Such a concept might seem a scientific splitting of hairs, except that it has a profound Implication: Since the past is always the domain of lesser entropy, time, the gradient of entropy, can run in opposite directions simultaneously. The past is a conjecture, a supposition made on the basis of incomplete information, not a fact. Barbour believes that there are evolutionary reasons for our creation of the idea of time.
In short, time is a survival tactic, an expediency which may no longer be expedient. What it is not is a physical reality. Instants, what Barbour calls Nows, are things. It is challenging because it reveals the depth of presumption about the world that we carry around with us nonchalantly. Exposing these unwarranted presumptions is often a matter of confronting not just common sense but an entire culture of thought that has worked reasonably well. Neither Luther nor Barbour could have a clear idea of the consequences. To see how badly the subject can be written about, consult this academic text on time.
View all 19 comments. Sep 22, Rob rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Barbour seems to have tried to make his book accessible to the "educated layman", but people who don't have a degree in physics will probably find this book to be totally impenetrable. I got interested in this book after attending a seminar given by Barbour at the University of New Brunswick.
Apr 22, Lauren rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is absolutely one of my favourite science books. I picked it up initially because the premise fascinated me. The nonexistence as an objective reality, mind you of time was something I've always sort of intuited, and to see physics exploring the same conclusions immediately sparked my interest. Ironically, though, that is not the strongest part of this book.
I think any good science book should not only explain to you a theory and its application, but give you the context as well. A good sc This is absolutely one of my favourite science books. A good science book will teach you why the idea it presents is important, what its impact might be if true, and most importantly it will teach you anything you need to know about the subject in this case, Physics to understand the idea, from the ground up. And a good science book will do this without dumbing things down.
This is a good science book, for all those reasons and more. In fact, this book taught me much of what I know about theoretical physics. Barbour's history as a science historian also shows, as he explores not only the idea but his personal story of how he began to come to these conclusions and his quest to find a way to test them. At its heart, this book espouses a whole philosophy about the universe, and a revolutionary one at that. It is a counter argument to both string theory and western religion.
It is one of the most fascinating things you will ever read, if you have the tenacity to make it through to the end. But the best thing about this book is that it understands its own ideas may not be true, and in fact in the great tradition of science probably aren't. And it goes on to tell us that this is okay, because that is how science works, and because these are things we need to be exploring anyway. This book will teach you physics, challenge your philosophy, and leave you with a new appreciation for science and the universe.
Barbour is a credit to the world. During the reading of this book was the first and probably only time in my life when I have ever uttered the phrase "aww, poor quantum wave packets! I strongly suspect the main problem is that I was too stupid and distractable to do a good job reading this, but as far as I could glean: This book contains, in order of most pages devoted to the least: I know that there is legitimacy to the claim that being inside the system that defines the status quo can make people more reluctant to accept different or difficult ideas, but that is not evidence either way for whether that different or difficult idea is true.
And maybe it does make sense to sort of pepper the entire human landscape with your ideas by presenting them to public. I just don't know if writing this pop science book really helped. I've noticed this problem, where a scientist tries to educate non-scientists by writing a book, because that is the best way to get to the public, except that the book just goes on and on and could have been much clearer and more effective if it had been concise, like an article.
Is it that people won't buy a pop science book if it's too short? I mean, if you're going to take out absolutely all of the actual science and dumb it down for the public to read, why make them read pages if there's not that much information left? I would have gladly read an entire book on the subject, if the entire book had been illuminating and explanatory. Mar 05, Erik rated it really liked it. Julian Barbour is the foremost representative of the Machian view of physics, epitomized by the idea that time disappears on the cosmological view replaced by the comparison of changes with changes within time.
There is no time for the universe itself. He also has an explanation of why there seems to be time in terms of traces and time-capsules which result from qu Julian Barbour is the foremost representative of the Machian view of physics, epitomized by the idea that time disappears on the cosmological view replaced by the comparison of changes with changes within time. He also has an explanation of why there seems to be time in terms of traces and time-capsules which result from quantum measurements or branching depending on your view.
I'm sympathetic to Barbour, but if you were not, he doesn't do a very good job of discussing alternatives and a crucial issue, the relativity of rotation does not get mentioned. He just formulates GTR in a timeless relational framework and I guess the physical invariance or relativity of rotating reference frames you are supposed to get out of that. I didn't see that however, nor did I see a mechanism for the exchange of inertia and gravitation in different rotating frames.
