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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time Paperback – October 26, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"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."
"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
About the Author
SEAN CARROLL is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his PhD in 1993 from Harvard University. Recently, Carroll has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and the emergence of complexity. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Sloan Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of London. His most recent award, in 2014, was from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Carroll has appeared on The Colbert Report (twice), PBS’sNOVA, and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and he frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He has been interviewed by various NPR shows, Scientific American, Wired, and The New York Times. He has given a TED talk on the multiverse that has more than one million views, and he has participated in a number of well-attended public debates concerning material in his new book, including one in New York City in 2014 with Eben Alexander.
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This concept need not be dismissed. As Copernicus dethroned humanity with his Heliocentrism, Darwin with his Natural Selection, and others (like Freud) since then, we are now confronted with the possibility that even our universe may not be unique (and time in these other universes may not resemble time as we think we know it). Imagine being just another evolved creature from a backwater solar system in a backwater galaxy in a backwater universe? Talk about an ego bust! Maybe that's the way it is, to paraphrase the late Walter Cronkite. It still doesn't disallow God's interactions with humanity.
Carroll tiptoes gingerly through the God/intelligent design issue. After all, there is no known empirical test for God as an external agent creating the universe(s) out of nothing. Even Belgian priest Georges Lemaitre, originator of the Big Bang model, refused to enlist it for theological purposes: "As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside of any metaphysical or religious question."
Another scientific thinker who did not rely on a God hypothesis was Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827). Using mathematics, Laplace instead invoked an intelligence (called Laplace's Demon) that could exactly foretell the universe's "predetermined" future. Later in the 19th century, Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) also concocted a "demon." Maxwell's Demon wreaked havoc on conventional thinking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics and entropy by interfering with the normal kinetic process in a closed system. No, the Second Law was not violated after all, for the Demon siphoned entropy away from the box to himself, entropy that would have increased within an untampered closed system.
At the end of the day, Carroll leaves the reader with a lot of unanswered questions, but enlightened nonetheless by his yeoman's effort to bring us further along in our quest to understand the cosmos. Fr. Dennis
By the way, Penrose doesn't talk about baby universes like Carroll exactly. Penrose believes that we descended from an earlier universe and will give birth eventually to a baby one. Sean Carroll talks about spontaneous vacuum fluctuations producing baby universes. Penrose doesn't say this can't happen--he just limits his discussion to linear descent, and he produces evidence in the cosmic microwave background that we did indeed descend from another universe.
Time is indeed problematic. The work, devoted to something we experience is a very easy and yet hard thing to describe. He approaches it on many planes that involve physics.
If I were asked how to define time most simply, I would say that it is the measure of duration by which we can understand the progression of our life and of the succession of generations before and after us. This is undoubtedly something that could not be challenged, but would not give any physical meaning to time. Since Einstein, time has been seen as relative, a piece of Spacetime, passing differently to different observers at situations of higher velocities. In the use of Cosmological time, the subject goes from the meaning that I have stated, understood by nearly all, to something quite a bit more bizarre and perhaps esoteric.
Many may not be interested in the application of a deeper meaning to time. The book needs to wax philosophical in the grand tradition of Natural Philosophy, and I can appreciate that.
Seen from the perspective of Cosmological time, we are still dealing with something that is yet beyond a full ability to describe. Time does some bizarre things once seen from a galactic, if not a multi-verse perspective. Bringing up these questions is important. Having some absolute Time is impossible. I suspect that having some absolute concept of Time, as versus the time we use to do things (perhaps to read this review) is is perhaps not ever to be achieved to the full satisfaction of any theorist.