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Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe [Format Kindle]

Lee Smolin
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

One of the most original living theorists ... He challenges not only Einstein's relativity, but also the very notion of natural laws as immutable truths (Economist)

Brilliant and persuasive (Ray Monk Guardian)

Provocative and stimulating ... Smolin reconceives the universe (Christopher Potter Sunday Times)

Présentation de l'éditeur

From one of our foremost thinkers and public intellectuals, a radical new view of the nature of time and the cosmos

What is time?

This deceptively simple question is the single most important problem facing science as we probe more deeply into the fundamentals of the universe. All of the mysteries physicists and cosmologists face—from the Big Bang to the future of the universe, from the puzzles of quantum physics to the unification of forces and particles—come down to the nature of time.

The fact that time is real may seem obvious. You experience it passing every day when you watch clocks tick, bread toast, and children grow. But most physicists, from Newton to Einstein to today’s quantum theorists, have seen things differently. The scientific case for time being an illusion is formidable. That is why the consequences of adopting the view that time is real are revolutionary.

Lee Smolin, author of the controversial bestseller The Trouble with Physics, argues that a limited notion of time is holding physics back. It’s time for a major revolution in scientific thought. The reality of time could be the key to the next big breakthrough in theoretical physics.

What if the laws of physics themselves were not timeless? What if they could evolve? Time Reborn offers a radical new approach to cosmology that embraces the reality of time and opens up a whole new universe of possibilities. There are few ideas that, like our notion of time, shape our thinking about literally everything, with huge implications for physics and beyond—from climate change to the economic crisis. Smolin explains in lively and lucid prose how the true nature of time impacts our world.

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3.0 étoiles sur 5
3.0 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Disappointing 30 juin 2014
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Although I am not a professional physicist, I read a few years ago the book by the same author on string theory. I liked it. Therefore when I started this book on the fascinating subject of time, I was full of hope. Unfortunately I am quite disappointed. This is a bizarre and lengthy mixture of trivialities and ''highbrow" physics, which could have been shortened quite a lot. At the end my "understanding" of what is time has not increased a bit! I think that a "good" writer could have brought more information in less than twenty pages. There are moreover sentences like those related to infinity (see, e.g., "This makes it a bit tricky to say that rarer fluctuations happen fewer times because the ratio of two infinite numbers is ill-defined."), which are of course correct from the viewpoint of elementary mathematics, but are most naïve from a slightly more advanced logical standpoint.
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Faisant écho aux ouvrages de Roger Penrose et de Carlo Rovelli, ce livre est un bon résumé des approches scientifiques actuelles à la notion de temps, ayant comme toile de fond l’incohérence de certains résultats d'expérience en mécanique quantique par rapport à la relativité. L'auteur offre des perspectives innovantes, bases d'un programme de recherche, qui devraient rendre au temps physique son objectivité. Il fournit ainsi au non spécialiste un aperçu de la problématique en cours dans ce domaine et les réflexions d'un scientifique reconnu en physique théorique. Malgré un style clair, le sujet traité exige de la part du lecteur une base de connaissances étendue en physique fondamentale.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 convincing 10 septembre 2014
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
it achieves its objective perfectly well, and builds up the argumentation to give a clear view of how one can derive towards absurdity. It gives the tools to keep a critical mind.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.8 étoiles sur 5  132 commentaires
433 internautes sur 491 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Extremely disappointing 23 mars 2013
Par physics lover - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I was very excited when I ordered this book. The idea that the laws of nature may be time dependent has been debated by every generation of physicists since Isaac Newton. It is a romantic idea full of potential surprises, ripe for exciting new theories. It has not caught on, not because physicists shy away from it, but because experimental evidence is not there. (Every physicist, including myself, is very much intrigued by the possibility of time dependent physical laws, but we have not been able to make a fully scientific theory out of it (yet.)) In fact as of today, we don't have a shred of irrefutable experimental evidence that the laws of physics or any of the physical constants have changed since the first few seconds of big bang more than 13 billion years ago. (And we have no reliable idea how the universe was before the first few seconds.) Even so, I was still jazzed up about it. I did not expect to read about a full theory, but some coherent sketch of how it may work out. Unfortunately, the book fell way short of my expectations. This is not a scientific book; in fact it is not even a philosophical book. It is a book in which the author preaches the laymen from his high pulpit, stating his own pet theories and speculations as if they are facts, or at least as if they are likely to be true even though they have not been supported by any evidence yet.

