Start reading Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time [Kindle Edition]

Huw Price
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $16.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $24.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $15.00 (60%)

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $9.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $21.01  
The Contender by Michael Shnayerson
The Contender by Michael Shnayerson
Read the story of the second Cuomo to occupy New York's governor's mansion. Learn more | See all by author

Book Description

Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way around? What does quantum mechanics really tell us about the world? In this important and accessible book, Huw Price throws fascinating new light on some of the great mysteries of modern physics, and connects them in a wholly original way.
Price begins with the mystery of the arrow of time. Why, for example, does disorder always increase, as required by the second law of thermodynamics? Price shows that, for over a century, most physicists have thought about these problems the wrong way. Misled by the human perspective from within time, which distorts and exaggerates the differences between past and future, they have fallen victim to what Price calls the "double standard fallacy": proposed explanations of the difference between the past and the future turn out to rely on a difference which has been slipped in at the beginning, when the physicists themselves treat the past and future in different ways. To avoid this fallacy, Price argues, we need to overcome our natural tendency to think about the past and the future differently. We need to imagine a point outside time -- an Archimedean "view from nowhen" -- from which to observe time in an unbiased way.
Offering a lively criticism of many major modern physicists, including Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking, Price shows that this fallacy remains common in physics today -- for example, when contemporary cosmologists theorize about the eventual fate of the universe. The "big bang" theory normally assumes that the beginning and end of the universe will be very different. But if we are to avoid the double standard fallacy, we need to consider time symmetrically, and take seriously the possibility that the arrow of time may reverse when the universe recollapses into a "big crunch."
Price then turns to the greatest mystery of modern physics, the meaning of quantum theory. He argues that in missing the Archimedean viewpoint, modern physics has missed a radical and attractive solution to many of the apparent paradoxes of quantum physics. Many consequences of quantum theory appear counterintuitive, such as Schrodinger's Cat, whose condition seems undetermined until observed, and Bell's Theorem, which suggests a spooky "nonlocality," where events happening simultaneously in different places seem to affect each other directly. Price shows that these paradoxes can be avoided by allowing that at the quantum level the future does, indeed, affect the past. This demystifies nonlocality, and supports Einstein's unpopular intuition that quantum theory describes an objective world, existing independently of human observers: the Cat is alive or dead, even when nobody looks. So interpreted, Price argues, quantum mechanics is simply the kind of theory we ought to have expected in microphysics -- from the symmetric standpoint.
Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. In this exciting book, Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the mysteries of time to look at the world from the fresh perspective of Archimedes' Point and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, the universe around us, and our own place in time.

Editorial Reviews


"Particularly illuminating in that Price shows how philosophers and physicists have failed to see temporal symmetries because of the influence of their own temporally asymmetric perspective.... A real advance in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Not only philosophy of science but theoretical physicists should be excited about by this lovely book."--J.J.C. Smart, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University


"Particularly illuminating in that Price shows how philosophers and physicists have failed to see temporal symmetries because of the influence of their own temporally asymmetric perspective.... A real advance in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Not only philosophy of science but theoretical physicists should be excited about by this lovely book."--J.J.C. Smart, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University

