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From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the…

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

by Sean Carroll

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From Eternity To Here by Sean Carroll is an excellent book on the nature of time itself. The book is for the layman and is quite well-written, with its focus being on the Arrow of Time and why it exists. Through his musings, we find content on Information Theory, Statistical Thermodynamics and so on. This book touches on a great many subjects in Physics.

The book doesn’t have many equations but it does take some understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That is the law that states that things tend toward disorder. While it is possible to unbreak an egg, it is extremely unlikely. Most physical equations don’t have a preferred direction in time. This makes it easy to calculate certain things. However, that is not the same for our experiences of the world as a whole. To see such a phenomenon as the unbreaking of an egg; or cream, sugar, and coffee unmixing into their constituent parts would be akin to watching a movie in reverse. Here’s the crux of the matter, it isn’t forbidden for such things to happen. Like I mentioned before, it is quite unlikely for a floor to hit all the molecules of a broken egg back into place, but that doesn’t make it completely impossible.

Using these ideas, we can extrapolate back in time to the Big Bang. Supposedly, the time of the Big Bang was a situation in which the Universe was perfectly ordered and had extremely low entropy. We can infer this since the entropy of the universe tends to increase with time. If the Universe started out at a high entropy state, nothing would happen, and I would not be here to write this review.

While the book doesn’t have many equations as I mentioned, the ones that it does contain are pretty famous. Well, to some, I suppose. Einstein’s E=mc squared is almost ubiquitous, but while his Field Equation for General Relativity is famous to a select few, I can’t imagine many people recognizing that one. As it does cover all these things, relativity comes into play; with light cones, Spacetime, Black Holes, and all of that good stuff.

Throughout the book, we find references to such luminaries as Ludwig Boltzmann, Sadi Carnot, Rudolf Clausius, James Clerk Maxwell, and others. Along with the founders of Thermodynamics and other disciplines, we also follow some more modern scientists.

This book is really good, as I might have mentioned before. If you can find it, I feel it is worth a look. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
I read this as research for an upcoming book that I probably won't write for another 5 years from now. I'll have to reread the book again and will leave a more detailed review then. ( )
  pgSundling | Apr 30, 2019 |
Final book of the trip. ( )
  TravbudJ | Oct 19, 2018 |
I don't like a quest. I like scientific research, creativity, non-conformist ideas. Luckily it's only the subtitle of the book that I hold a grudge against. In the book itself you'll find scientific research, creativity and non-conformist thinking. And a scientist who tells us that some of his ideas aren't science but speculation. (Well, 'predictions' my ass). All too often scientists use misplaced authority in popular science books when it comes to defending their own theories. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at CalTech, isn't one of them, and that is laudable.

From Eternity to Here (2010) is a book about the arrow of time. What is time? The answer in a nutshell: experiencing the tendency of the universe to increase its entropy, a measure of "disorder". There we have them again. Scrambled eggs won't unscramble (although quantum mechanics tell us there's a small chance it will happen. And if you wait long enough it inevitably will happen). The milk in your coffee that won't get unmixed.
Entropy tends to stay the same or increase on a large scale. That's because there are more possible combinations of chaos than of order. If an earthquake hits your pile of books, it tends to fall over. If the books are on the ground and the second wave of earthquakes come, generally they won't pile on top of each other.
That seems to be what we perceive as time: the direction from low entropy to higher entropy. It will eventually end with everything - all matter, all fields, all of spacetime - in equilibrium, which means time will stop as well. No change, no time, ma'am.

Carroll speculates however that it won't stop there. In an equilibrium universe entropy will continue to grow by creating bubbles that are new universes. These universes start out low in entropy, and the unlimited increase can continue.
Why does Sean Carroll come up with the need for eternal increase of entropy, to the cost of a yet unfalsifiable multiverse theory? Reason is that our own universe started out in a strange, very low entropy state. And that poses problems. Not only for the development of our universe, but for the current state of our universe as well. After all, the highest chance for us is to find ourselves in such a De Sitter space. In such a space there's equilibrium without an arrow of time. Weak anthropic principle, but with a twist.

The book fills up with explanations about the usual suspects. That is: entropy, general relativity, quantum physics, string theory, black holes and event horizons, AdS/CFT . The whole cast of characters you'll find in most current books about cosmology. In that regard the book won't teach you much extra. But it is a good overview structured from another perspective: the perspective of time. As a bonus it takes you on a mind-boggling tour of possibilities. From the dimensions of infinite space to the multiverse in its many variations. A well written book with an interesting conclusion. Worth your time.

For those missing the most basic of mathematics you should read the 'math' section at the end of the book first. For those with a few years of high school math: dive right in. Follow the arrow From Eternity to Here.

In the right direction, that is. ( )
1 vote jeroenvandorp | Feb 19, 2017 |
Ostensibly this book is about time and why it goes only one way. Mostly, it's about entropy, and it's a bit repetitive, and not as elucidating as one might hope. I think it may be intended primarily for those working or studying in the areas of cosmology or quantum field theory rather than laymen such as myself. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525951334, Hardcover)

A rising star in theoretical physics offers his awesome vision of our universe and beyond, all beginning with a simple question: Why does time move forward?

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 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 spacetime 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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A rising star in theoretical physics offers his awesome vision of our universe and beyond, all beginning with a simple question: Why does time move forward?

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