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The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics Paperback – November 29, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0195145922 ISBN-10: 0195145925 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195145925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195145922
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Where does the time go? Independent physicist Barbour presents an unusual alternate to the standard way of viewing the four-dimensional universe (three spatial dimensions and time), beginning with how our perception of time is formed. Time, he says, does not exist apart from events: the motions of the sun and the stars, the mechanical movement of a clock. Rather than truly feeling the passing of time, we merely note changes in our surroundings, described by the author as a series of "Nows," like frames of a motion picture. Not only do Nows exist for the events that actually occur, but a large number of Nows represent alternate possibilities, inhabiting a land called Platonia. Which Nows become our perceived reality? The rule of thumb Barbour gives is, "only the probable is experienced." In the "macro" world, the author addresses determinism, Newtonian mechanics and the second law of thermodynamics as they relate to his theory of Nows. In the quantum mechanical realm, he ties his theory of time to the Schrodinger Equation in its various forms. Throughout, the author accompanies his theories not with complex equations but rather with elegant (if sometimes convoluted) diagrams. If these theories sound intriguing, readers already familiar with the Wheeler-DeWitt and Schrodinger equations, eigenstates and wave functions may appreciate this unique perspective. Ultimately, however, Barbour's attempts to "simplify" physics, in particular quantum mechanics, will confuse as many readers as they enlighten. 20 illustrations. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Barbour is a research physicist who works without formal ties to the academy. Here, he presents his thesis that time and motion do not exist; they are illusions. The first portion of the book is rather philosophical in tone, but most of the work is concerned with the struggle to resolve the disparities among classical physics, quantum mechanics, and general relativity. Barbour argues that the omission of time from the foundations of physics will enable scientists to achieve a unified theory of physics. At the moment many physicists have not accepted this remarkable viewpoint; it seems to be a desperate expedient to resolve a set of problems that may yet be solved by other means. Even so, this is a book that deserves serious study and consideration. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.AJack W. Weigel, formerly with Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is about new ideas from a very peculiar point of view.
Ricardo R. Gonzalez
The author clearly recognizes that every scientific "law" or "theory" is a model, usually a mathematical construction, and not reality itself.
John Dee
The book may have been better off if it were written in a more technical manner for experts or with more analogies and descriptions for lay readers.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

254 of 270 people found the following review helpful By J J K SWART on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There are, historically speaking, only two concepts of time.
The first is the Space+Time vision of Kant, Newton, etc., with two small modifications. One is that of Einstein Time + Space are fused into the idea of Space-time. In Relativity theory Space-time can be 'cut' by a 'now'-plane in different ways, under different angles, so that simultaneity is no longer absolute, but dependent on the state of motion. But this vision is just a further mathematical elaboration of Space + Time, and does not contain any essential new insight into time itself.
The second minor modification is implicit in Quantum Mechanics. One of the four famous Heisenberg relations dE * dt > h implies, that 'now' is not 'absolute, and 'infinitely small', as commonly is believed, but has an extension that depends on the energy content of any existing objects. The more mass the object has, the more energy it has, (through E = mc2) and therefore the smaller its 'now'-interval is. This implies, that the 'now' of different objects is different; dependent on how much energy they consist of. From it you can explain how come that electrons that spin around these atoms do not radiate electromagnetic radiation. For if the time they need to revolve around the atom is equal to the 'now' interval, they essentially do not have the 'time' to complete that movement, so that, in a sense, you can say that they do not move. For if they do not move, they do not accelerate, and therefore do not radiate.
The second vision on time is the Leibniz vision. According to Leibniz, time is 'not really existing', but it is the conceptual order that our minds puts on existence. It is an ordering imposed on existence in terms of 'sooner and later'.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By g coldham (ottawa) on February 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a complex and provocative field. I believe Mr. Barbour was also a Russian translator, and he clearly relishes mind games. The book is written primarily for physicists who are well-versed in quantum theory, eigenstates, Planck mass, Schrodinger's Q, Einstein, Mach, Leibnitz, Dirac, Minkowski, etc.. On Page 308 he states: "This book has been one long, sustained effort to shed redundant concepts". Barbour only gets to the heart of the issue in Chapter 15 after a long preamble of atom-splitting arguments. The re-dissection leads one into a reductio ad absurdum, where it goes beyond the bounds of (human) meaning, the Taoist domain of "everything is everything", where all analogies are inadequate. Basically he says the only way to unite macro-physics and quantum physics is to delete the whole notion of Time. I feel that the final chapter is weak, when he could have written it in a highly sensational manner. Is this just British understatement? Occasionally he seems to say Time is non-existent, but at other points, he proposes that it is time DIRECTIONALITY that is the illusion. All this is totally counter-intuitive but we are used to this by now. He claims all matter is governed by wave-functions that ping-pong back and forth in a kind of "phase-lock" and create frames-per-second mirages of motion and time or random configurations that are effectively timeless and directionless. There is no past or future as such (see Page 262) only "instants in time". Humans are totally beguiled by their earthbound reality that (appears to) move at a mere 70 frames/second, so how can they ever expect to gain command of near-light-speed microcosmic worlds of quantum particles?Read more ›
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By S. M. Guzman on September 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of course people may have trouble with this book! It grapples with one of the most counter-intuitive hypotheses ever pondered. Unsurprisingly, befuddled readers will readily point fingers at the author's "poor exposition". When someone fails to understand Joyce or Faulkner, it's the reader's fault, but when someone can't understand a science author, then it's the writer's fault....
The fact is that if the author (or anyone else, for that matter) understood the nature of time well enough to spoon-feed us with a crystal-clear, airtight argument (together with its attendant implications, as some readers demand) such insight would already be in the news as the single greatest breakthrough in the history of physics. As it is, the ideas presented in the book are speculative and unstructured. They may even be flawed. So what? To date, they constitute one of the few (if not the only) non-technical discussions of current thoughts on the most baffling aspect of physical reality.
This book is clearly meant for those who want to "read about it first", whenever some interesting idea first appears in print, no matter how undigested. As for those readers who would rather wait for the Discovery-Channel version of everything, their stance is legitimate, but can hardly be blamed on a book.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David J. Kreiter on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history of science has been the explanation of phenomena that were previously the domain of philosophers, and this is true of Julian Barbour's book, "The end of Time". Barbour's simple idea is that time does not exist in nature. But since time is explicitly entwined with motion, Barbour faces a much more monumental task--banishing the very motion responsible for the abstract concept of time itself. This he does quite convincingly. Newton believed motion was relative to absolute space; Einstein proposed that space and time must be considered together; and Barbour calls space and time redundant. There is nothing that lies within our physical universe, no internal change relative to the universe as a whole. Rather, all that we "see" as objects in motion "within" the universe are in fact part of the whole universe itself. Movement is simply different configurations of the holistic universe in total. Therefore, there is no motion, and by defintion no time. This is the intuitve concept that Barbour presents. Though I believe it could have been presented in a shorter format, it is certainly worth the read.
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