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on 2 July 2014
Really good. If you are thinking of reading this book then look at 'The Trouble with Physics' also by Lee Smolin.
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on 9 December 2014
Maybe I am just not smart enough but I found a lot of the concept hard to follow . I may have to read it again.
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on 26 June 2013
A - much needed - whole new approach to fundamental physics, breaking away from the Newtonian view of time. A must read... and a good read.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
Time has reality,it runs and we age.To Einstein the passing of time( and to theoretical physicists) was an illusion.Difficulties that face contemporary physicists-eg the difficulties of bringing reality into line with the rest of currently accepted reality-lies in overturning this orthodoxy and reaffirming the view non-physicistshare, their experience of the reality of time.The reason physicists have come to reject the reality of time,is their bewitchment by the beauty and success of the mathematical models they use into mistaking these models for reality. Timelessness,though not a feature of our world,is a feature of mathematics.Timeless truths,like 2+2=4,are eternal truths.If we can have timeless truths in mathematics,why not in physics?We forget that the objects of mathematics-numbers,curves etc-do not exist,whereas physics concerns itself with what does exist,and in the domain of things that do exist,time is inescapable. The postulation of timeless mathematical laws is never completely innocent, for it always carries a trace of the metaphysical fantasy of transcendence from our earthly world.Either the world is in essence mathematical or it lives in time.Husserl spoke of the"mathematisation of Nature".Galileo and Newton played their part,the 1st for discovering that falling bodies are described by a simple mathematical curve, the 2nd for showing that the force that impels those falling bodies along that curve is the same force that impels the earth along its path around the sun and that sends apples crashing to the ground.After Newton we lived in a single, unified world as eternal and divine as a mathematical curve.

Though Newton's theories of gravity were superseded by Einstein's,the world of general relativity,no less than Newton's laws of motion,is still represented by a mathematical object,and it still invites us to regard the world(mistakenly) as pristine and timeless.When we deny the reality of time,we are confusing a mathematicalmodel with what it is modelling.Even the laws of physics evolve and change over time.Theories of multiple universes may be based on fundamental misconceptions.This book is aimed at the general reader,and is very easy to grasp,without jargon.Even if everybody believes an idea in a field of physics,that can't be shown,then you should challenge it,investigate the opposite.He's following in a tradition of Pierce (philosopher) and Dirac,that laws evolve in time.If the universe is emulatable by a computer,then we are also emulatable by a computer.Therefore you'd be able to make a computer that was conscious,as intelligent as we are,in artificial intelligence.If the present moment is real,then there is not a precise mathematical model of reality.He's for Leibnitz's theory of a whole universe based on the principle of sufficient reason,where everything lives not in space but in a network of relationships.

There is no mathematical model for the flow of present moments.The world works fundamentally in time,there is no timeless purity.There is room for our imaginations, novel ideas, works of art,solutions to our political problems. We're not just atoms moving around in empty space, obeying mathematical laws.There is no equilibrium, just change and time. Everything changes and everything evolves,so that as human beings we work this change and evolve our societies and our thinking.This colours our conception of who we are,what the meaning of life is.The experience we have of life in time is driven by deep needs that include ourselves.Our conception of who we are is coloured by everything we love and look forward to,not as epiphenomena, illusions,that would alienate us from our deepest needs.We must liberate ourselves from false metaphysics or the real world being a transcendent, timeless, mathematical world to a picture of nature in which it's still governed by those laws,but in which novelty,the present moment is real and in which our experiences have a real place in the natural world.Our view becomes more optimistic.

In economics there is supposed equilibrium if the market's left to itself.This is not the way real markets function. They are historical,time-dependent,based on change. But the dogma is there is one equilibrium,which you should not interfere with or regulate.But when many equilibria are possible,the notion that politics plays a role becomes paramount,the notion that regulation make sure you're in an equilibrium with some conception that people are treated with fairness,and there is some stability and justice in the market become important.History and politics change.Politics should not be a war between static positions,it should be the art of proposing novel solutions.Ourdesire should be to work this change into our thinking for the best happiness of everybody.He rules religion out because of the 2 rules that govern science and also govern how a democratic society works:if there is an issue that can be decided by appeal to the evidence,by rational argument from the evidence,we must so decide.

