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About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution Paperback – April 9, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Australian scientist Davies's accessible account of Einstein's theory of relativity and of current scientific theories regarding the nature of time.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ever since the huge commercial success of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time (LJ 4/15/88), publishers have brought forth dozens of books examining the physical and theoretical foundations of time. With most of these titles continuing to sell well, the market seems inexhaustible. Thus, Davies's intelligent and provocative elucidation of Einstein's relativity theory and its temporal consequences will probably reach a significant audience. The book's greatest strength is that it is written at a beginning-to-intermediate level; readers who start with this book can grow with it, but those who have read other introductions to the subject will also find it rewarding. Still, it offers little that is new. Despite the book's inherent appeal and the popularity of the author's other works (e.g., The Mind of God, LJ 3/15/92), librarians might want to check how well the subject is already covered in their collections before making a purchase. Perhaps the best single treatment in terms of scope, authority, and breadth of appeal is Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (LJ 4/15/94).
Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (April 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684818221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684818221
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Davies is an internationally acclaimed physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist at Arizona State University, where he runs the pioneering Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He also chairs the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Post-Detection Taskgroup, so that if SETI succeeds in finding intelligent life, he will be among the first to know. The asteroid 1992OG was officially renamed Pauldavies in his honor. In addition to his many scientific awards, Davies is the recipient of the 1995 Templeton Prize--the world's largest annual prize--for his work on science and religion. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Mind of God, About Time, How to Build a Time Machine, and The Goldilocks Enigma. He lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Spiff on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a book about the meaning of time, what it is, when it has started, how it flows and where to. If you ever wondered about the puzzles and paradoxes of time, if you ever wanted to learn more about what Einstein's relativity implies about time itself, this is a book you will not want to miss.
Davies covers most of the questions about time; I found interesting how he explains the rather weird relationship between real time and our mental notion of it. The weirdness of bizarre possibilities should be enough to confuse anyone thinking about it for the first time; the way time relates to quantum physics, being sometimes even stranger to understand.
Black holes, the warping of space-time, theories about time travel, and the notion of "now": the division of past, present and future. From the inevitable "what existed before the Big Bang" to the Hartle Hawking theory, Wormholes, time dilation, etc, much is covered about time. Here are some of the subjects you will be able to read about:
1.Tachyons: Davies wonders if Tachyons can be ruled out. The special theory of relativity has been tested to unprecedented accuracy, yet tachyons are a problem. Allowed by the theory, they bring with them all sorts of unpalatable properties.
2.Black holes: Could there be really an end to time-a singularity- and the centre of all black holes? Can they form tunnels to other universes, or can we use them like wormholes that thread back into our universe? What happens to matter falling in them?
3.Time Travel: Just a fantasy? The investigation of exotic space-times that seem to permit travel into the past will, according to Davies, remains an active field of research, but there are no realistic time-travel scenarios known.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Matheny (kmatheny@webtv.net) on June 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
In this book Paul Davies provides a comprehensive, brilliant discussion of the nature of time. Beginning with Einstein's revolution which abolished the classical view of absolute time and space, Davies ranges widely into the scientific and philosophical ramifications of relativity. The bottom line is that our "common sense" notions of past, present, and future and our perception of time as flowng from present into future are distortions of reality. Instead of a flowing time that moves from present to future, time is actually a block of past, present, and future that is simply "there." The common sense notion of past, present, and future must be discarded if we are to understand the nature of time.Davies' discussion of time is exhaustive. And, while the book is difficult, particularly to a non-scientist like me, Davies has a gift for explaining very complex ideas in a way that a layperson can comprehend (but with effort; this is not casual reading!). Davies' prose is elegant and clear. He provides interesting insights into the lives of major scientific figures, particularly Einstein. And, he has a likable sense of humor. This book was a JOY TO READ.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Reader From Aurora on December 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
About Time discusses twentieth century developments in theoretical physics and their impact on our notion of time. Davies is a well known and prolific Australian science writer. I offer the following thoughts for potential readers.

Aimed at the general reader the book does not require a detailed knowledge of physics or mathematics. In light of the counter intuitive nature of modern theoretical physics, however, the uninitiated reader may require a little effort to get the gist of this intriguing but esoteric topic. Given the broad scope of material addressed in the text the time spent on each issue is relatively limited.

I concur with previous reviewers that the book is generally quite readable - Davies' technique of using a hypothetical skeptic as a means to highlight certain issues may strike some as awkward (that was my impression). From an overall stylistic perspective, however, Davies has improved significantly from his earlier efforts and become a solid writer.

The author does a nice job of discussing relativity and some of its implications. For instance, his handling of the twins paradox is among the best I have come across. I agree with Davies that there is solid empirical evidence to support time dilation - his transition from this to a tenseless view of time, however, seems premature - or at least insufficiently argued. Indeed, many of Davies assumptions regarding the nature of time, though interesting, will likely not be convincing to those who do not hold his narrow verificationist view of knowledge.

I found the latter part of the book that discusses highly speculative issues such as time travel to be of limited value.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John J Luckas on June 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
Paul Davies doesn't mince words. I just finished reading this book so I flipped to page 1 and started over again. It's a very enjoyable, exciting journey. I agree with the first reviewer who said it reminded him of reading a novel. The book is somewhat technical and some of it was over my head, but I read it because I knew it would be slightly beyond my grasp. I like the challenge. I liked the chapters on quantum physics the most. Oh, I'm no writer, so I'll just say it's an excellent, entertaining, incredibly thought-provoking journey to a place I wanted to go!
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About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution
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