From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

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Overview

Time moves forward, not backward—everyone knows you can't unscramble an egg. In the hands of one of today's hottest young physicists, that simple fact of breakfast becomes a doorway to understanding the Big Bang, the universe, and other universes, too. In From Eternity to Here, Sean Carroll argues that the arrow of time, pointing resolutely from the past to the future, owes its existence to conditions before the Big Bang itself—a period of modern cosmology of which Einstein never dreamed. Increasingly, though, ...
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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

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Overview

Time moves forward, not backward—everyone knows you can't unscramble an egg. In the hands of one of today's hottest young physicists, that simple fact of breakfast becomes a doorway to understanding the Big Bang, the universe, and other universes, too. In From Eternity to Here, Sean Carroll argues that the arrow of time, pointing resolutely from the past to the future, owes its existence to conditions before the Big Bang itself—a period of modern cosmology of which Einstein never dreamed. Increasingly, though, physicists are going out into realms that make the theory of relativity seem like child's play. Carroll's scenario is not only elegant, it's laid out in the same easy-to-understand language that has made his group blog, Cosmic Variance, the most popular physics blog on the Net.

From Eternity to Here uses ideas at the cutting edge of theoretical physics to explore how properties of space-time before the Big Bang can explain the flow of time we experience in our everyday lives. Carroll suggests that we live in a baby universe, part of a large family of universes in which many of our siblings experience an arrow of time running in the opposite direction. It's an ambitious, fascinating picture of the universe on an ultra-large scale, one that will captivate fans of popular physics blockbusters like Elegant Universe and A Brief History of Time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Carroll employs an easygoing, colloquial style of explanation to explore challenging issues of cosmology." —-Library Journal
Justin Moyer
Sean Carroll…does his best to make the arcane accessible…Though he exiles much of the math to an appendix, Carroll keeps it real, getting at the complex guts of cutting-edge cosmology
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
No one is better equipped to take readers on a rollercoaster ride through time, space, and the origins of the universe than Caltech theoretical physicist Carroll, cofounder of Cosmic Variance, one of the top science blog sites. “We're not thinking small here,” Carroll announces with glee before launching into his topic. Time is a medium we move through and a way to sequence events. But the “Arrow of Time' is also the only feature of the universe with one irreversible direction: time goes forward. This fact plays an important role in the second law of thermodynamics: the entropy (disorderliness) of an isolated system either remains constant or increases with time. This has implications for our understanding of the “Big Bang” origins of the universe. We may not be able to travel back in time, but we can find ways to peer back across it and see clues to how the universe evolved, thanks to such discoveries as quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Carroll writes with verve and infectious enthusiasm, reminding readers that “science is a journey in which getting there is, without question, much of the fun.” Illus. (Jan.)
Library Journal
A research physicist at Caltech and one of the founders of the popular group blog Cosmic Variance (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/), Carroll—not to be confused with biologist Sean B. Carroll (Endless Forms Most Beautiful)—expounds on a long-standing puzzle in physics. At a microscopic level the laws of physics are valid regardless of whether time runs forward or backward. However, in the real world all of us (including scientists) experience "time's arrow," which points in only one direction. More technically, scientists note that entropy (a measure of disorder) either increases or stays the same in the observable universe; it never decreases within a closed system. It appears that the universe's entropy was very low when the Big Bang occurred 14 billion years ago but has been increasing ever since. This strikes some researchers, including Carroll, as an uncomfortable oddity that needs further explanation. VERDICT Carroll employs an easygoing, colloquial style of explanation to explore challenging issues of cosmology. His approach is effective, but readers must still be willing to work through much heavy thinking. Highly recommended for fans of Stephen Hawking and those with at least some formal training in the physical sciences and/or philosophy.—Jack W. Weigel, Ann Arbor, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A revealing look into the fourth and thorniest dimension. Time, a famous scientist pointed out, is nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at once. Carroll (Theoretical Physics/Caltech) has read all the literary and scientific writing on the subject but has plenty of his own opinions. In his debut, the author writes in accessible prose, so readers who make the effort will absorb an avalanche of information. Everyone knows one needs three dimensions to locate anything, but without the time no one can find a specific event. As a result, educated readers accept time as a legitimate dimension, yet no one can shake the feeling that it's odd. All laws of physics remain unchanged everywhere, and none assert that time can't run backward, but it never does. Carroll's explanation relies heavily on the second law of thermodynamics (to which he returns again and again), which states that all systems in the universe tend to become disorganized (increase in entropy). No law forbids an omelet from spontaneously turning back into an egg, but it's extremely unlikely. Travel in time is simple provided one travels forward. Since relativity requires moving clocks to run slower than those at rest, one can speed up time by simply traveling and then returning. Sadly, travel into the past would produce paradoxes and, the author stresses, paradoxes don't happen. Carroll delves deeper than the typical PBS science hour. Understanding time requires an acquaintance with entropy, relativity, cosmology, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, which Carroll enthusiastically delivers at great length. Not for the scientifically disinclined, but determined readers will come away with a rewarding grasp of acomplex subject. Agents: Katinka Matson, John Brockman/Brockman, Inc.
Publishers Weekly
Carroll explains the scientific studies of time in an accessible text for the lay reader, but one that proves prohibitively confusing for the lay listener. Sentences are stuffed with important, sometimes esoteric information that takes going over several times, making the listening choppy. And those prone to occasionally tune out for a sentence here or there will find it nearly impossible to follow. Erik Synnestvedt also hinders the production; though he reads in a clear and easy-to-follow voice, he never establishes a significant pattern of emphasis to guide listeners through the more technical and nuanced prose. His soft and rhythmic voice is slightly soporific and does little in helping the listener concentrate. A Dutton hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 2). (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400165650
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/29/2010
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Sean Carroll, Ph.D., is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and the author of the graduate-level textbook Spacetime and Geometry.