This is the way juries work,parliaments work and science.If a prediction goes against him or an experiment,he's prepared to say the idea is wrong.As long as people of faith are willing to concede those theories he has definitive proof about,theory of evolution, the human causes of climate change,he's happy to live in a pluralistic society in which people believe in metaphysical things of a religion that he doesn't believe.He's for the public understanding of science(hence the clarity),hes' willing to take them into the process of science in the making. He's willing to expose ideas he can make a scientific case for,which are not yet demonstrated by experiment,and he trusts the public have the interest and the maturity to know how to separate a discussion about science in progress from a report about science that's been settled.Science is dependent upon the public good will because in particle physics,astronomy,cosmology,the experiments and observations are very expensive, they need the public to understand the adventure that they're on in order to have the support,that they're spending the money for good reasons for matters of fundamental importance,deepening our knowledge of nature. He's cleverly left out the maths or put difficult stuff online so we can follow the ideas. One of the best science books I've read in some time.
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on 10 October 2013
I read a great deal of this stuff despite being neither a mathematician nor a physicist. This is a complex and demanding read but deeply satisfying. It sustains a well substantiated argument from page one to the end. The basic proposition is that , like everything else, the universe evolves and this requires time therefore time is real and if that is the case then it is difficult to posit a case for continuous equilibrium.Smolin is particularly good on the physics/philosophy interface and is prepared to own up to the areas he struggles with.He points out with a logic often overlooked by the more Messianic statements from the 'universe in a box' school that while Maths is a great explainer and sophisticated language it is not the causal driver of the universe. There were bits I struggled with such as how an infinite universe hits a boundary but this was a great and enhancing read.
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on 16 July 2013
This book starts well , summarizing what is known about the nature of time. however later in the book the arguments became more vague, and I became somewhat confused as what the proposition was. The conclusion / epilogue wandered off to another topic, instead of wrapping up the proposition. Worth reading at a low price.
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on 25 June 2013
As a reader with a PhD in Physics, I found this book interesting as a kind of diversion from more mundane things. There is a rundown of modern physics which, as far as I can judge, is somewhat accurate, and some interesting "personal to the author" speculative takes. My five stars on Amazon is NO WAY an endorsement of the thesis of this book!
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on 7 October 2013
i am a 2nd year studying physics, so i thought i would give this book a go. I'm glad i did, it really makes you think but still is easy to understand. I'm still not sure if i believe time is real or an illusion, but i will keep thinking about for the rest of my life im sure
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on 14 June 2013
It's a shame he strayed outside his field into climate change and economics, otherwise an interesting theory. Give it a go.
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on 3 October 2014
Time Reborn Lee Smolin, "Is the elephant in the room wearing the emperor's new robe?" M.Marsden

While I respect professor Smolin and his work, and I completely agree there is a crisis with the theory of time, but I have a fundamental problem with the reasoning behind this book from the outset. Because, it starts from the position "time is real", as opposed to checking our most basic observations and building from there. E.g. that "matter seems to exist", and "matter seems to be moving and interacting within and around us".

I think if Lee Smolin built up logically from these simple, checkable observations, (that things `just' exist, and `are' moving and interacting) he might find that they alone may be enough to mislead us into (imo probably wrongly) assuming terms like the "past", "future" and thus "time" are scientifically valid ( as opposed to just being (admittedly very useful) `ideas').

For example, in the preface of "Time Reborn" it is suggested...

1-Whatever is real in our universe is real in a moment of time, which is one of a succession of moments.

2-The past was real but is no longer real. We can, however, interpret and analyze the past, because we find evidence of past processes in the present.

3-The future does not yet exist and is therefore open. We can reasonably infer some predictions, but we cannot predict the future completely. Indeed, the future can produce phenomena that are genuinely novel, in the sense that no knowledge of the past could have anticipated them.

4-Nothing transcends time, not even the laws of nature. Laws are not timeless. Like everything else, they are features of the present, and they can evolve over time.

(Smolin, Lee. Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe (Kindle Locations 132-133). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition. My numbering)

But if we consider each of these suggestions objectively, without just taking common assumptions as `probably' being true, then I think the following possible flaws are found...

1-Whatever is real in our universe is real in a moment of time, which is one of a succession of moments.

Despite the idea that there are "moments", and "successions of moments", this does not seem to be actually observed, or scientifically proven. All we seem to observe is a vast collection of matter, each part of which, seems always and only to be somewhere, doing something, moving and changing.

Comparing some motion, to the motion of a hand rotating on a numbered dial, does not prove there are `moments' or successions of moments, it is only if we just assume there are `moments' , we see nothing to disprove this. (which is in no way a scientific proof our assumption is correct).