I diligently read chapter after chapter expecting a high synthesis of ideas eventually. It never came. But it was much worse than that when I realized that the author was leading up to a type of "hidden variables" interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (QM). If you don't know what that term means, don't worry about it, it is just physics jargon for theories that try to replace QM by deterministic approaches that avoid the probabilistic interpretation of it. Based on personal philosophy and even religion, countless people (many of them very prominent physicists themselves) objected to the standard probabilistic interpretation of QM in the last 90 years. Hundreds of alternative deterministic approaches were proposed to replace QM. These theories are termed "hidden variable theories." The better ones actually reproduce most of the predictions of QM. But no hidden variable theory has ever produced identical results to QM for all test cases. When the differences arose in predictions, the experiments backed the predictions by QM irrefutably. As of today, there is not one single hidden variable theory that produces the same results as QM for all experiments. It may yet happen some day, but based on how hard some of the smartest people on Earth have tried and failed for 90 years (including most notably Albert Einstein) to make hidden variable theories work, the prospects are rather dim.

As if that was not bad enough, in the last few chapters the author rejects the concept of "identical particles" in QM. He states explicitly that every electron in the universe is different and distinguishable from every other electron. He gives an easy example of an electron on Earth and another one on the Moon, because they have extremely well localized positions in space far away from each other. He never talks about obvious counter examples. Consider the two electrons of the helium atom in the ground state for instance. These two electrons sit on top of each other with opposite spins. Any experiment which tries to measure which electron is spin-up and which one is spin down in the helium atom fails, confirming the experimental prediction of QM that you get the wrong answer if you do not treat the electrons as indistinguishable. The experiment confirms that the two electrons have opposite spins, but there is no way to tell which is which. This is not because our experimental set up is faulty or inaccurate. It is because of a fundamental property of Nature itself.

The last three chapters of the book could easily be called religious. It goes way beyond scientific speculation, and into the realm of religious dogma, asserting how the Universe should be because we (he) want(s) it to be that way for personal reasons. I could not recommend this book, especially if you do not know much physics, in which case you might get a really distorted view.
57 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 What is Old is New Again -- Time Reborn 20 mai 2013
Par Joseph G. Wick - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Lee Smolin's book is fascinating, troubling, and probably the seed of a new way of looking at fundamental physics. I've long thought that modern mathematical physics may be going down a cul de sac because physicists confuse the metaphor (mathematics) with "reality." Smolin's book shows a willingness to avoid that trap. His arguments are interesting, well written, quite possibly fallacious from a logical point of view, and surprisingly devoid of mathematics.

The book has a number of good and bad points, perhaps too many to set forth here. It concerns our concepts of the universe from the all-embracing large to the inconceivably small. Along the way it drifts off to political, social, and economic commentary, which is nonetheless well tethered to the main arguments about science, but annoyingly distracting from his central theme.

In essence Smolin suggests a new way of looking at cosmological and quantum questions based largely on the approach of Gottfried Leibnitz who is credited by some with inventing calculus, by others with stealing it from Newton. Current physics is, in Smolin's eyes, too closely descended from Newton's "paradigm" of the universe and science with its concepts of absolute space and time and the more recent idea that time is an illusion or an "emergent" phenomenon. Although Einstein's approach made these concepts somewhat "relational," to Smolin he is too attached to the Newtonian "timeless" paradigm.

Smolin goes further back to Leibnitz (as do some other contemporary physicists). Leibnitz had a stronger concept of the relational characteristics of those things physicists measure and a set of rules to guide future theorists. Smolin takes up several of these rules and develops an approach to guide theorists through the thicket of current problems in Physics. The result is a wide range of possible approaches where time is "real" and other measures "emergent," which he believes will resolve these crises in theoretical physics.

I feel the best way to read this book is to start with Chapters 10 through 17, then go back and read from the beginning. The beginning (Chapters 1-7) contains the definitions and, I believe, some logical problems, yet is best understood when you see where he is going by reading the latter chapters first. He has been working on these ideas for some time, so it's doubtful one can get a thorough understanding in one reading.

I especially liked Smolin's deft and concise descriptions of other prevailing theories such as those of Julian Barbour who wrote "The End of Time." He disagrees with Barbour but shows a respect and understanding of Barbour rare among mainstream professional physicists. He also illustrates the basis of the lattice theory of space and time in the clearest way I have yet read. He does the same for other well-known approaches to the "big questions."

Some of these "big questions" may be phony. For instance "why does the universe have these laws?" The interrogative "why" is tricky. It was used by my toddlers whether or not appropriate, and sometimes the same by scientists. Perhaps scientists should restrict themselves to "how" questions. Smolin does not get too bogged down by this and does strongly emphasize that theories must be structured so that they make predictions by which theory can be falsified if not true.