Actor Erik Synnestvedt has recorded nearly two hundred audiobooks, including The Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak and Twitter Power by Joel Comm.

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Table of Contents

Prologue The nature of time, the importance of entropy, and the role of cosmology 1

Pt. 1 Time, Experience, and the Universe

1 The Past Is Present Memory 9

2 The Heavy Hand of Entropy 26

3 The Beginning and End of Time 44

Pt. 2 Time In Einstein's Universe

4 Time Is Personal 67

5 Time Is Flexible 82

6 Looping Through Time 93

Pt. 3 Entropy and Time's Arrow

7 Running Time Backward 119

8 Entropy and Disorder 143

9 Information and Life 179

10 Recurrent Nightmares 202

11 Quantum Time 228

Pt. 4 From the Kitchen to the Multiverse

12 Black Holes: The Ends of Time 259

13 The life of the Universe 287

14 Inflation and the Multiverse 315

15 The Past Through Tomorrow 339

16 Epilogue 366

Appendix Math 377

Notes 385

Bibliography 411

Acknowledgments 421

Index 423

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    To the point physics that are not intended to mislead! But provokes thought!

    I started reading this book about two weeks ago and managed to get through about 30-40 pages in that period. Now it seems that the book has possessed me to the point that I cannot put it down! It starts off slow giving you a foundation of knowledge, which I think is required for the rest of the book to be understood. It's written in a way that slowly draws you in like the event horizon of a black hole... And then bang! This is clear, to the point physics. Not afraid to say simply, we don't know the complete answer to say (X), but here is what we do know and how we know it. Take it for what it's worth...

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Fascinating speculation

    A balanced, insightful look at the most recent theories of the cosmos and time. The author presents complicated ideas in a comprehensive and lucid manner. In places, somewhat redundant, but this may be intentional, to insure the reader grasps all the ramifications of the theory of time the author is presenting. It is not light reading, but it is not a light subject (no pun intended). However, it is well worth the effort for anyone who wants an inside look at the latest research and thoughts regarding time. The author is careful to point out that not everyone agrees with his hypothesis, but it is presented in depth, utilizing a scientific approach.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Satisfying coverage of a tough topic

    Excellent, systematically organized review of a branch of physics most people avoid. A fine read for any inquisitive, intelligent reader.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    Very thought provoking

    I thourougly enjoyed the subject matter and his relaxed style of writing. It did not try and force any real conclusion other then to reveal the complexity of time symmatry breaking and the many facets of entropy. Obviously Sean is a Multiverse advocate. I enjoyed it and will read it a few more times. The last third of the book was more interesting than the first third. In the middle it sort of found it's rythm - Robert Twigg - Author - "The Puzzle Keeper"

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    The problem with books like this is the feeling of remorse at ha

    The problem with books like this is the feeling of remorse at having missed out on the benefit of having a professor like Sean Carroll when taking physics back in college. ‘From Eternity to Here’ is as lucid an introduction to entropy, the arrow-of-time and cosmology as a layperson is going to find, with a clear definition of key terms and figures that actually contribute to the clarity of the discussion. My only complaint was a point that was central to many of his discussions. Prof. Carroll repeatedly notes that Boltzmann’s definition of entropy matches that of Carnot and Clausius. I think this required a more extensive discussion to establish exactly why the number of microstates that can produce identical macrostates, expressed by Boltzmann as S = k log W, is identical to the classical definition of entropy, expressed as the integral of the change in heat to a closed system normalized by the temperature. They don’t look mathematically the same to me. But having lodged this complaint, I wouldn’t argue with Prof. Carroll if he said they were the same. At 375 pages, something had to be omitted, and his selection for what not to include must have been more challenging than deciding what to include. And what he does include is fascinating stuff … working definitions of time, why time in our universe (he gives reasons to think there are more than one universe!) seems to go in one direction only, the symmetry of time, the classic question of why there is something instead of nothing (see Larry Krauss’ ‘A Universe From Nothing: why there is something rather than nothing’…another good read!), why black holes are relevant to understanding time, some discussions about what particle physics can teach us, many excursions into relativity (both special and general) and quantum mechanics, some of which reads like science fiction. All of this is presented in a clear and often light hearted fashion, with a nodding passing to pop culture, science fiction and tidbits about the lives of famous physicists and the lives of physicists who should have been famous but were not. If you struggled through Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ then you’ll love this book. And for the really hardcore science addict, be sure to check out Prof. Carroll’s wonderful set of lectures in the Great Courses series, titled ‘Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time (which is where I first learned of this book).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2010

    Much easuer to read on Nook

    Now that the price has cone way down from the obscene original of 18 it is in my Nook.. I read the hardcover but it is VERY small print and figures are small too. This book shows off the color Nook. The ability to jump to and return from footnotes is superb. You DO want to read them to understand this book. The book explains the arrow of time (time only goes past to present to future) and teaches a lot about relativity and quantum physics at the same time. It is one if the best I have seen on this and if you are willing to wirk it will teach you well, Almost no mathematics to worry about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    CDs with mp3's

    Note that this book format is NOT audio CD. There is another ISBN for that version. This format is two data CDs full of mp3 files totaling 16.5 hours of speech in 28 files. They are recorded in very good quality of 128kbps.
    Most CD players will not play it. Particularly older one in cars.

    Perfect for your mp3 player or if you are able to convert it to regular audio CDs (many CD writers can do it) to play in car.

    I did not listen to the whole book yet, so my opinion on book content will follow.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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