I did see an interesting explanation of inertial or force-free frames as islands within a dynamical universe, and the so-called un-Machian solutions of GTR would then be interpreted as such islands seemingly free of force, but really just special cases of a dynamics of matter, space and force. Jan 09, Nicholas rated it liked it Shelves: I was too far into this before it became a chore, and feeling unable to rescind the investment I'd made, I ploughed on. The problem for me was mainly one of clarity and lack of allegorical description when dealing with complex theories, which I felt should have been present in a work aimed at a lay readership a part of which I presumed myself to be.
There seemed to be a lack in the consistency of the intellectual level of to whom the book is addressed. On the one hand you are reminded of Pythago I was too far into this before it became a chore, and feeling unable to rescind the investment I'd made, I ploughed on. On the one hand you are reminded of Pythagoras's theorem and the Two Slit experiment and on the other you are asked to perform arduous visualisations to grasp interconnections of theoretical particles in multiple dimensions.
A greater part of the book is dedicated to the retreading of Relativity theory, Quantum theory, Mach's Principle and Schrodinger's equations, which I guess would be familiar to most readers who get past the notes on the back cover and are covered far more lucidly by other popular authors. It is then shown how the established theories can still remain relevant within the authors newer conceptual framework of a Timeless Configuration Space, where our experiences are constructed by the action of Probability Waves on Time Capsules under the influence of Psychophysical Parallelism.
Although I comprehended most of it in a "general way", I felt that the author, who works independently of the scientific community, was aiming primarily at academic recognition through a rigorous and credible exposition of his theory, which was won at the expense of clarity to the general reader. Aug 09, Cassandra Kay Silva rated it liked it Shelves: I mean the idea behind the book was really good. I was excited to read about a whole new way to excuse ourselves from this time like track forward we seem to find ourselves in.
Some of the backing seemed pretty sound from my grasp of these issues. The problem is, I was left with kind of giant question mark at the end? The conclusion was frankly so poorly written that I found myself re reading the original entry chapters to kind of tie MYSELF back to the context since the author didn't do it for I mean the idea behind the book was really good.
The conclusion was frankly so poorly written that I found myself re reading the original entry chapters to kind of tie MYSELF back to the context since the author didn't do it for me. Perhaps everyone does not need this kind of hand holding but frankly I was a bit lost. It wasn't a boring book though and I think he made a lot of interesting points, although I when it got the the latter half even I found it started to meander and the backing seemed to get thinner and thinner for the ideas he was trying to present.
I think that's why this book really could have used a better ending. Just to really tie all these loose ends together and give some kind of final shabang to the whole Ending of time as it were. Jan 02, Jerry rated it liked it Shelves: It is an illusion. Like the sun seeming to orbit the earth. States of the universe exist and seem to order themselves in a temporal sequence. Life may really be more like an event simulation than like a continuous simulation. States of existence may be probabilistic like quantum physics where the uncertainty is not in knowing what state the system is Not very convincing.
My x-wife gave me this book in , and I have not had the chance to really read it. Right now I am putting a potential Theory of Everything, and this book was mentioned in the last book I read because it contains a clear idea about how construct a background-independent theory. In an unnerving moment of synchronicity, as I battled through the muddy trenches of page of this fascinating book, scrunched up in the mottled shade of a pine forest on the painfully idyllic island of Mljet, a kingfisher landed on a nearby branch. Sep 30, Brian rated it liked it.
I am very interested in sorting out the nature of "time" - is time a fundamental dimension? The idea that time will go to infinity, that the universe will plod on forever really bothers me. It seriously makes me sick to my stomach.
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This is regardless of my thoughts on death I'm not sure that the world "endi I am very interested in sorting out the nature of "time" - is time a fundamental dimension? I'm not sure that the world "ending" time not going to infinity would make things any better. But I think I'm hoping for something along the lines that time is an illusion that we experience, but that really we are in some sort of timeless universe. This I believe is the argument made in this book, "The End of Time". Much of the book is a brief history of physics, highlighting the treatment of time and space in physics theories through the past few centuries.
It raises lots of interesting perspectives and puzzles regarding. I found this review very interesting and educational - especially since I had to learn much of this in school but hadn't really put it all in perspective just solved formulas. It is described by an equation called the Wheeler — DeWitt equation.
John Wheeler prodded Bryce DeWitt into its derivation. If it really turns out to be the equation of the universe, the episode will be a rerun of the way Hooke badgered Newton into his solution of Kepler's problem. People found it very difficult to make sense of the static universe that seemed to emerge. However, I find the arguments that lead to it are strong. There is support for it in the structure of Einstein's theory and in the structure of quantum mechanics.
