The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics

The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics

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by Julian B. Barbour

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ISBN-10: 0195117298

ISBN-13: 9780195117295

Pub. Date: 11/01/1999

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Richard Feynman once quipped: "Time is what happens when nothing else does." But Julian Barbour disagrees: if nothing happened, if nothing changed, time would stop. For time is nothing but change. It is change that we perceive occurring all around us, not time. In fact, time doesn't exist.
In this highly provocative volume, Barbour presents


Richard Feynman once quipped: "Time is what happens when nothing else does." But Julian Barbour disagrees: if nothing happened, if nothing changed, time would stop. For time is nothing but change. It is change that we perceive occurring all around us, not time. In fact, time doesn't exist.
In this highly provocative volume, Barbour presents the basic evidence for the nonexistence of time, explaining what a timeless universe is like and showing how the world will nonetheless be experienced as intensely temporal. It is a book that strikes at the heart of modern physics, that casts doubt on Einstein's greatest contribution, the space-time continuum, but that also points to the solution of one of the great paradoxes of modern science: the chasm between classical and quantum physics. Indeed, Barbour argues that the unification of Einstein's general relativity and quantum mechanics may well spell the end of time—time will cease to have a role in the foundations of physics.
Barbour writes with remarkable clarity, as he ranges from ancient philosophers such as Heraclitus and Parmenides, to such giants of science as Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, to the work of contemporary physicists such as John Wheeler, Roger Penrose, and Steven Hawking. Along the way, the author treats us to an enticing look at some of the mysteries of the universe and presents intriguing ideas about multiple worlds, time travel, immortality, and, above all, the illusion of motion.
Turning our understanding of reality inside-out, The End of Time is a vibrantly written and revolutionary book.

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Oxford University Press, USA
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Table of Contents

The Story in a Nutshell1
CHAPTER 1 The Main Puzzles11
The Next Revolution in Physics11
The Ultimate Things15
Getting to Grips with Elusive Time17
The Properties of Experienced Time19
Newton's Concepts20
Laws and Initial Conditions22
Why is the Universe so Special?23
CHAPTER 2 Time Capsules26
The Physical World and Consciousness26
Time Without Time28
Time Capsules30
Examples of Time Capsules32
CHAPTER 3 A Timeless World35
First Outline35
The Crisis of Time38
The Ultimate Arena39
Is Motion Real?46
The Big Picture49
CHAPTER 4 AlternativeFrameworks61
Absolute or Relative Motion?61
An Alternative Arena67
CHAPTER 5 Newton's Evidence71
The Aims of Machian Mechanics71
Apparent Failure77
Space and Spin86
CHAPTER 6 The Two Great Clocks in the Sky93
Where is Time?93
The First Great Clock97
The Inertial Clock99
The Second Great Clock104
CHAPTER 7 Paths in Platonia109
Nature and Exploration109
Developing Machian Ideas113
Exploring Platonia115
CHAPTER 8 The Bolt from the Blue123
Historical Accidents123
Background to the Crisis124
Einstein and Simultaneity129
The Forgotten Aspects of Time132
CHAPTER 9 Minkowski the Magician138
The New Arena138
From Three to Four Dimensions139
Are There Nows in Relativity?142
CHAPTER 10 The Discovery of General Relativity147
Funny Geometry147
Einstein's Way to General Relativity151
The Main Advances156
The Final Hurdle160
General Relativity and Time162
CHAPTER 11 General Relativity: The Timeless Picture165
The Golden Age of General Relativity165
Platonia for Relativity167
Best Matching in the New Platonia170
Catching up with Einstein172
A Summary and the Dilemma177
CHAPTER 12 The Discovery of Quantum Mechanics185
CHAPTER 13 The Lesser Mysteries193
The Wave Function194
Interpreting the Wave Function198
States Within States200
The Copenhagen Interpretation203
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle205
The Enigmatic Gem206
CHAPTER 14 The Greater Mysteries208
Schrödinger's Vast Arena208
Correlations and Entanglement211
The EPR Paradox218
Bell's Inequalities220
The Many-Worlds Interpretation221
A Dualistic Picture227
CHAPTER 15 The Rules of Creation229
The End of Change229
Creation and the Schrödinger Equation232
Quantum Mechanics Hovering in Nothing235
CHAPTER 16 `That Damned Equation'238
History and Quantum Cosmology238
A Simple-Minded Approach241
`That Damned Equation'242
CHAPTER 17 The Philosophy of Timelessness251
CHAPTER 18 Static Dynamics and Time Capsules257
Dynamics Without Dynamics257
Why do we Think the Universe is Expanding?261
The Idea of Time Capsules: The Kingfisher264
CHAPTER 19 Latent Histories and Wave Packets268
Smooth Waves and Choppy Seas268
History Without History271
Airy Nothing and a Local Habitation274
Schrödinger's Heroic Failure278
CHAPTER 20 The Creation of Records282
History and Records282
The Creation of Records: First Mechanism284
The Prerequisites of History287
The Improbability of History290
The Creation of Records: Second Mechanism292
CHAPTER 21 The Many-Instants Interpretation297
Many Histories in One Universe297
Bell's `Many-Worlds' Interpretation299
The Many-Instants Interpretation302
CHAPTER 22 The Emergence of Time and its Arrow306
Causality in Quantum Cosmology306
Soccer in the Matterhorn307
Timeless Descriptions of Dynamics309
A Quantum Origin of the Universe?311
Vision of a Timeless Universe315
A Well-Ordered Cosmos?321
EPILOGUE Life Without Time323
Further Reading359

