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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time Hardcover – January 7, 2010


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Read the prologue from Sean Carroll's "From Eternity to Here" [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951339
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. No one is better equipped to take readers on a rollercoaster ride through time, space, and the origins of the universe than Caltech theoretical physicist Carroll, cofounder of Cosmic Variance, one of the top science blog sites. We're not thinking small here, Carroll announces with glee before launching into his topic. Time is a medium we move through and a way to sequence events. But the Arrow of Time' is also the only feature of the universe with one irreversible direction: time goes forward. This fact plays an important role in the second law of thermodynamics: the entropy (disorderliness) of an isolated system either remains constant or increases with time. This has implications for our understanding of the Big Bang origins of the universe. We may not be able to travel back in time, but we can find ways to peer back across it and see clues to how the universe evolved, thanks to such discoveries as quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Carroll writes with verve and infectious enthusiasm, reminding readers that science is a journey in which getting there is, without question, much of the fun. Illus. (Jan.)
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Review

"Unifying cosmology, thermodynamics, and information science into a refreshingly accessible whole, From Eternity to Here will make you wish time's arrow could fly in reverse, if only so you could once again read the book for the first time."
-Seed Magazine

"Carroll...takes his readers on a fascinating and refreshing trek through every known back alley and cul de sac of quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology and theoretical physics. The best way to grasp the rich mysteries of our universe is by constantly rereading the best and clearest explanations. Mr. Carroll's From Eternity to Here is certainly one of them."
-Wall Street Journal

"For anyone who ever wondered about the nature of time and how it influences our universe, this book is a must read. It is beautifully written, lucid, and deep."
-Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, author of Black Holes and Time Warps

"Sean Carroll's From Eternity to Here provides a wonderfully accessible account of some of the most profound mysteries of modern physics. While you may not agree with all his conclusions, you will find the discussion fascinating, and taken to much deeper levels than is normal in a work of popular science."
-Sir Roger Penrose, University of Oxford, author of The Road to Reality and The EMperor's New Mind




More About the Author

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, specializing in cosmology, gravitation, field theory, and quantum mechanics. His research addresses the foundations of cosmology: What happened at the very beginning of the universe? Why was entropy low near the Big Bang? Is there an interpretation of quantum mechanics that applies to the universe as a whole? What are the dark matter and dark energy that dominate the universe today? How do complex structures evolve over time?

Carroll has been blogging regularly since 2004. His textbook "Spacetime and Geometry" has been adopted by a number of universities for their graduate courses in general relativity. He is a frequent public speaker, and has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report and Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. He has produced a set of lectures for The Teaching Company on dark matter and dark energy, and another on the nature of time. He has served as a science consultant for films such as Thor and TRON: Legacy, as well as for TV shows such as Fringe and Bones.

His 2010 popular book, "From Eternity to Here," explained the arrow of time and connected it with the origin of our universe. "The Particle at the End of the Universe," about the Large Hadron Collider and the quest to discover the Higgs boson, was released November 2012.

More information at http://preposterousuniverse.com/

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Customer Reviews

Very well and pleasantly written.
Rosalia
Carroll is an excellent writer, and is able to translate what could be difficult ideas of physics into something that layman can understand.
Blind Watchmaker
This is the first book I have read by Sean Carroll, and I found in it an elegant discussion on the concept of the arrow of time.
Randolph Eck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

174 of 191 people found the following review helpful By A Cosmologist on January 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The arrow of time is a central issue in fundamental physics, and one that remains an open question even in the age of quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a tall task even to define the question properly, never mind to explain what some of the proposed resolutions are. Nevertheless, Carroll is one of the best writers of popular science working today, and in this book he tackles the topic beautifully, guiding the reader through the relevant ideas, many of which we all think we have an intuitive feel for, like entropy, and explaining their physical meanings, and how gravity complicates the story.

The book is worth reading for its expert descriptions of the background material alone, but the reader hungry for speculations of how physics at the frontier may provide an understanding of the arrow of time will not be disappointed. Carroll devotes ample space to the concepts of cosmic inflation, the role of quantum mechanics, baby universes, and the setting that string theory may provide for all of this. None of this is settled ground in physics yet, and the author makes that entirely clear. But it hard to read this account and not come away with a tangible sense of the excitement to be found in taking on these most fundamental of problems.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Jaume Puigbo Vila on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book that would merit a second reading to understand it more fully. At a fundamental level physics consists of the Standard Model, General Relativity and the Big Bang Inflationary Model of the universe. However, in this model there is something unexplained and it is the Past Hypothesis, that is that the universe started in a low entropy configuration. However the author speculates that perhaps the Big Bang was neither the beginning of time nor a moment of low entropy, but a moment of lowest entropy and the entropy increases in both directions of time, towards the future of the Big Bang and towards its past (from our point of view). This would be the situation in a single connected universe, although string theory predicts a multiverse.

Trying to elucidate the meaning of time (perhaps "an emergent phenomenon rather than a necessary part of our ultimate description of the world") the author reviews special and general relativity, Boltzmann's entropy, black holes and the controversy about conservation of information, life, quantum mechanics, inflation and the multiverse. Generally speaking the book is written in an accessible style (eggs can be broken and turned into omelettes, but not the other way around to describe the Second Law), but you will need to reread some parts to make the most of it.

In the final chapter Sean Carroll faces the "search for meaning in a preposterous universe". I quote: "We find ourselves, not as a central player in the life of the cosmos, but as a tiny epiphenomenon, flourishing for a brief moment as we ride a wave of increasing entropy...Purpose and meaning are not to be found in the laws of nature, or in the plans of any external agent...it is our job to create them.
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97 of 112 people found the following review helpful By David Grae on January 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am not a physicist. I majored in English in college. I shouldn't be able to understand this book on any level. But I do. And it's fascinating. Illuminating. And just plain interesting as hell. That's Sean Carroll's greatest achievement in this page-turner about the TIME we live in. If you have any interest at all in getting your head around just what this elusive "time" we all experience is all about, you should read this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McDavid on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roughly the first 3/4 of the book is quite standard physics, and a few related fields, e.g. information theory. The last few chapters, where the author, Sean Carroll, suggests a possible answer to the puzzle, are much more speculative, something he makes very clear.

To me the book was quite interesting. A few equations are displayed, but there is no actual use of mathematics. I have an M.S. in Applied Physics, so I cannot really say how a reader with no technical background would cope with it. Carroll goes through a lot of material, and the sheer quantity of it might be overwhelming. Unfortunately, that is just the way things are. Nobody is going to cope with this without the willingness to do some hard thinking. Carroll does include a lot of pop culture references that readers can relate to, although one of those may not be in any future edition of the book.

A couple interesting (to me) notes:

The complexity of the universe is different from the entropy. Just after the Big Bang the universe was very simple--the same high energy subatomic soup every where. Right now the universe is very complicated: There are lots of galaxies, stars, planets, black holes, people, etc. However, the entropy of the universe has increased: The formation of all those objects is mostly due to gravitation, as matter coalesces together. This gravitational process increases the total entropy, more than offsetting the order in all the structure. Eventually all of this structure will fade away. Even black holes will decay by the Hawking process, leaving a very thin, cold, dark, and simple universe. So while the universe started in a simple state, evolved into a complex state, and will eventually decay into another simple state, the entropy is always increasing. See pages 199-201.
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