I think this is a terrific book for those interested in the foundations of Physics, and is a good preparation for a more focused and detailed work Smolin is preparing. I found it exciting and in many ways a wake-up call for this generation of physicists. Yet it has some totally annoying digressions to political, social, and economic matters which this already overstuffed work can't handle. It gives a feeling of intellectual indigestion. For that reason I did not give it full star rating.
95 internautes sur 118 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Too speculative for me 2 mai 2013
Par John S. - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
All in all, I found this book a bit too speculative for my tastes. While not to my taste, I do recommend this book to those who liked "The Life of the Cosmos", and to those who like to be mystified by all the possible ways in which our universe can be explained, even if none of them are proven science. This book would also appeal to those most interested in the philosophy of scientific ideas, as opposed to science as a descriptor of experimental observations. Those, like myself, who like their science to be coherent and based on actual data would likely not find this book to their liking. I like my science books to be grounded on accepted facts, so for me this was only a two-star book, but perhaps not for you.

In the author's own words (on page 243), "The developments described in Part II in chapters 11 through 18 are not yet fact and do not yet amount to a coherent theory." As such, I had to wonder if it was a bit premature to present ideas that are not yet coherent. I had the feeling that in a decade or so there might be enough data to determine which of the very many ideas contained in this book would be developed into a coherent theory and which would be discarded. Also, this book is replete with theories and ideas, so many that after a while I came to the conclusion that Professor Smolin was covering too much and that the book was not sufficiently focused.

What is in the book -
Time in the context of this book is more philosophical than the parameter found in many of the equations utilized in physics, such as that which defines velocity. In this context, time is (or is not) something that transcends this operational definition, and the unreality of time refers to the idea that time itself is an illusion and is not real, not defining past and future, which may also be illusions. Professor Smolin's believes, and much of this book is aimed at showing, that time itself is real and that the rebirth of the title refers to his refutation of the idea that time is not real. My background and training (as an engineer and materials scientist) puts me squarely in the camp that treats time as real and integral to describing the world, so I never took much stock in the philosophical idea that time was somehow unreal, or dead and in need of rebirth. I found the philosophical aspects of the book, while somewhat interesting, were not my cup of tea.

As near as I can figure, the contention that time is not real stems from several ideas, which have been posited by numerous physicists. Two of these ideas are as follows: (1) Newton's laws describe a universe ruled his equations that describe the effects of a force on the movement of a body. With knowledge of all the initial conditions, Newton's laws enable one to determine the future evolution of a system and somehow this is interpreted as meaning that time in irrelevant, since the evolution of the system is preordained by these equations and the initial conditions. Furthermore, these equations are assumed to be timeless and thus time has no meaning because it is governed by something (the equation) that exists outside of time, in spite of the fact that time is one of the variables used in these equations. (2) Any system can be described in terms of configuration space, with the system moving from position to position, independent of time, in spite of the fact that time is one of the dimensions of this space and that time should enter as the rate at which one goes from position to position. These ideas are refuted in Part II of the book.

The meat of this book is contained in Part II, which occupies 2/3 of the total book. In essence, this book builds on the author's previous book "The Life of the Cosmos". He espouses the idea that, to quote the book, "Our universe is thus a descendant of another universe, born in one of its black holes, and every black hole in our universe is the seed of a new universe." This concept dispenses with the need to have very specific initial conditions for the universe as we know it to have been established. Instead of requiring specific initial conditions and specific laws, the conditions are allowed to evolve through successive black hole generations. The approach (Cosmological Natural Selection) eliminates many of the dilemmas posed by theories such as those employing an inflationary multiverse. Furthermore, Professor Smolin contends that this Cosmological Natural Selection approach is scientific in that it is capable of being proven wrong (the property of falsifiability), but so far has not been proven to be wrong (nor has it been proven to be correct). While wholly speculative, I did find some of these ideas interesting.

This part of the book also extends his ideas to the conundrums of quantum mechanics and he proposes a non-local hidden variable theory to explain them. I found this to be the most interesting part of the book. John Bell proved that hidden variable theories were not possible in quantum mechanics, except if they were non-local, so Smolin's theory is consistent with Bell's analysis. (If you are lost by my reference to non-locality and Bell's theorem, this may not be a book for you.) The book also discusses the second law of thermodynamics and entropy as "time's arrow", and why this proves that time is real.

Most of Part II is devoted to arguments as to why time is real, but that space many not be. This unreality of space is, among other things, used to explain how entangled particles are able to communicate faster than the speed of light in EPR experiments. I also found this to be an interesting part of the book as it gave an explanation (although not a proven one) for the experimental results that illustrate that entangled particles do indeed communicate with each other instantaneously, i.e. faster than the speed of light.
47 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Very enjoyable! 5 mars 2013
Par Brain Buff - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I am writing this review just after I finished my advance reading copy of Time Reborn by Lee Smolin. I really enjoyed it! When it comes out in April, if you enjoy books like those from Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss, etc, it's definitely one that you should pick up. It will contradict much of what you have been taught, but if you ask me, foretells a revolution in cosmology.

