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Timeless Reality : Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes Hardcover – November 1, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...wide-ranging, sophisticated...recommended..." -- Choice, May 2001

From the Inside Flap

Quantum physics has many extraordinary implications. One of the most extraordinary is that events at the atomic and subatomic level seem to depend on the future as well as the past. Is time really reversible?

Physicist Victor J. Stenger says yes. Contrary to our most basic assumptions about the inevitable flow of time from past to future, the underlying reality of all phenomena may have no beginning and no end, and not be governed by an "arrow of time." Though aware of the possibility, physicists have generally been reluctant to accept the reversibility of time as reality because of the implied causal paradoxes: If time travel to the past were possible, then you could go back and kill your grandfather before he met your grandmother! However, Stenger shows that this paradox does not apply for quantum phenomena.

Many people believe that the laws of nature represent a deep, Platonic reality that goes beyond the material objects that are observed by eye and by advanced scientific instruments. Stenger maintains that reality may be simpler and less mysterious than most think. The quantum world only appears mysterious when forced to obey rules of everyday human experience. Stenger convincingly argues that, based on established principles of simplicity and symmetry, at its deepest level reality is literally timeless. Within this reality it is possible that many universes exist, each with structures and laws different from our own.

Using language that is easily understood by the nonspecialist, Stenger elucidates these complex subjects with astounding clarity. The many vivid illustrations also help make the book come alive in a manner that is more accessible to the educated lay reader.


Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573928593
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573928595
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,076,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First of all, I'd like to start with a caveat. I gave this book 5 stars, but that assumes the reader has a college education or a very technical background. For someone not used to college-level writing, I would recommend avoiding this book. Having said that, I thought this book was amazing. My head is still spinning from all the detailed, technical information about quantum physics and relativity. Without getting bogged down in the actual mathematics, this book tells you just about everything you might want to know about modern physics.

Some of the best and most original writing is actually at the end, where Stenger presents his ideas on symmetry and how it relates to cosmology and the history of the universe. However, everything else in the book leads up to this, and there are plenty of references to previous chapters.

Stenger's concluding paradigm is simple, logical, and aesthetic, and definitely meets his own criterion of parsimony, or Occam's razor. Parsimony is a common theme in this and Stenger's other books, and he does a great job of using it to critique and analyze the various theories and philosophical interpretations of modern physics.

Again, I would recommend this book to anyone comfortable with college-level reading, but I would also love to see Stenger's concluding ideas summarized in another, less technical and more accessible format, for a wider audience.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like certain Victor Stenger's books. Who possibly can be better in presenting such subjects of science? After all, author is a professor of psychology as well. As Bertrand Russell wrote in 1950: "philosophy aims at a theoretical understanding of the structure of the world: on the other hand, it tries to discover and inculcate the best possible way of life..it can give to the individual a just measure of himself in relation to the whole history of man and to the astronomical cosmos". "Timeless Reality" is absolutely a "meisterstuck" dedicated to reader who is not afraid of mathematical formulas and equations. Learn from professor Stenger about time symmetry solving mysteries of quantum double nature and that cause not always precedes effect. Find more: brief history of philosophy, every topic of modern particle physics related to cosmology - explained and repeated each time when needed. If you have not find easy and convincing explanation of EPR paradox so far, you will find it here, one of the most interesting! Large sections of "Timeless Reality" successfully navigate through this hazy subject! Yes, it is a popular science book at its best, loaded with names, properties and behaviors of many exotic particles. Estimated level of difficulty rests somewhere between Roger Penrose's "The Emperor's New Mind" (quantum theory content) and Alan Guth's "The Inflationary Universe" or Lee Smolin's "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity".
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Format: Hardcover
I approve of the non-mathematical descriptions this book offers the intended audience. It elucidates some important quantitative principles in a comprehensible language (e.g. the Principle of Least Action; the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian; the 'Wave-Particle Duality' and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle; state vectors, phase, superposition, Gauge Invariance, Relativity symmetry, spin, and Lorentz transformations). I have enjoyed using this book as part of a bridge to step across the yawning gulf between popular (non-mathematical) and rigorously quantitative textbooks on Quantum theory (Quantum Electrodynamics & Quantum Field Theory). I especially liked Chapter 7 'Taming Infinity' where the Feynman-Wheeler Interaction Theory and Feynman's QED are beautifully presented for intellectual consumption. He seems especially aligned with Feynman's views of the particle nature of matter.
The author has carefully placed key words in bold type throughout the book that indicate their inclusion in a generous glossary of terms near the end of the book. I have grown to appreciate this as is a valuable feature in several books at this reading level. The chapters are broken into intellectually digestible size with a fair amount of diagrams to illustrate certain concepts visually.
Apparently a part of his agenda in this book, as well as in several of his other publications, is to try to correct (control) superstitious creationist (wrong) thinking concerning the origin of our Universe and equally incorrect mystical interpretations of reality. Vic flat out states that the Universe '...had no beginning and was not created.' For example, Dr. Stenger seems compelled to narrowly target the logic of theistic physicists such as Polkinghorne and Ross.
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