The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics

Oxford University Press
7
Free sample

Richard Feynman once quipped that "Time is what happens when nothing else does." But Julian Barbour disagrees: if nothing happened, if nothing changed, then time would stop. For time is nothing but change. It is change that we perceive occurring all around us, not time. Put simply, time does not exist. In this highly provocative volume, Barbour presents the basic evidence for a timeless universe, and shows why we still experience the world as intensely temporal. It is a book that strikes at the heart of modern physics. It casts doubt on Einstein's greatest contribution, the spacetime continuum, but also points to the solution of one of the great paradoxes of modern science, the chasm between classical and quantum physics. Indeed, Barbour argues that the holy grail of physicists--the unification of Einstein's general relativity with quantum mechanics--may well spell the end of time. Barbour writes with remarkable clarity as he ranges from the ancient philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, through the giants of science Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, to the work of the contemporary physicists John Wheeler, Roger Penrose, and Steven Hawking. Along the way he treats us to enticing glimpses of some of the mysteries of the universe, and presents intriguing ideas about multiple worlds, time travel, immortality, and, above all, the illusion of motion. The End of Time is a vibrantly written and revolutionary book. It turns our understanding of reality inside-out.
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About the author

Julian Barbour is a theoretical physicist who has worked on foundational issues in physics and astronomy for 35 years. His first book, the widely praised The Discovery of Dynamics, has recently been republished in paperback. In 2000 the Association of American Publishers awarded The End of Time its prestigious award for excellence in the Physics & Astronomy section. Julian Barbour, a theoretical physicist, has worked on foundational issues in physics for 35 years. He is the author of the widely praised Absolute or Relative Motion?: Volume I, and is working on the second volume.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 29, 2001
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780199760893
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / General
Science / Physics / General
Science / Time
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Are there other dimensions beyond our own? Is time travel possible? Can we change the past? Are there gateways to parallel universes? All of us have pondered such questions, but there was a time when scientists dismissed these notions as outlandish speculations. Not any more. Today, they are the focus of the most intense scientific activity in recent memory. In Hyperspace, Michio Kaku, author of the widely acclaimed Beyond Einstein and a leading theoretical physicist, offers the first book-length tour of the most exciting (and perhaps most bizarre) work in modern physics, work which includes research on the tenth dimension, time warps, black holes, and multiple universes. The theory of hyperspace (or higher dimensional space)--and its newest wrinkle, superstring theory--stand at the center of this revolution, with adherents in every major research laboratory in the world, including several Nobel laureates. Beginning where Hawking's Brief History of Time left off, Kaku paints a vivid portrayal of the breakthroughs now rocking the physics establishment. Why all the excitement? As the author points out, for over half a century, scientists have puzzled over why the basic forces of the cosmos--gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces--require markedly different mathematical descriptions. But if we see these forces as vibrations in a higher dimensional space, their field equations suddenly fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, perfectly snug, in an elegant, astonishingly simple form. This may thus be our leading candidate for the Theory of Everything. If so, it would be the crowning achievement of 2,000 years of scientific investigation into matter and its forces. Already, the theory has inspired several thousand research papers, and has been the focus of over 200 international conferences. Michio Kaku is one of the leading pioneers in superstring theory and has been at the forefront of this revolution in modern physics. With Hyperspace, he has produced a book for general readers which conveys the vitality of the field and the excitement as scientists grapple with the meaning of space and time. It is an exhilarating look at physics today and an eye-opening glimpse into the ultimate nature of the universe.
Ever since Newton created dynamics, there has been controversy about its foundations. Are space and time absolute? Do they form a rigid but invisible framework and container of the universe? Or are space, time, and motion relative? If so, does Newton's 'framework' arise through the influence of the universe at large, as Ernst Mach suggested? Einstein's aim when creating his general theory of relativity was to demonstrate this and thereby implement 'Mach's Principle'. However, it is widely believed that he achieved only partial success. This question of whether motion is absolute or relative has been a central issues in philosophy; the nature of time has perennial interest. Current attempts to create a quantum description of the whole universe keep these issues at the cutting edge of modern research. Written by the world's leading expert on Mach's Principle, The Discovery of Dynamics is a highly original account of the development of notions about space, time, and motion. Widely praised in its hardback version, it is one of the fullest and most readable accounts of the astronomical studies that culminated in Kepler's laws of planetary motion and of the creation of dynamics by Galileo, Descartes, Huygens, and Newton. Originally published as Absolute or Relative Motion?, Vol. 1: The Discovery of Dynamics (Cambridge), The Discovery of Dynamics provides the technical background to Barbour's recently published The End of Time, in which he argues that time disappears from the description of the quantum universe.
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.
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