^ Thesis Brian Randolph Greene: Superstrings - website of Oxford University Research Archive
  7. ^ "The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene | book review". Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  8. ^ O'Hara, Bob (November 28, 2012). "The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene (Book Review)". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Greene, Brian; Ahlqvist, Pontus; Kagan, David; Lim, Eugene A.; Sarangi, Saswat; Yang, I-Sheng (2011). "Conifolds and Tunneling in the String Landscape". Journal of High Energy Physics. 2011 (3): 119. arXiv:1011.6588. Bibcode:2011JHEP...03..119A. doi:10.1007/JHEP03(2011)119. S2CID 119238095.
  10. ^ "Who We Are". World Science Festival. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  11. ^ "About the World Science Festival". World Science Festival. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  12. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (May 28, 2019). "Add This To Your Calendar In New York: The Fascinating Science Festival". Forbes. Retrieved October 14, 2019.Eskenazi, Gerald (May 28, 2019). "Add This To Your Calendar In New York: The Fascinating Science Festival". Forbes. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Overbye, Dennis (June 3, 2008). "An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  14. ^ "Profile of Brian Greene". Royce Carlton Incorporated. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  15. ^ "NOVA: The Elegant Universe with Brian Greene". Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  16. ^ Greene, Brian (2008). Icarus at the Edge of Time. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-26888-4.
  17. ^ results, search (September 2, 2008). Icarus at the Edge of Time. Knopf. ISBN 978-0307268884.
  18. ^ Brian Greene String Theory - String Theory And Multiverse Explained (Documentary). YouTube.
  19. ^ "Brian Greene Recognized as 2012 Recipient of the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award". American Association of Physics Teachers. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  20. ^ Marlow, Jeffrey (May 9, 2013). "The Science Laureate of the United States". Wired. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  21. ^ Mitchell-Whittington, Amy (March 9, 2016). "Brisbane welcomes world renowned physicist by naming spider after him". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017.
  22. ^ Lewis, Danny. "Recently Discovered Spider Is Named After Physicist Brian Greene". Smithsonian.
  23. ^ "BBC The Life Scientific". Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  24. ^ Overbye, Dennis (June 3, 2008). "An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Boss, Shira. "Brian Greene Has the World on a String". Columbia College Today. Archived from the original on June 23, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  26. ^ "Consciousness Emerges in the Ash of Stellar Alchemy". Flickr. August 12, 2007. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  27. ^ "Scientists and inventors on vegetarianism". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013.
  28. ^ "An Interview with Brian Greene". April 3, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  29. ^ "Physicist Brian Greene: 'Factual information is not the right yardstick for religion'". February 8, 2020.

Further reading

  1. ^ Online version is titled "String theorist Brian Greene wants to help you understand the cold, cruel universe".