2-The past was real but is no longer real. We can, however, interpret and analyze the past, because we find evidence of past processes in the present.

This quote implies there is a thing or place called "the past", that might be legitimately scientifically discussed, but no experimental proof exists to show this is more than just an idea. If a human is looking at an example of motion, some of the physical contents of their brain may indeed be being reorganised. And we may wish to `call' these patterns "memories of `the past'" , but themselves they prove only that matter `is' existing, and interacting , and not that a thing called `time' also exists, and involves a `past'.

Also the statement "The past was real but is no longer real", is , with respect, illogical...
A key question that needs to be answered here, may be,

Q- "is there a 'past', or is there not a `past, but only a mistaken and confusing idea of a `past'... that leads to (imo) self invalidating sentences like... "The past was real but is no longer real"?

The suggestion "We can, however, interpret and analyze the past, because we find evidence of past processes in t, he present. " seems invalid, because all the evidence we see around us seems only to prove that "matter exists, and `is' moving and interacting". Therefore we cannot analyze `the past', or prove it is a valid concept, we can only analyse the patterns in our minds, and the formations of matter around us.

3-The future does not yet exist and is therefore open. We can reasonably infer some predictions, but we cannot predict the future completely. Indeed, the future can produce phenomena that are genuinely novel, in the sense that no knowledge of the past could have anticipated them.

Without substantial proof, as per the scientific method, I would suggest the term `the future' may be invalid, and reference only an `idea' within human minds. As such the `idea' proves only that matter exists, and can be coaxed into intricate formations in human minds. The idea of `the future' may make the basis for a theory and hypothesis, which thus needs scientific proof, none of which seems evident.

The suggestion "We can reasonably infer some predictions", used the word "predictions", which implies there is a `future', that we can predict. I would suggest that while we may write down `it will rain' on a piece of paper all this proves is that matter (us, the pen, the paper) exist, and can `be' interacting. The atmosphere around us is also changing, but this proves only that matter ( air, water etc) exists, and is moving and interacting. At no point do we see anything come out of , or go into a `future', so claiming our note is a `prediction', of a `future', is, imo invalid, unless one can prove the matter in the universe is not "just" existing and interacting constantly in countless ways.

Re: "the future can produce phenomena that are genuinely novel",
I would suggest there only seems to be a consistent set of universal matter, which under the laws of nature, and intelligent manipulation, where energy is available, can be constantly being configured in countless ways, all of which are just, always, possible.
To suggest a thing called "the future" also exists, and, extra to the laws of nature and energy, produces each formation does not seem to be observed. E.g. Watch an approaching cloud, it "is" changing as it "is" approaching, but all of its matter seems only to exist, and we don't actually seem to see any thing, or phenomena "come out of", or proof of , the existence of a "future".

4-Nothing transcends time, not even the laws of nature. Laws are not timeless. Like everything else, they are features of the present, and they can evolve over time.

This statement is only true IF a thing called "time" exists. The laws of nature seem only to show how matter is existing, and how it is interacting in all locations. The suggestion "these laws are not timeless" , would need to be verified by an experiment that showed that extra to energy, physical interactions `also' need a thing called `time' to be existing and `passing', and a valid reason for even suspecting this (let alone a proof), should be given.

It is agreed the laws of nature themselves may `be' changing, and changing in all locations, and in all directions, but to say they `can evolve over time', one would have to prove time exists, and explain what `over' time meant.

More to the point I suggest that any of the statements above need to be shown to require more than "just matter existing and interacting" to be valid, for the more complex conclusion that `a thing called time also exists' to be reasonable proven, rather than just an accepted, (and probably very misleading from the start) Argumentum ad populum, that a thing called time must exist'.

The fact, extra to just personal opinion, and shared assumptions, there seems to be no scientific proof, or experiments as per the scientific method, to demonstrate that `the past', `the future', or `time' are more than useful ways of describing motion - but no scientist seems to notice or care about this - seems to me to be the "elephant in the room" here, and the fact many people seem to just accept that a completely unobservable `past, and completely unobservable `future', and completely unobservable thing called `time'... just exist `exist' makes as much sense as proving a naked emperor proves invisible clothes exist, hence I wonder not is time reborn, but whether the elephant in the room is indeed wearing the emperor's new robe.

Matthew Marsden. (Auth).
A Brief History of Time-lessness (r2): "Does Time exist?", "What is Time?","Is Time-Travel possible?" - We examine how all these questions may unfounded, if everything is 'timeless'.
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