Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang
By Adam Frank
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781439169599, 432pp.)
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
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The Big Bang is all but dead, and we do not yet know what will replace it. Our universe’s “beginning” is at an end. What does this have to do with us here on Earth? Our lives are about to be dramatically shaken again—as altered as they were with the invention of the clock, the steam engine, the railroad, the radio and the Internet.
In The End of the Beginning, Adam Frank explains how the texture of our lives changes along with our understanding of the universe’s origin. Since we awoke to self-consciousness fifty thousand years ago, our lived experience of time—from hunting and gathering to the development of agriculture to the industrial revolution to the invention of Outlook calendars—has been transformed and rebuilt many times. But the latest theories in cosmology— time with no beginning, parallel universes, eternal inflation—are about to send us in a new direction.
Time is both our grandest and most intimate conception of the universe. Many books tell the story, recounting the progress of scientific cosmology. Frank tells the story of humanity’s deepest question— when and how did everything begin?—alongside the story of how human beings have experienced time. He looks at the way our engagement with the world— our inventions, our habits and more—has allowed us to discover the nature of the universe and how those discoveries, in turn, inform our daily experience.
This astounding book will change the way we think about time and how it affects our lives.
Adam Frank is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester and a regular contributor to Discover and Astronomy magazines. He has also written for Scientific American and many other publications and is the co-founder of NPR's 13:7 Cosmos & Culture blog. He was a Hubble Fellow and is the recipient of an American Astronomical Society Prize for his scientific writing.
"'Time' is the most used noun in the English language, yet we still don't really understand it. ?Adam Frank tells the fascinating story of how humans have struggled to make sense of time, especially in the context of the universe around us. ?From prehistory to the Enlightenment, through Einstein and on to the multiverse, this is a rich and inspiring tour through some of the biggest ideas that have ever been thought."
-Sean Carroll, author of?From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
?eoeAn eloquent book.?e
?eoeA fascinating and comprehensive survey of how technology - from farming to railways to telegraphy to the internet - has changed our everyday concept of time. [Frank] is excellent at showing how our ideas of human and cosmic time have evolved hand-in-hand?e? Frank's thesis that our notions of cosmic and human time are braided together is compelling.?e
"A?phenomenal blend of science and cultural history.?e
"Frank (astrophysics, Univ. of Rochester; The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate), cofounder of NPR?e(TM)s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog and frequent contributor to Discover and Astronomy magazines, here endeavors to reconstruct our understanding of time?e"both what he calls human time and cosmological time?e"with the contention that we are poised for a new definition or experience of time. He begins by ushering readers from the prehistoric to the modern era, showing how the cycles of nature and the sky became integrated into human culture over time. Next, he discusses cosmological time and lays out his proposal for a new ?eoeorder?e of time. The narrative is punctuated with vignettes, some of them amusing, designed to highlight and enrich various points of the narrative. VERDICT This will fascinate anyone curious about the nexus of astronomy and history and, of course, time. Recommended."
"University of Rochester astrophysics professor Adam Frank explains how our experience of time has been repeatedly rejiggered throughout the millennia. Archaeological evidence of ancient lifestyles and routines indicates that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers ?eoelived through time as an unbroken whole,?e he writes. But once humans settled down to farm, that changed. ?eoeThe farmer lived within a time marked by daily rounds of animal husbandry, home maintenance, and village life.?e Then came the clock, then the industrial punch clock and then synchronized time, which further altered how human beings perceived, used and organized the moments of a day. All the while, these changing notions of time altered how people understood the cosmos. Theories about the beginning of time gradually shifted from a mythological Eden to the universe-generating big bang. Frank ponders fresh ideas in cosmology, such as string theory and the multi-verse, and how the human perception of time will change in the future."
?eoeThis one is a must-read! ...Culture of Science regulars are going to love About Time. The book does a wonderful job weaving together the story of human history and time in the context of the universe. From the Big Bang to the Renaissance to cell phones to the multiverse, he takes extremely complex ideas and makes them easily digestible, endlessly fascinating, and fun. About Time will make you think. And be assured, you?e(TM)ll find yourself revisiting chapters again with new questions as you continue. It may even change the way way you perceive your place in the world.?e