Sean Carroll’s From Eternity to Here sets out to explain the nature of time, particularly what’s known as the “arrow of time,” the fact that we experience time as a flow in only one direction, from the past into the future. This is a daunting prospect, as just setting up the question requires a discussion of just about every important physics discovery of the 19th and 20th centuries. Carroll manages to make it all readable, though, and whether or not you end up agreeing with his preferred approach, you’ll leave the book with a clearer sense of the problems and the physics involved in the nature of time.
From Eternity to Here is a little unusual in that it is not just a popular-level explanation of well settled physical questions, but a book-length argument in favor of a particular theory of the universe. This is much less common in the science side of academia than in the humanities, where the scholarly monograph is one of the standard units of academic production. Scientists, for the most part, don’t write books, and as a result the interested reader usually needs to piece together a full argument from a large set of journal articles and a great deal of background knowledge. It’s a pleasure to see everything laid out in one place like this. (more…)