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End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since I was about twelve years old I have had an intuative sense about time. I remember looking at a photograph and realizing that when it was taken, that very moment couldn't have gone away. It would always be there in it's little nitch in space-time. Nothing could be covered over to replace that 'Now' with any other event. My next thought was that the past, present and future had to be happening at the same time. Many years later I started to read the implications of physics. The 'nows' can not be left behind when the next 'now' comes along, because it forever has it nitch in the universe. That 'now' cannot be changed. It is what it is, and it exists where it exists. I believe every possible 'now' exists and that is makes the 'nows' both predetermined and not predetermined, because every possible reality is a reality. I loved the book. I see that some have intuitively sensed this for many, many, years. Why does physics, high mathematics explain the universe? It has to be that we ARE the universe trying to explain itself. Beautiful, beautiful, book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a non-scientist, I don't follow developments in physics very closely, but once in a while a popularizer comes along with something really new to say (and I don't mean sensationalist clap-trap), so I buy the book. I bought this one because it promised to rid physics of a couple of unprovable assumptions, chiefly the axiomatic flow of time. I figure it's always good to minimize assumptions, and I anticipated a reading experience just as entertaining as watching a wrecking-ball destroy a foundation without harming the house on top of it!... In my opinion, this book delivers on that amazing promise. Incredible as it seems, both Relativity and quantum mechanics can apparently survive and thrive without temporal underpinnings. In place of that old 'flowing' foundation, author Julian Barbour posits a static configuration space in which all instances of time (all possible relative configurations of all particles in the universe) coexist simultaneously. It's a temporal variation on the 'many worlds' theme, but it makes more sense with fewer assumptions than any other hypothesis. The immediate implications for QM are too subtle for my level of comprehension, but it stands to reason that this could be the making of a major paradigm-shift for everyone, even in our everyday lives, eventually.... Barbour is a consummate science historian, so you'll read about everyone from Bell to Zeno as he cites precedent for his ideas. He almost dazzled me too much, till I don't know which ideas are his own and which ones are old-hat. I guess I'll have to read it again someday soon. It'll be a joy to re-read, I think. No doubt there are plenty of little nuggets that I missed the first time. It's a rich mix.... I do have major problems with Barbour's solipsism. Yes, he's a self-confessed solipsist. He basically ends up saying, 'Life is but a dream and here's my argument to prove it.' Well, if it's a dream, then so too is the argument, and -- POOF! -- self annihilation. However, if you're smart enough to follow his logic that far, you should be smart enough to find your own escape from his surreal fate. Myself, I just see gaping escape-route holes whenever anyone tries to reconcile consciousness with pure determinism. If the universe is ruled by the latter, what need is there for the former? Barbour hasn't closed that Great Mystery by any means, but he has put it in sharper focus around the edges. Much sharper. That alone is a rare and wonderful thing....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I own the book and found it very confusing. I will not pretend to have the slightest clue of what Mr. Barbour is talking about. Though some of it did stick, the general idea I guess. I recommend that you not buy this book unless you're serious about your physics, and if you are you'll be in a wonderful dreamland. And I think he's right!