Product Details

  • File Size: 714 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195117980
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (January 30, 1996)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004SL4KIU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,718 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's about time February 29, 2000
This is one of the hardest books I've ever read. It was rewarding, though. Price wrote the book explicitly for philosophers and physicists. Frankly, it was nice to see a book written thus with all the condescending attitudes that these two (?) spheres of knowledge have had towards each other in this day and age. This book belongs in the same prestigious realm as the books on physics & philosophy that were written by Werner Heisenberg and Sir James Jeans earlier this century. I would like to see more books of this type in the future.
As you might have guessed, the book deals with the nature of time. It is HIGHLY recommended that anyone attempting grapple with this intellectual Godzilla have a general understanding of quantum mechanics (if, that is, anyone really DOES understand QM) and some background in thermodynamics and relativity would not hurt, either. This book is not for those who think of books by Danielle Steele as intellectually stimulating.
The book deals with the entropy "problem" of how it is that matter ever got to its low entropy state after the big bang, since (apparently) high entropy (heat death) is its natural state. Price tours some potential (although sometimes far fetched) answers to this query.
For me, the most fascinating facet of the book was its discussion of the idea of advanced action as a solution to the nonlocality "problem" in QM. It's amazing for me to think that two entangled photons could already KNOW that the other's spin is going to change at such-and-such a time due to their travelling at the speed of light. Although Price did not invent this concept, he supports it (compellingly) and also objects to the normal criticism that either we can have relativity or free will, but not both. A truly fascinating concept for physicists and philosophers alike.
So, if you want a wild and engrossing intellectual ride, this book is for you.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time For A Drink January 10, 2001
This is heady stuff-Perhaps if you're a theoretical physics professor at CalTech it might make for light postprandial enjoyment.-But for the rest of us...Beware!...Part of the problem is terminology(micro) or (mu) innocence for example....Oddly, I read this book for the same reason I read Proust-I'm fascinated with Time!-But be forewarned that, though this book has far less than Proust's 3,000 pages, unless you are the aforementioned professor, you have an extremely tougher row to hoe in reading this book, even though the author goes out of his way to make things understandable to the lay reader. -The basic idea isn't that hard to understand: we are captives of our position in time and that captivity affects our observations of physical (particle, wavicle, whatever) behavior. What the author eventually advances (after ploughing through many other concepts and alternative explanations) is something called "advanced action theory." This theory entails, as far as I can make out, very simply, that there is a "common future" as well a "common past" that influences what we call the present but that we are unable to perceive this common future because our nature as AGENTS (he uses this term over and over)precludes us from perceiving this common future.-I kept on thinking of a spatial analogy of a person tied to the back of the caboose of a train facing backward. He can see where the train has gone, but not the vista ahead, which is certainly just as real. But if he has been in this position his entire life, he would have no idea what you meant by saying "See that mountain up ahead!" How could you know? It's as if one of us were to state, "See that assassination attempt tomorrow!"- Archimedes' Point for Mr. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging, dense but enjoyable read March 1, 1999
By A Customer
This is not a book for the faint of heart, especially if, like me, you are neither a physicist nor a philosopher. I suspect that students of quantum mechanics will get much more out of the book than interested bystanders such as I (who have never taken a physics class and would probably have flunked had I tried).
You cannot skim this book or read it with half a mind. You must engage yourself with the author, pay attention to each and every sentence. I recommend reading the introduction and conclusion first (this is, after all, a book about the asymmetry of time), then the beginning and end of each chapter before digging in. Luckily, Price divides each chapter into bite-sized sections. He also repeats himself quite a lot, but I think he does so because he knows how difficult his subject is and hopes that if you don't understand something the first time, you will by the third or fourth time or just by an example with a slightly different twist.
The lack of a physics background will not only make the subject harder to understand (of course) but will also make the argument harder to evaluate. His points are very interesting and seem well-reasoned, but I don't know enough about the subject to evaluate them.
Still, if you're interested in the subject and are prepared to work at it, the book will reward your time and energy.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the preface of Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point, Mr. Price describes his target audience as being those people with an interest in the subject of time, yet no formal education in either Physics or Philosophy. In this light I feel that the book does not fare well due more to its style than its topic. I am wildly interested in the book's subject matter, and I have no formal education in either Physics or Philosophy, yet I found myself struggling at times to appreciate Mr. Price's logic on the first pass. Following the linguistic style of the book was apparently an issue for the editors at Oxford as well because it contained over a half-dozen typographical errors (all contextual; not spelling errors).

The ultimate purpose of the book is to make the case for a "Block Universe", one in which time does not flow, but rather whose entire existence already resides as a fourth dimension. "Archimedes' Point" in the title refers to the need for us to step out of our shells as agents in time, and view nature "from nowhen" if we are to truly understand the concept. Mr. Price begins by analyzing what appears to be the natural symmetry of time as outlined by the mathematical description of physics. He then presents common time-asymmetric arguments, one after another, and shows them to be ultimately fallacious, contradictory, or suffering from anthropocentric double standards. Near the end of the book Mr. Price incorporates the strange behavior of quantum mechanics, which can plausibly be explained by advanced action (aka causes coming from the future), to bolster his "Block Universe" claims. In the end I almost take the Block Universe for granted, and from this perspective the book is a resounding success.

Making it through the book was ultimately satisfying.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelectually stimulating
A materialistic rendition of reality above my "pay grade" where consciousness is left out in my layman understanding.
Published 26 days ago by Jorge Yanez
5.0 out of 5 stars what now?
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into reality.
Published 2 months ago by Robert M Lynch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Book
Published 5 months ago by Robert Lantz
4.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book to graduate students in physics
I would recommend this book to graduate students in physics, philosophy, etc. Huw Price is unsurpassable by any "new thinker"
in print on this topic.
Published 5 months ago by Diana Carter
1.0 out of 5 stars Has no writing skills - Opaque and impossible to follow ...
Has no writing skills - Opaque and impossible to follow - just another book proving that current physics (and philosophy) have no way to explain the concept of time (they always... Read more
Published 5 months ago by AndrewSK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent all the way around. I would buy from them again. Very satisfied overall.
Published 5 months ago by William Riddel
3.0 out of 5 stars Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like an orange.

About the extent of what I got out of this very difficult to read book and I enjoy reading Virginia Wolfe! I know, apples and oranges. Read more
Published 8 months ago by I'm not Rappaport
1.0 out of 5 stars Go elsewhere for reading on "time"
For every Einstein, there are tens of thousands of Huw Price's, who somehow think they are like an Einstein. How sad. Read more
Published 9 months ago by bowonwing
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly over my head
The author is obviously extremely intelligent and well-versed in his areas of expertise. But he seems to have written this book for a limited audience of people like himself... Read more
Published 23 months ago by M. Walters
4.0 out of 5 stars worth your while if you're prepared to do some hard work
I found it difficult to rate this book, wavering between 3 and 4 stars. Eventually, I opted for 4 stars because the book covers many interesting points and, in the opinion of this... Read more
Published on March 16, 2013 by BetseaK
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category