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The End of Time : the Next Revolution in Physics [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Nov 2001
Time is an illusion. Although the laws of physics create a powerful impression that time is flowing, in fact there are only timeless ¿nows¿. In The End of Time, the British theoretical physicist Julian Barbour describes the coming revolution in our understanding of the world: a quantum theory of the universe that brings together Einstein¿s general theory of relativity ¿ which denies the existence of a unique time ¿ and quantum mechanics ¿ which demands one. Barbour believes that only the most radical of ideas can resolve the conflict between these two theories: that there is, quite literally, no time at all. The End of Time is the first full-length account of the crisis in our understanding that has enveloped quantum cosmology. Unifying thinking that has never been brought together before in a book for the general reader, Barbour reveals the true architecture of the universe and demonstrates how physics is coming up sharp against the extraordinary possibility that the sense of time passing emerges from a universe that is timeless. The heart of the book is the author¿s lucid description of how a world of stillness can appear to be teeming with motion: in this timeless world where all possible instants coexist, complex mathematical rules of quantum mechanics bind together a special selection of these instants in a coherent order that consciousness perceives as the flow of time. Finally, in a lucid and eloquent epilogue, the author speculates on the philosophical implications of his theory: Does free will exist? Is time travel possible? How did the universe begin? Where is heaven? Does the denial of time make life meaningless? Written with exceptional clarity and elegance, this profound and original work presents a dazzlingly powerful argument that all will be able to follow, but no-one with an interest in the workings of the universe will be able to ignore.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc; Reprint edition (29 Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195145925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195145922
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 2.5 x 15.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,160,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The End of Time is a fascinating contribution to physics by a scholar and thinker who is taken seriously by physicists of the calibre of Wheeler and Smolin. But he has pursued a career outside the mainstream, living on a farm and refusing to get involved in traditional teaching and research. He argues that time is a purely local phenomenon, a way of seeing things, rather than something that actually meaningfully exists at the core of the universe. This consists of a vast agglomeration of Nows, single moments whose relationship with each other is intimate, but not intrinsically one of causation.

"If time is removed from the foundations of physics, we shall not all suddenly feel that the flow of time has ceased. On the contrary, new timeless principles will explain why we do feel that time flows. The pattern of the first great revolution will be repeated. Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler taught us that the Earth moves and rotates while the heavens stand still, but this did not change by one iota our direct perception that the heavens do move and that the Earth does not budge."

The many worlds hypothesis is also true and the worlds that derive from alternate possibility exist alongside each other moment by moment. Seeing things in this way solves the more recondite problems of quantum physics--Schrodinger's Cat is both dead, and alive, and never in the box in the first place and at a time before the box was thought of, and long dead all in a set of Nows that sit alongside each other in the Platonic realm which is underlying reality. There are no paradoxes because Sequence is an illusion: this is philosophical physics for those of us who like to have our brains hurt. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

A brilliant theoretical physicist argues that the solution to the ultimate question in science ¿ how to unify Einstein¿s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics ¿ is possible only if we abolish time from the foundations of the universe. In other words, despite our deepest intuitions, time does not exist. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I am highly impressed with this book. Dr. Barbour certainly provides a totally new perspective to the very fundamental concepts in Physics, and I think this is absolutely necessary to stimulate the thought process.
I am sure a lot of leading researchers may not agree with some of the cocepts that he has introduced. But this is Science. No theory can survive unless its predictions are verified by observation. Dr. Barbour has provided lot of materials, which if found true will simply destroy his theory. It certainly is not a Philosophical discussion and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Physics and enjoys pondering over the very fundamental questions of why the universe is as we see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as good as it gets 5 Nov 2010
Written both for the popular-science market and for scientists and philosophers, only the latter shall fully enjoy this remarkable book. Because they have developed their mind's eye, enabling them to see four-dimensional space-time or Riemannian spaces just as clearly as everyone can see a thing extended in two directions.
The author argues that the apparent passage of time is an illusion. If we could stand outside the universe and 'see it 'as it is'', it would appear to be static. This radical conclusion is reached by considering the most basic structure of Einstein''s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, the two fundamental theories of physics.
In particular, time is treated in completely different ways in the two theories. This presents a severe problem, since all serious workers in the field are convinced that the two theories must eventually be subsumed in a single over-arching theory. This will be the quantum theory of the universe (also called quantum gravity). The finding of this theory presents many great difficulties, of which the 'problem of time' is perhaps the most severe. It seems that a choice has to be made between two irreconcilable notions of time. The author argues that the only satisfactory solution is to abolish time altogether and outlines a timeless quantum theory of the universe.
Is included a proposed solution to one of the most intractable problems of physics : what is the origin of the so-called arrow of time? Why is it that all phenomena distinguish a common direction of time (i.e., why does entropy increase?), but the equations of physics are symmetric with respect to the direction of time? The equations of physics allow not only the shattering of a cup that is dropped on the floor but also the re-assembly of the pieces.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barbourian Hordes 15 May 2012
By malreux
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Julian Barbour, a well-known maverick at conferences, has managed to present his unorthodox views in a balanced and accessible way in this popular treatment. His singular vision ties together the various themes in a startling manner. The theory therein is exciting, disturbing, and invigorating.

Somehow a rather complex set of ideas incorporating the canonical approach to quantum gravity, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and Barbour's novel approach regarding configuration space are presented at a level anyone bothered to put the time in (ho ho) can understand. Generally, Barbour is good at laying out ideas in a simple manner, although he does occasionally transition from carefully explaining everything to quickly reeling off some technical sentence or other, albeit only in a minority of cases. He writes equations out in words, with some loss of technical generality, on the other hand. My main minor criticism of the book is his description of the wavefunction as three coloured 'mists'. Despite my training in QM, I got lost sometimes when trying to remember whether blue represented probability or position and so on.

I think the main reason the book works is because Barbour's theories are themselves usually only describable in qualitative terms anyway, since quite preliminary. I've often thought cutting edge ideas are often easier to explain than well-established ones, since often they only exist in qualitative form. And Barbour has a vision, a breathtaking vision, one that incorporates many themes that are now (2012) even 'hotter' then they were back in 1999, which I think is the original publication date. Barbour's approach to QG is fascinating, even if it should prove false.
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