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Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe Paperback – 8 Apr 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (8 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544245598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544245594
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,268,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Was Einstein wrong? At least in his understanding of time, Smolin argues, the great theorist of relativity was dead wrong. What is worse, by firmly enshrining his error in scientific orthodoxy, Einstein trapped his successors in insoluble dilemmas as they try to devise timeless laws explaining the origins and structure of the cosmos. How, Smolin asks, can such laws account for the highly improbable set of conditions that triggered the Big Bang jump-starting the universe? How, Smolin further wants to know, can scientists ever empirically test their timeless cosmic hypotheses? With rare conceptual daring, Smolin beckons toward a new perspective for doing cosmological theory, a perspective allowing Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason to open surprising possibilities. This horizon not only readmits time as a reality; it enshrines time as the reality, the indispensable point of flux allowing everything else, including the laws of matter and energy, to evolve and change. Embracing time as real, Smolin asserts, will allow cosmologists to convert laws once regarded as timeless into the contingent data they need to develop testable new theories of galactic evolution. More immediately, Smolin anticipates that this paradigm shift will help climatologists understand global warming and economists to ameliorate financial turbulence. A thrilling intellectual ride!"
--"Booklist," STARRED review
"Contrary to Plato and Einstein, theoretical physicist Smolin ("The Trouble with Physics") asserts that 'not only is time real, but nothing we know or experience gets closer to the heart of nature than the reality of time.' Though time has always been a quantity to measure, the author explains that in the 17th century, scientists began wondering whether 'the world is in essence mathematical or it lives in time.' Newton's laws of motion made time irrelevant, and 'Einstein's two theories of relativity are, at their most basic, theories of time--or, better, timelessness.' Galileo a

"Was Einstein wrong? At least in his understanding of time, Smolin argues, the great theorist of relativity was dead wrong. What is worse, by firmly enshrining his error in scientific orthodoxy, Einstein trapped his successors in insoluble dilemmas as they try to devise timeless laws explaining the origins and structure of the cosmos. How, Smolin asks, can such laws account for the highly improbable set of conditions that triggered the Big Bang jump-starting the universe? How, Smolin further wants to know, can scientists ever empirically test their timeless cosmic hypotheses? With rare conceptual daring, Smolin beckons toward a new perspective for doing cosmological theory, a perspective allowing Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason to open surprising possibilities. This horizon not only readmits time as a reality; it enshrines time as the reality, the indispensable point of flux allowing everything else, including the laws of matter and energy, to evolve and change. Embracing time as real, Smolin asserts, will allow cosmologists to convert laws once regarded as timeless into the contingent data they need to develop testable new theories of galactic evolution. More immediately, Smolin anticipates that this paradigm shift will help climatologists understand global warming and economists to ameliorate financial turbulence. A thrilling intellectual ride!" -- "Booklist", STARRED review

"Contrary to Plato and Einstein, theoretical physicist Smolin (The Trouble with Physics) asserts that 'not only is time real, but nothing we know or experience gets closer to the heart of nature than the reality of time.' Though time has always been a quantity to measure, the author explains that in the 17th century, scientists began wondering whether 'the world is in essence mathematical or it lives in time.' Newton's laws of motion made time irrelevant, and 'Einstein's two theories of relativity are, at their most basic, theories of time--or, better, timelessness.' Galileo and