The equation would never have been found if that were not the case. So I take the picture seriously and try and make sense of it, and ask how can we nevertheless recover from it a picture of our world; how can it be that I can sit here and see my own hands moving, yours too, if the world is completely static? Suppose we accept the quantum universe is static and timeless.
The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Our Understanding of the Universe
How can we reconcile that with actually seeing motion and remembering the past? In fact, besides the direct sensing of change of one kind or another, the only direct evidence we have for time and the past comes from records, which include memories.
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Now records, either natural like fossils or man made, are so ubiquitous we can easily forget how remarkable their existence is according to the current understanding of classical mechanics. This is the problem of the extraordinarily low entropy of the universe. It was emphasized a century ago by Boltzmann. In the modern context of general relativity, Roger Penrose keeps on pointing out what a huge problem it is. All statistical arguments based on classical mechanics suggest the universe ought to have a vastly higher entropy and exist in a state in which records simply cannot form.
Penrose wants to explain the low entropy and the arrow of time by a new physics which is explicitly time asymmetric and comes with a built — in arrow of time and forces the universe to begin in a highly uniform state. My own view is that, paradoxically, the arrow of time may be easier to explain in a theory in which there is no time at all.
I suggest that our belief in time and a past arises solely because our entire experience comes to us through the medium of static arrangements of matter, in Nows, that create the appearance of time and change. Geologists certainly deduced that the earth has an immensely long history from structures frozen in rocks.
That is, evidence for time and motion in static form.
Our long — term memories must also be hard — wired in the patterns of the neural network in our brains. Again, we have mutually consistent records in static form. It is even possible that when we see motion the material counterpart of the phenomenon is a pattern of neuronal connections that codes several different positions of a moving object at once, and the appearance of motion arises from their simultaneous presence in one brain configuration.
As I have no expertise in neuroscience, I do not want to push this idea hard. I merely want to suggest that the appearance of time arises exclusively from very special matter configurations which we find can be interpreted as mutually consistent records of processes that unfolded in a past in accordance with definite physical laws that involve time. I call such configurations time capsules and take the perfectly conventional realist view that they do exist in an external world.
However, I think they may arise in a lawful manner that does not involve time at all. If we take the Wheeler — DeWitt equation at its face value, this is what must happen. I'm more optimistic and I am by no means completely alone in thinking that the appearance of time can arise from an essentially timeless universe. There is a quite long — standing regular research program involving at least twenty recognized physicists devoted to the problem. One of Hawking's main papers contributed to it about 15 years ago. The aspect of the problem that most excites me is that it might abolish the dichotomy between laws of nature and the initial conditions that you have to add to them before you can make any predictions.
The really interesting thing about quantum cosmology is that it should be in a position to make predictions about the universe which can't be made within classical physics. Classical physics as it exists now has laws and it has initial conditions. If quantum cosmology really is static, there's no initial conditions. There is no time. You can't set conditions at an initial time.
In my view, this means that quantum cosmology is potentially much more predictive. It should be able to predict phenomena like the arrow of time and the low entropy of the universe that in classical physics you would just have to attribute to initial conditions, and just say, well the Big Bang happened to take this form rather than a different form.
This is where I think the strongly asymmetric structure of any Platonia that we use to describe the universe could be highly significant. This possibility does not seem to have occurred to other physicists, but I think it must be relevant. If the universe really is governed by something like the Wheeler — DeWitt equation and we interpret it as determining the relative probabilities for the various different possible configurations of the universe to be realized, or experienced, then a major factor in determining how those probabilities are distributed must be the overall shape of the arena on which it acts.
But that is some Platonia, in which there is always a distinguished point Alpha, from which the complete arena opens up somewhat like a flower. Surely this structure must put a rooted bias into the game. My conjecture is that this static bias in the structure of the arena funnels the higher probabilities onto the special configurations that are time capsules, which, being more probable, are the ones that we are most likely to experience. The overall structure of the arena is reflected in the experienced configurations and interpreted by us as time and a past.
This may seem fantastic, but I think the arguments for a timeless universe are quite strong. If we accept them, then we must look for something really radical and powerful that does put the appearance of time into the universe. The difference between past and future is a massive asymmetry. I believe that it can only arise from some other massive asymmetry, which I find in the structure of Platonia.
