From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

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Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A comprehensively written book which should appeal to the academic and lay-person alike. Although scientific throughout, Carroll takes great pains to explain complex data in everyday terms, often using everyday items as illustrations
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 978-1851687954

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The Prologue sets out what this book is about. It's about ... the nature of time, the beginning of the universe, and the underlying structure of physical reality. OK? Bring on those questions. Yes, it's a weighty tome in terms of size and subject matter, but I would certainly describe the front cover as reader-friendly, so therefore should have broad appeal. I love the title of this book, lots of thought has been put into it and it certainly grabbed my attention - and I'm no scientist. The classic movie from the classic book ... I also loved Carroll's language - The Elegant Universe and a preposterous universe These are phrases to make you stop and think. And I certainly did.

Many of us will be familiar with the phrase The Big Bang courtesy of one Stephen Hawking, but do we know what it actually means? And are we all that bothered? Carroll sets out to tell us - and he differs slightly from the eminent Hawking. Carroll uses the humble kitchen egg to help explain complex scientific terms (along with graphs etc where he thinks appropriate). As he says more than once - You can turn an egg into an omelet (sic), but you can't turn an omelet into an egg. In other words, you cannot reverse time. This explanation is neatly packaged under the sub-heading The Arrow Of Time. Carroll also explains why human beings can remember the past, but not the future. At this point, I found myself saying out loud ... because it hasn't happened yet.

Carroll is also generous enough to state that in his subject area (cosmology) not everyone will agree with him and I was happy to read this. Debate (whatever the subject) is always healthy, I believe. The book does cover some heavy, academic areas, there's no getting away from it - so please take note. The whole subject of time itself covers various disciplines including quantum mechanics, particle physics and thermodynamics so, not your average bedtime reading then.

Carroll asks us a simple question - what is time? And each of us would have our own answer. Difficult to describe? And to compound that thought even further, apparently time can be divided into three distinct areas and no, I'm not even talking about the obvious breakdown of past, present and future.

Another phrase many of us will have heard of is black hole and Carroll steps in smartly to give his in-depth analysis and explanation. But he also mentions the phrase white hole Have we heard of that? My short answer was no. And, warming to his theme, he goes into the whole 'clock time' scenario as well as the solar system. And his explanations and illustrations are pretty easy to follow and comprehend. Some sections I'd actually put down more to common sense than anything else - but then, as I said, I'm not a scientist.

Carroll cleverly, I thought, gives us quotes from well-known books and authors to get his cosmic point home. They work. And some of his headings would not be out of place in a poetry collection (this is a compliment) for example, The Art Of The Possible and Hot, Smooth Beginnings. The usual suspects are mentioned (Einstein, Newton) with plenty of pages given to both. Not surprisingly, this publication has a comprehensive Bibliography as well as a Notes to Pages section. In summary, although in essence academically scientific, should also appeal to the well-informed or interested lay person. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science by John D Barrow

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Buy From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll at Amazon.com.

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