Fabric Of The Cosmos by Brian Greene
[Non-fiction – physics and cosmology; published 2004]
This is not just another book about relativity or quantum physics or cosmology. It's an effort to explore the scientific understanding of space and time, and the fundamentals of the universe. Starting with the question of space - he gives us the background on efforts to establish whether it is "absolute" or whether it merely represents how we refer to one thing relative to another. And, eventually, he considers whether space and time (at the bottom) constitute what the universe is or whether they are produced by some space-less/time-less entities that are the most basic building blocks of the universe.
The book will not be for all readers, depending on one's aptitude for physics. Not that the book has equations nor was it written for physicists. It's a physics popularization - but those are not for everyone. I found the book to be well written. Those readers who can handle a physics popularization will find that Greene uses a wide range of popular culture to present entertaining examples to illustrate the points being explained.
To follow physics in its attempts to learn about space, time and the origin of the universe requires going over Einstein's relativity, quantum physics and modern cosmology. That provides a foundation of scientific understanding that has strong support from experimental evidence. Physicists don't have a complete and final understanding of nature, therefore some of the discussion must be about physics theories that are speculative.
The book discusses the search for the Higgs boson, what the Higgs is thought to be and its supposed role in a series of transition events in the early universe. The Higgs particle plays an important role in the framework of the generally accepted quantum physics theories, although the Higgs has not yet been observed. New physics facilities are likely to produce evidence of the Higgs in the next few years, assuming these theories are right.
Greene covers aspects of physics that might relate to the "arrow of time". Why is it we experience time as "flowing" in one direction only, while physics theories have not specified one direction as being preferred over another? Over the course of a number of chapters he presents various parts of physics that (among other things) might relate to this question.
Greene covers leading theories about the very early universe. Not just the idea of a big bang, inflation, the microwave background radiation and so forth. He talks about out of what the big bang might have emerged - finite or infinite; did our big bang come from just one area of it…?
He spends a considerable amount of time on the variants and aspects of string / superstring / membrane theory. This is not limited to discussions of the extremely small and extra dimensions, but also theories on how membranes may relate to cosmological issues. He only gives a fairly brief introduction to loop quantum gravity theory.
Later in the book he has a chapter that goes over the issues involved in speculation about quantum teleportation and time travel.