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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time Paperback – Bargain Price, October 26, 2010
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
"Carroll employs an easygoing, colloquial style of explanation to explore challenging issues of cosmology." ---Library Journal --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Content-wise, he does a phenomenal job of summarizing and relating the history of theories of time and their real-world application. It gets dense towards the end, and very mathematical. As someone who is not very mathematically minded, it was tough and I had to reread some chapters. Carroll's passion, candor, and eccentric prose kept me through it. He really holds your hand though the more difficult concepts and the book culminates with some truly fascinating modern theories on time, the universe, and (seemingly) everything in between. This really helped me with writing my novel on time, and I'm very thankful to Carroll for laying out the science for me to make my book that much more believable.
My only note of criticism is to take it reeeaallly slow with some of the more advanced subjects. Students of physics will likely be fine, but there's some dense reading in store for science enthusiasts without degrees. I had a friend and colleague purchase the audiobook. He liked the reader, but it's a science book being read out loud. His suggestion was to have your finger close to the Rewind button ;)
A note to Sean: Keep up the excellent work. If you're reading this, I would happily purchase other books for you and support your academic endeavors. Great stuff and thank you for all your effort.
Towards the end of my reading the book, I happened upon an article titled "Universe Has Finite Lifespan, Higgs Boson Calculations Suggest". While reading the article, the crucial concepts mentioned were familiar to me from the book, and I understood what they were talking about and where these ideas come from. It was both a personal triumph and a seal of approval for the quality of the book. I did not waste my time reading this.
The book takes a tour through modern theories and speculations by starting with a few fundamental questions "what is time and why is it moving forward" and "why did the universe start in a very low entropy configuration". Hunting the answers for these questions is the purpose of the book, and the author makes sure you're not lost in increasingly complex explanations along the way.
It's not an easy read, though, even if it does present super complex subjects in laymen's terms. I bought this book for a two-week vacation, and even though I read all the time, it took me 4 more days of reading after the vacation to finish it. The content requires a fair amount of concentration without stop, and the book is rather long.
I did have a few gripes while reading.
The author explains that the universe had a very low entropy configuration in the big bang, but from his description of entropy, it seemed like it actually had high entropy. I was plagued with this question early on and got the answer only about 75% into the book.
The author keeps implying that the next paragraph or chapter will have an answer to the questions that he asks, but they never come. Only towards the end of the book did I feel that I wasn't being made to follow along with a promise that I could never reach.
Finally, expect some lame humor. Most of the times these are charming, geeky jokes that aren't funny but you appreciate the author's trying, but a few of them were flat out annoying. For example, the author says that a "loaf of raisin bread rising in the oven, with each galaxy represented by one of the raisins, is a terrible analogy of the universe". Why? Because: Raisin bread has an edge, it's inside an oven and it smells yummy, unlike the universe.
I nearly stopped reading the book after this, as it came early on in the book and I was worried most of the book would be like this (it's not). It tells me NOTHING about why the analogy is bad. Everything other than the universe has an edge, so every analogy will fail at that, and the two others are obviously ridiculous. I still don't know whether it really is a terrible analogy or not, because the author had to crack another one.
If you know to expect this kind of humor when reading the book, I'm sure it'd irritate you much less than it did me.