I cannot as yet see any direct experimental way of testing this particular idea. What is needed above all is development of the mathematics. In my view, quantum cosmology is rather like the quantum physics of the stationary states of huge molecules, and the development of ideas used in atomic and molecular physics might help. Quite a lot of work has already been done in this direction in the program I mentioned earlier.
But in principle predictions can be made in the context of the Wheeler — DeWitt equation. However, nearly all of them at this stage are rather difficult because of the mathematics. You're dealing with complicated systems, you don't know how to find the solutions; there's a whole lot of issues there. Another issue is that cosmology is a special subject because it's dealing with a unique thing.
There is only one universe. There's a philosophical question: Have you ever considered that the world is an invention, and there's not an a priori existence before discoveries of people like yourself? Isn't this a kind of naive materialism? Wallace Stevens addressed the idea that the words of the world are the life of the world. Brown noted that nature isn't created But I don't know of any notable physicists today who are seriously concerned with the role that language plays in the creation of reality.
The words are meaning something. What impresses me is that, despite what you say, the rules of the game of science have stayed amazingly constant, despite the fantastic changes in how we see the world. Basically, the assumption has always been that that there are material things that move around subject to the constraints of geometry. There is change subject to order. Science — or at least physics — has been about establishing how those changes take place and describing them mathematically.
Every now and then they lead to a dramatic new way in looking at the world, but the rules of the game have always been the same really, going right back to geometry and ancient astronomy. I personally believe the world is still probably very much richer than we imagine, and that we still may well be only just scratching the surface of it.
The End of Time - Paperback - Julian Barbour - Oxford University Press
If you climb a mountain range you get different views as you go up. When you've got to the top you can understand what you could see lower down, but you couldn't understand it properly when you were lower down. I see the progress of science being like that, that suddenly completely new vistas are opened up, and you find new ways to think about it. I do think we are discovering the world, not inventing it. But John Wheeler sometimes seems to suggest that we create the universe. He thinks that by insisting on finding a consistent description of it we conjure it up by a kind of conspiracy.
He illustrates the idea by a variation of the game of twenty questions in which there is no object at the start of the questioning. Instead, each answer that is given must be consistent with all those already given. Eventually, there emerges some object that matches the answers.
As it happens, this is about an issue very closely related to quantum cosmology.
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What is the meaning of general covariance? Empson is arguing that it is a tautology. I think he is right in that but not in the claim that all law becomes the assumption of the description. Tensors relate different things and bring them into lawful connection. Let's consider a great experience I just had. I witnessed the total eclipse of the sun in France on August 11th.
I remember vividly reading as a boy that there would be this eclipse in , the first one visible in England in a long time — actually I went over to France to see it. Now there isn't any doubt about an eclipse; either you see an eclipse or you don't. The astronomers predicted that it would be seen as total in the medieval town of Senlis just north of Paris, and sure enough we did see it total.
I don't think there's anything to do with inventing there — the impression of actually seeing the sun totally eclipsed is quite unambiguous. My memories of reading about the eclipse as a boy and my memory of the actual eclipse are not tensors but they are real different things that match up. That's why I believe there's something real out there in the world and that we are getting our hands on it. Your theories appear to be bumping up against the ideas of many of your colleagues? Who might be sympathetic?
The string theorists will probably not take it very seriously, because I'm tied to a certain approach to attacking the problem and they will perhaps just say well he's doing the wrong thing. But I don't worry too much about that, because certain approaches can become unpopular for a long time and then come back in again. There are certainly people who do think about the fundamental issues of how you describe the world and these very basic questions of what is motion and so forth; they should be sympathetic to my approach. The people who will not like me are the people who don't want to take the many — worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics seriously, and who are trying to modify quantum mechanics so as to banish that specter.
I don't think Roger Penrose would take it very seriously, because he doesn't like any form of the many — worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Hiding in the Mirror. A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion. The Labyrinth of Time. The Logic of Simultaneity: Relativity without Inertial Frames. An Introduction to Linear Algebra and Tensors. From Financial Crisis to Stagnation. The Life of the Cosmos. God Does Play Dice with the Universe. Vector and Tensor Analysis with Applications. A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians.
On Space and Time. Group Theory and Chemistry. Introduction to Bessel Functions. The Meaning of Relativity. Mathematics for Quantum Chemistry. Group Theory and Quantum Mechanics. The Background to Reality. Molecular Symmetry and Group Theory. The Power of When. Interference, Entanglement, and Reality.
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