In Search of Time: Journeys along a Curious Dimension

From the book jacket:

“What, then, is time? If no one ask of me, I know,” St. Augustine of Hippo lamented. “But if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.” Who wouldn’t sympathize with Augustine’s dilemma? Time is at once intimately familiar and deeply mysterious: Nothing is more central and yet so remote...

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Praise from Sir Martin Rees:

“Dan Falk is a riveting writer: his latest book is almost unputdownable. He covers an eclectic range of fascinating topics – from prehistory to the far future. Time is a mysterious commodity: we gain, spend, save and lose it. But everyone should make enough time to read In Search of Time.” – Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of Just Six Numbers and Our Final Hour

Review Excerpts

The Ottawa Citizen

“Falk’s book is what Hawking's Brief History [of Time] should have been… His main chapter on Einstein [is] just about the clearest explanation of special relativity I can imagine… It's a gift to be able to write about this clearly… Falk sneaks in an admirable toolkit, explaining a vast number of the basic concepts of cosmology and physics with a minimum of fuss. Light years. Newton's laws of motion. The speed of light. The Big Bang. Laws of thermodynamics. These are not easy concepts, yet he deals with them surprisingly gently.”

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The Globe and Mail

“Dan Falk is a science writer, and a good one,” writes Christopher Dewdney (who has also tackled this subject himself), in a review titled “A well-guided tour of time.” “Time is a big subject and he is up to the task. The book includes many interviews with scientists and is exhaustively researched. And he focuses tenaciously on the subject at hand… his book is replete with fascinating conversations with scientists,” Dewdney writes. He adds that is was the final chapter, Illusion and Reality, that intrigued him the most. “It’s part metaphysics, part physics and part spooky. Falk presents some of the most startling theories about the nature of time, human identity and existence. Here physicists expound on their theories of ‘block time,’ the notion that the past exists alongside the present and future in a single, timeless continuum. It is definitely food for thought.”

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Publishers Weekly (“starred” review)

“Beginning with a 5000-year-old tomb in Drogheda, Ireland, illuminated only at the winter solstice, science writer Falk asks the question, “What is time?” ... Falk seamlessly combines science with literary and philosophical observations… and digresses to fascinating topics like root notions of past and future, the vagaries of memory and the behavior of birds at breakfast time. Rounding out his multi-course feast, Falk contrasts Newton’s notion of “absolute, true, and mathematical” time with Einstein’s final words in 1955, “the distinction of past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” to present modern speculations on black holes and the universe's future.”

New Scientist

“OUR conception of time intimately informs what it is to be human: with awareness of time comes awareness of one's mortality. Time’s definition is elusive but Dan Falk is keen to track it down. In this thoroughly readable, broad-sweeping and thought-provoking book, Falk surveys humanity's attempts to record and understand time, and poses some fascinating questions. How does the brain tell time? Is time a feature of the world or of the mind? For answers, he turns to philosophy and to physics, where only one thing is certain: as physicist Roger Penrose tells Falk, ‘Time is not what we think it is.’”

The San Francisco Chronicle

Dan Falk is “an engaging writer who fearlessly tackles potentially brain-freezing topics,” reviewer Mary Eisenhart says in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Falk’s willingness to address his subject from many perspectives is a great strength... when Falk hits the sweet spot with this approach – as in his chapters on “Isaac’s Time,” “Albert’s Time” and “Back to the Future” (on time travel) – [these] perspectives complement each other to highly illuminating effect.”

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