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About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution (Penguin Science) [Paperback]

Paul Davies
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 April 1996 Penguin Science

In About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution Paul Davies confronts the puzzles and paradoxes of time that have bemused the world's greatest thinkers throughout the ages.

When Albert Einstein formulated his theory of relativity it brought about a revolution in our understanding of time, yet also presented a new set of mysteries. Einstein's time can be warped, leading to bizarre possibilities such as black holes and time travel, while making a nonsense of our perception of a 'now' or a division of time into past, present and future.

In About Time Paul Davies tackles the tough questions about time, including the strange relationship between physical time and our psychological perception of it. He gives straightforward descriptions of topics such as the theory of relativity, the relation between time dilation and the speed of light and Hawking's 'imaginary time'. He concludes that, despite decades of progress in unravelling the mysteries of time, the revolution is still underway...

Praise for About Time

'Confirms his place as one of the most lucid and readable science writers today'
  Sunday Times

'Intriguing and important ... a fascinating discussion of why Einstein's can't be the last word on the subject'
  Independent on Sunday

'Sublime stuff for armchair physicists'

'A tour of some of the most exciting - and outlandish - work in modern physics ... Writing with passion and wit, he lets his scientific message shine through'
  New Statesman

Paul Davies is Director of the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative, both at Arizona State University. An internationally-acclaimed physicist, writer and broadcaster, Davies is the author of some twenty award-winning books, including The Eerie Silence: Searching for Ourselves in the Universe, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? and The Mind of God: Science and the Search for Ultimate Meaning.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 April 1996)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0140174613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140174618
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Intriguing and important... a fascinating discussion of why Einstein's can
be the last word on the subject' -- Independent on Sunday

'Sublime stuff for armchair physicists' -- Guardian

'A tour of some of the most exciting - and outlandish - work in
modern physics... Writing with passion and wit, he lets his scientific
message shine through'
-- New Statesman

About the Author

Paul Davies is an internationally acclaimed physicist, writer and broadcaster, now based in South Australia. He is the author of some twenty award-winning books, including The Mind of God and The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In this book Paul Davies provides a comprehensive, brilliant discussion of the nature of time. Beginning with Einstein's revolution which abolished the classical view of absolute time and space, Davies ranges widely into the scientific and philosophical ramifications of relativity. The bottom line is that our "common sense" notions of past, present, and future and our perception of time as flowng from present into future are distortions of reality. Instead of a flowing time that moves from present to future, time is actually a block of past, present, and future that is simply "there." The common sense notion of past, present, and future must be discarded if we are to understand the nature of time.Davies' discussion of time is exhaustive. And, while the book is difficult, particularly to a non-scientist like me, Davies has a gift for explaining very complex ideas in a way that a layperson can comprehend (but with effort; this is not casual reading!). Davies' prose is elegant and clear. He provides interesting insights into the lives of major scientific figures, particularly Einstein. And, he has a likable sense of humor. This book was a JOY TO READ.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and informative 8 July 2002
By A Customer
Time has become a huge subject, particularly since Hawking set pen to paper, and raised the popular science bar. Davis's book shows just how many aspects of time can be considered, and how many unanswered questions remain after Einstein and others blew the concept apart early in the 20th century.
Each chapter is largely self-contained, is intelligent and accesible, and manages not to patronise - a flaw of so much of the popular science genre. The scientist biographies are there of course, as are the obligatory Feynman diagrams, but what sets this apart from similar books are the chapters on perception. "What time is now" is superbly thought-provoking, as it explores how our minds perceive each moment of time... novel and just a little frightening
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As an A-level student I found this book a great insight into the world of theoretical physics - expressed in lay terms. It doesn't take a great deal of scientific knowledge to understand the principles that Davies tries to convey, making this a very enjoyable and fascinating read.
His explanations of Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity are concise and explained rigorously using conceivable scenarios. I enjoyed this very much and hope that others will enjoy this book as much as I did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a masterpiece. I have read all of the relativity/time books by Hawking, Feynman, Rohrlich, etc., and this is the best by far. It is extremely easy to understand, plus Davies presents ideas that most authors leave out (such as Wheeler's single particle universe). If you have any interest in relativity or the nature of time, read this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We still don't know what it is. 19 Nov 1998
By A Customer
If you've ever wondered what is time, where did it come from, does it flow, why does it seem to go in one direction, will it have an end, or is it slowing down, you'll not find your answers in Paul Davies' book "About Time." Neither are you likely to find your answers anywhere else. For me, the most profound knowledge that came from reading Davies' book is the reminder that we really don't know what time is. We live in it, experience it, but really - on a fundamental level - fail to comprehend it.
Davies has subtitled his book "Einstein's unfinished revolution," and he does an excellent job of exposing the reader to some of the unexpected (from a common-sense point of view) conclusions we draw about time from the special and general theories of relativity. He offers an interesting historical perspective on the life of Einstein, and how he developed his theories. Davies also provides some interesting background on experiments that have validated Einstein's space-time, reviewing the qualitative results from some of the more important experiments.
After this introduction to the non-universal time of relativity, Davies takes us to the ultimate time machine: black holes. He offers some interesting explanations about what an imaginary traveler to a black hole might see looking out, and how we - looking in - might view the hapless victim as she neared the event horizon.
As the book progresses, conclusions and examples become less and less concrete. Relative time is a proven fact, and most physicists consider black holes a foregone conclusion. From there, Davies takes us to the very root of some of the biggest issues in cosmology: the origin of time and the age of the universe.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - It really makes your head spin! 14 Jun 1999
By A Customer
My only criticism with this book is that the first chapter is a bit too long and philosopihical, so it takes a while to get into, but if you enjoy philosophy then it is not a problem, and if you don't then you can just skip it without losing any of the understanding of the theories that come later. He presents loads of different and amazing theories from different areas of physics and brings them all together near the end, and has one of the best explanations of the Twins Paradox and relativity that I have seen so far in a popular science book. It's impossible to put down, and your perspective of the universe will be completely different after reading it - it is amazing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars love it
love this sort of book, somewhere out there is a book that will make it all fall into place
I just need t okeep looking.
Published 8 months ago by Mr. G. Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Could do even better!
My 1995 edition, although written in the author's usual forthright and entertaining way, does contain a few basic errors. Read more
Published 16 months ago by petercw5
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
I found this to be this an incredibly engaging and gripping read, and often didn't want to put it down, in spite of the heavy (you would think) subject matter and the fact that... Read more
Published on 18 Jan 2012 by Fiver
5.0 out of 5 stars world class popularizer
Unfortunately, though cosmology is only the crudest projection of their abstractions by some physicists on the cosmos, it has become a staple of pop philosophy. Read more
Published on 12 July 2011 by rob crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Make Time For This
The author writes in a comprehensible manner that is both engaging and informative that leaves you wanting to read more of his work. Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2011 by nicholas hargreaves
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look into how time is understood in physics
Out of the 4 Paul Davies books I have read, while they all have been enjoyable this is probably his best. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly great
This book is fascinating. The Author has done a great job of explaining some quite tricky concepts, and the book is really easy to read. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2002 by PW
5.0 out of 5 stars Line drawings make for "LINE DRAWING-TASTIC" read
This book has some absolutely fabulous line drawings. I, being an easily amused high school, stared at these beautiful renderings for hours without even contemplating their... Read more
Published on 26 May 1999
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