Letting the rest of the world go by
There is not a wasted concept in this book. The author explains everything you need to understand about time and why he thinks it is real and how modern physics has taken it out of the equation. He starts with defining mathematics as the study of the unchanging. Math (in the Platonic/Western Thought way) is how how we sneak timelessness into our way of thinking about the universe. The Newtonian paradigm adds to taking time out of the equation by the way we always must consider a subset of the universe as a whole and we are the observers and we create the time, but the part under study never covers the whole universe. Time is external to that which is under study.
The author explains "Boltzman's Brain" so that I finally understand what it means and why it's important, he explains entropy, entanglement, the standard model and Einstein's General relativity and how they relate to how we take time out of the model.
This book will forever change the way I think about time. I think it is probably the best of all the 50 or so astrophysics/cosmology/physics books I've read and reviewed over the last 2 years.
I highly recommend listening to this book. The narrator knew exactly when to have the mocking laugh, the inflection and so on. I suspect the author worked with the narrator to make the presentation that flawless.
(p.s. At the core of this book lurks the question "why is there something instead of nothing". I just listened to Holt's book "Why does the world exist". It's mostly a philosophical book, but both this book and that book do complement each other and would make and excellent summer read).
This was not an easy book to understand and the particle zoo plays a large role in the discussion and often I would lose my way only because the material is sometimes hard to follow, but the book covers everything you always wanted to know about the Higgs Boson and its field, but were afraid to ask.
I absolutely loved the author's previous book, "From Eternity to Here", and couldn't wait for this book. He's such a good writer and explains better than almost anyone. There are enough good parts in this book to make the particle zoo part worth listening to.
There's one important theme that runs through the book that will make the book easier to understand. That is these five words: "not observed waves, observed particles". In the background of the universe is the Higgs field and it is the vibration of this field that gives particles their mass. The author explains this and relates it to possible solutions to dark matter and dark energy.
The author writes in a straightforward manner and explains the science in a highly entertaining manner. If I ever sit next to somebody in a waffle house who starts talking about his life stories, I can easily pivot into one of the five stories splendidly presented in this book. The writer was that good at telling the stories about the blunders, and having listened to it I can probably relate the whole book and it's major points without missing a beat. That tells me the book was well presented.
The narrator made the book better than the written book. I found some of his voices a real hoot, particularly Darwin and Einstein. I would definitely recommend the audible version versus the written form of this book.
For me, this book was a template for having worked in the real world surrounded around very smart people who would fall into the blunders that are illustrated by these five stories. I don't think the author realized how relevant the stories could be for most working stiffs and the kind of people we often have to work with.
Instead of picking Einstein's blunder as the cosmological constant, he should have picked Einstein's failure to accept quantum mechanics after having co-discovered it and wasting his time on the GUT (grand unified theorem) outside of the context of quantum physics. I know why he picked the cosmological constant. It's a funner story to relate and is more relevant today because of the mystery of Dark Energy, and the word blunder is not usually associated with that for Einstein and the cosmological constant is.
Overall, the stories are well presented, and it was narrated much better than it was written, but the author missed a great opportunity to make a better book about the foibles of life in general.
I found this book absolutely fascinating. It's the kind of book that makes you think about things differently, and I found that when I wasn't listening to it, I spent a lot of time thinking through the things I had heard last time I listened. The book is great, the narrator is great, if you're a fan of science, and of learning new, mind-expanding things you hadn't thought about before, read this!