The central premises of the book are as follows:

1) Time is real, contrary to what some physicists claim who adhere to a timeless picture of reality (Victor J. Stenger in his book Timeless Reality comes to mind, as well as the Block Universe theory of time which is addressed in this book).

2) The methods of studying parts of the universe cannot be extended to the entire universe itself, which Smolin calls the cosmological fallacy. Smolin has no problem with reductionism as a method for studying parts of the universe, but since the universe just IS and is not just a smaller part of a whole (Smolin rejects the idea that our universe is a bubble/compartment of a larger multiverse), a theory of the entire universe will not be arrived at by the standard methods.

I am admittedly not a physicist, and my training in physics comes only from a couple of college courses I took as an undergrad. However, I have a taste for philosophical questions about things like the nature of time, and was unable to find much literature on the topic, so this book definitely filled a gap in the literature.

As far as the writing style goes, I find Lee Smolin to be very clear, pleasant, and readable. I also like that he tells you what sort of findings could falsify particular ideas of his.

One thing that seems strange is that Smolin accepts that black holes may give birth to baby universes, but rejects the multiverse theory. I find that a bit strange, though he justifies it in chapter 11 by pointing out that arguments based on the anthropic principle don't give specific predictions or explain WHY the laws are the way they are, while cosmological natural selection does. I think his point is not so much in defending the idea of baby universes being selected for those with more stable laws as in trying to prove a point about physics needing to rely on true explanations rather than rationalizations like the anthropic principle.

(The following is more of an aside on something discussed in the epilogue unrelated to physics, so if you are not interested, you can stop reading.)

A somewhat irrelevant gripe I have with the book is over a philosophical disagreement in the epilogue. Smolin defends a form of dualism (the idea in philosophy of mind that the subjective experience or "qualia" we have are different than the brain processes that produce them) called property dualism (distinct from Cartesian or "substance dualism" which is the idea that there is an immaterial mind controlling the body). He doesn't really go in depth as to why he thinks property dualism is the case, but does mention David Chalmers. I have training in neuropsychology and philosophy, so these sorts of mind issues are something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. My answer to that can be found in the books Consciousness Explained by Dan Dennett and A Universe of Consciousness by Gerald Edelman. I only mention this so that those who read the epilogue and would like to read more on the topic can have some literature to read the opposite conjecture. However, it's just a minor disagreement over something in the epilogue and it in no way subtracts from the quality of the book.

Again, if you like physics books, this is DEFINITELY one to get.
31 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great book - covers much more than "time" 28 avril 2013
Par Chris Kennedy - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
In a world filled with books written by fantasy-prone physicists, Smolin’s “Time Reborn” is an honest account of where we are with many fundamental topics in physics. He explores quantum physics, the multiverse theory, the relativity of simultaneity and other theories to see how accurate and/or complete they are and if there are any viable improvements or alternatives that may be testable. He does this while simultaneously exploring whether time itself should be considered real or an illusion within the confines of each of these areas.
He is quick to point out that some of the ideas he explores may be viewed with skepticism (even by himself at times) but also correctly points out (as in the case of the principle of precedence in quantum mechanics) that his view is “far more parsimonious than some of the current fantastic approaches to quantum theory – such as that our reality is one of an infinite set of simultaneously existing worlds.”
Overall, I enjoyed the writing style. I think one of the best chapters is “The Emergence of Space.”
I, myself am still not sure what to think of loop quantum gravity - but given the way it, and other topics are presented in this chapter, I think Richard Feynman would be impressed with Smolin’s skills as an educator.
I think part of the reason why I give this book such a high rating is that it should spark interesting discussions in areas of physics that are clearly not getting enough attention. I mean, how many physicists have the time to reexamine something as successful as quantum mechanics when there are seven or eight extra dimensions to promote? Thankfully, Smolin does. And a good book should just be the beginning of a discussion that continues on as opposed to being the entirety of the discussion itself. Hopefully, this will be the case with this book.
My criticism is that as someone who has also studied the nature of time, I was hoping that there would be more discussion on what possible mechanism is ultimately behind the passage of time (whether real or an illusion). Although several times Smolin examined time theories and their possible consequences on the relativity of simultaneity, he didn’t specifically explore how time dilation (during relative motion and proximity to mass) fit in with a real, global theory of time. I think this was a mistake since, in my opinion: only through a better understanding of what makes clocks speed up or slow down, will we be able to understand what makes them run at all!
Other than that, this read is well worth the “time.”
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