Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe

Lee Smolin, Author
Lee Smolin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-547-51172-6
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 04/23/2013
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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 Descartes, on the other hand, insisted that time should be regarded as another dimension, and in 1909, mathematician Hermann Minkowski developed the theory of “spacetime,” a feature of the universe shaped by gravity. Smolin asserts that current-day cosmology has hit a wall because physicists refuse to understand that physical laws must “evolve in a real time.” Changing that perspective, he says, will revolutionize everything from string theory to the stock market. Although the distinctions in point of view aren’t always clear, Smolin makes an energetic case for a paradigm shift that could produce mind-boggling changes in the way we experience our world. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Apr. 23)
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