"[Smolin's] book, a mix of science, philosophy and science fiction, is at once entertaining, thought-provoking, fabulously ambitious and fabulously speculative." --"The New York Times" "Provocative, original, and unsettling." --"The New York Review of Books" "Brilliant...Smolin gives what is, for me, the best analysis of the nature of time from a physics viewpoint in a popular science book I have ever seen." --"Popular Science" "Smolin provides a much-needed dose of clarity about time, with implications that go far beyond physics to economics, politics, and personal philosophy. An essential book for physicists and non-physicists alike, "Time Reborn" offers a path to better theory and potentially to a better society." --Jaron Lanier, author of "You Are Not a Gadget" and "The Fate of Power and the Future of Dignity" "Applying his deep mastery of cosmology, quantum mechanics, general relativity and all the diverse attempts at quantum gravity, in "Time Reborn"Lee Smolin weaves a convincing and entirely new view of reality. He shows us how contemporary physics eliminates time and argues persuasively that any adequate cosmology rests on making time and 'now' fundamental." --Stuart Kauffman, University of Vermont, author of "At Home in the Universe" "Smolin is an excellent writer, a creative thinker and is ecumenical in the way he covers so many different branches of thought. Even as I mentally argued with this book, I kept on ploughing through to see how Smolin dealt with the objections. I would love to sit down with him over a drink and debate the ins and outs of his theory. And that is how this book should be read: as an account that makes you ask questions." --"Nature" "An entertaining, head-spinning and, yes, timely blend of philosophy, science, and speculation to put the Now back into physics." --"The Telegraph" "An energetic case for a paradigm shift that could produce mind-boggling changes in the way we experience our world." --"Publishers Weekly" "A thoughtful, complex re-evaluation of the role of time in the universe...A flood of ideas from an imaginative thinker." --"Kirkus "

"With rare conceptual daring, Smolin beckons toward a new perspective for doing cosmological theory...A thrilling intellectual ride!"--"Booklist "(starred review)

"[Smolin s] book, a mix of science, philosophy and science fiction, is at once entertaining, thought-provoking, fabulously ambitious and fabulously speculative." The New York Times

"Provocative, original, and unsettling." The New York Review of Books

"Brilliant Smolin gives what is, for me, the best analysis of the nature of time from a physics viewpoint in a popular science book I have ever seen." Popular Science

"Smolin provides a much-needed dose of clarity about time, with implications that go far beyond physics to economics, politics, and personal philosophy. An essential book for physicists and non-physicists alike, Time Reborn offers a path to better theory and potentially to a better society." Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget and The Fate of Power and the Future of Dignity

"Applying his deep mastery of cosmology, quantum mechanics, general relativity and all the diverse attempts at quantum gravity, in Time Reborn Lee Smolin weaves a convincing and entirely new view of reality. He shows us how contemporary physics eliminates time and argues persuasively that any adequate cosmology rests on making time and now fundamental." Stuart Kauffman, University of Vermont, author of At Home in the Universe

"Smolin is an excellent writer, a creative thinker and is ecumenical in the way he covers so many different branches of thought. Even as I mentally argued with this book, I kept on ploughing through to see how Smolin dealt with the objections. I would love to sit down with him over a drink and debate the ins and outs of his theory. And that is how this book should be read: as an account that makes you ask questions." Nature

"An entertaining, head-spinning and, yes, timely blend of philosophy, science, and speculation to put the Now back into physics." The Telegraph

"An energetic case for a paradigm shift that could produce mind-boggling changes in the way we experience our world." Publishers Weekly

"A thoughtful, complex re-evaluation of the role of time in the universe A flood of ideas from an imaginative thinker." Kirkus

"With rare conceptual daring, Smolin beckons toward a new perspective for doing cosmological theory A thrilling intellectual ride!" Booklist (starred review)"

From the Back Cover

"If you are looking for a bracing alternative vision of physics built from the ground up, Smolin's Time Reborn will take you to the mountaintop." NPR
What is time?
It s the sort of question we rarely ask because it seems so obvious. And yet, to a physicist, time is simply a human construct and an illusion. If you could somehow get outside the universe and observe it from there, you would see that every moment has always existed and always will. Lee Smolin disagrees, and in Time Reborn he lays out the case why.
Recent developments in physics and cosmology point toward the reality of time and the openness of the future. Smolin s groundbreaking theory postulates that physical laws can evolve over time and the future is not yet determined. Newton s fundamental laws may not remain so fundamental. Time Reborn serves as a popular primer and investigation of time, both what it is and how the true nature of it impacts our world.
"He challenges not only Einstein s relativity, but also the very notion of natural laws as immutable truths." Economist
One of the essential books of the twenty-first century . . . Smolin provides a much-needed dose of clarity about time, with implications that go far beyond physics to economics, politics, and personal philosophy. Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget

"

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lee Smolin's book is largely accessible (more on this later) and simply mind-boggling in its scope. What he does here is take on time, and specifically the position of time in physics. Even taken as a simple book on time this is brilliant. The fact is, the majority of books that claim to be about time tell you nothing. It's striking that A Brief History of Time tells us that amongst a list of deep scientific questions that have answers suggested by `Recent breakthroughs in physics, made possible in part by fantastic new technologies', is `What is the nature of time?' But you can search the book from end to end for any suggestion of what time is or how it works. There is plenty on how we observe time, and how interaction with matter can change these observations, but nothing deeper.

Smolin gives what is, for me, the best analysis of the nature of time from a physics viewpoint in a popular science book I have ever seen. He goes on to describe how most physicists consider that `time does not exist', and comes up with an approach where time becomes real in physics. Now I do have one issue with Smolin here. He says that amongst his non-scientific friends `the idea that time is an illusion is a... commonplace.' This is garbage (or at least his friends are non-representative). The vast majority of people who aren't physicists or philosophers would say `Of course time exists.' However, Smolin sets off to first persuade us it doesn't, using the most common arguments of current physics, and then to show how this is a mistake.

In fact, I think the reason most people wouldn't agree is because it isn't really true that modern physics says time doesn't exist.
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Physics has encountered a tough problem in explaining why the fundamental constants which define the masses, charges and interactions of particles have the values they do. This impasse, decades in duration, was analysed by Lee Smolin in his 2006 book, "The Trouble with Physics".

Foremost among attempts at its resolution are schemes containing a plethora of universes, possibly an infinitude, of which our local one just happens to be the way it is; if it weren't we would not be here to wonder about these things. Hardly a falsifiable proposition, and therefore not scientific, as Smolin points out.

Mind you, his preferred scenario is also replete with universes, though in his universes a selection mechanism is at work which zones in on our particular cosmic environment as a fruitful one for propagation of more universes via black holes. Cosmic "genes" (fundamental constants, initial conditions) that are good for production of black holes are good also for galaxies, stars, planets and, ultimately, us. This theory is at least capable of making predictions which are falsifiable (or not) using available data sources.

Time is implicit in his hypothetical process. But universal time is associated with the concept of simultaneity which is ruled out by relativity. Smolin and his associates are working on a resolution of this conflict which might, as a bonus, explain non-local aspects of quantum entanglement without invoking the notorious hidden variables which have themselves been pretty well ruled out by clashes with Bell's theorem.

So far, nothing has come of this approach, though the reality of time is supported by the emergence of complexity in a universe which should by rights be heading for equilibrium.
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Format: Hardcover
Lee Smolin has truly made a book that does make you think very differently about time. His arguments are provocative and perhaps controversial but that is a good thing. I love that his emphasis is always on making his theories as amenable to experiment as possible. Having read the book I am especially swayed by his arguments about trying to build a cosmological theory that is not based on what he calls the "physics in a box" theories which always involve boundary conditions. The most important thing about this book is that it is easy to read and engaging. Another reviewer was horrified that he was promoting a nonlocal hidden variables theory, but at least he has made a justification for it and his focus is always in trying to build such a justification for a new theory that will be experimentally falsifiable. I also rather like his ensemble-interpretation of quantum physics because it at least is trying to make the theory based on real-ensembles. Almost throughout the book this falsifiability is his main commitment, and if it was throughout the whole book then I would have given it 5 stars. However, he recapitulates in the epilogue and claims that there are things that are probably "intrinsic" and "essence-like" and seems to hark back to dualist and unfalsifiable theories of consciousness. Though this is a tiny section of the book it scares me that he would build such a wonderful relational justification for the universe and then discard it because he can't "see" how consciousness would fit into it. He drives a difficult path through the mire and then seems to jump on an easy one at the end for a bit of light relief!Read more ›
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