You are reading the word "now" right now. But what does that mean? What makes the ephemeral moment "now" so special? Its enigmatic character has bedeviled philosophers, priests, and modern-day physicists from Augustine to Einstein and beyond.Read more...
You are reading the word "now" right now. But what does that mean? What makes the ephemeral moment "now" so special? Its enigmatic character has bedeviled philosophers, priests, and modern-day physicists from Augustine to Einstein and beyond. Einstein showed that the flow of time is affected by both velocity and gravity, yet he despaired at his failure to explain the meaning of "now." Equally puzzling: why does time flow? Some physicists have given up trying to understand, and call the flow of time an illusion, but the eminent experimentalist physicist Richard A. Muller protests. He says physics should explain reality, not deny it.
In Now, Muller does more than poke holes in past ideas; he crafts his own revolutionary theory, one that makes testable predictions. He begins by laying out--with the refreshing clarity that made Physics for Future Presidents so successful--a firm and remarkably clear explanation of the physics building blocks of his theory: relativity, entropy, entanglement, antimatter, and the Big Bang. With the stage then set, he reveals a startling way forward.
Muller points out that the standard Big Bang theory explains the ongoing expansion of the universe as the continuous creation of new space. He argues that time is also expanding and that the leading edge of the new time is what we experience as "now." This thought-provoking vision has remarkable implications for some of our biggest questions, not only in physics but also in philosophy--including the ongoing debate about the reality of free will. Moreover, his theory is testable. Muller's monumental work will spark major debate about the most fundamental assumptions of our universe, and may crack one of physics's longest-standing enigmas.
- ISBN-13: 9780393285239
- ISBN-10: 0393285235
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Publish Date: September 2016
- Page Count: 368
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.45 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Muller (Physics for Future Presidents), professor of physics at the UC Berkeley, looks anew at the physics of time in this provocative book. Scientists have puzzled over a definition of now for centuries. Einstein’s relativity theory showed that time is dependent on the observer’s frame of reference, but the news that the speed of light is constant for all observers also removed any hopes of the existence of universal simultaneity. Even more intriguing, relativity showed that time actually slows for moving objects, giving life to a host of paradoxes. Muller addresses the largest question—can the “arrow” of time go forward only?—by giving readers a closer look at the nature of entropy and how it has increased since the Big Bang. But the discovery of the Higgs boson opened up the possibility that entropy isn’t driving the forward march of time. Quantum physics may yet yield a “quantum arrow” to time, Muller says, based by work by Richard Feynman and others. With a little help from such pop culture touchstones as Star Trek, Jurassic Park, and Calvin and Hobbes, Muller delivers an intriguing glimpse at the physics behind time. (Sept.)