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Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time | [The Great Courses]

Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

Time rules our lives, woven into the very fabric of the universe-from the rising and setting of the sun to the cycles of nature, the thought processes in our brains, and the biorhythms in our day. Nothing so pervades our existence and yet is so difficult to explain. But now, in a series of 24 riveting lectures, you can grasp exactly why - as you take a mind-expanding journey through the past, present, and future, guided by a noted author and scientist.
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Publisher's Summary

Time rules our lives, woven into the very fabric of the universe - from the rising and setting of the sun to the cycles of nature, the thought processes in our brains, and the biorhythms in our day. Nothing so pervades our existence and yet is so difficult to explain.

But now, in a series of 24 riveting lectures, you can grasp exactly why - as you take a mind-expanding journey through the past, present, and future, guided by a noted author and scientist. Designed for nonscientists as well as those with a background in physics, the lectures show how a feature of the world that we all experience - a process known as entropy - connects us to the instant of the formation of the universe, and possibly to a multiverse that is unimaginably larger and more varied than the known cosmos.

Drawing on such exciting ideas as black holes, cosmic inflation, and dark energy, the lectures also address a momentous question that until recently was considered unanswerable: What happened before the big bang? And while the focus is on physics, Professor Carroll also examines philosophical views on time, how we perceive and misperceive time, the workings of memory, and serious proposals for time travel, as well as imaginative ways that time has been disrupted in fiction.

"What is time?" asked Saint Augustine 1,600 years ago. "If no one asks me, I know. But if I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know not." These lectures will move you much closer to an answer.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-24-13
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-24-13 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Get From Eternity to Here instead"

    These lectures were OK but they were almost completely a not as good rehash of the materials in the professors book From Eternity to Here. The book was quite good but took a few shortcuts describing entropy that made it difficult to fully understand. The lectures take even more shortcuts. There is not much point to the lectures after reading the book. Other than that, the lectures are pretty good, but the structure of the book is better and more carefully presented. So, get the book instead. If you like repetition, then do the lectures before the book.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Encino, CA, United States 07-30-13
    Robert Encino, CA, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Familiar Ground, But Well Told"

    Having read / listened to a number of "popular science" books (Greene, Hawking) that address the origin and fate of the universe, the concept of time and the role of entropy are familiar and central concepts in those books. It was about the third lecture of this series before I thought I learned anything new, but by slow accretion and careful explanation by Sean Carroll, I began to have a deeper understanding of time and why it is, indeed, still such a mystery Carroll has an earnest, engaging style. He does a good job of maintaining a coherent narrative through the lectures, so it is easy to follow his development of the topic. Not much math here (good from my perspective) except when he lays out Boltzman's equation for entropy. All in, I recommend this course. Like many of the concepts in modern physics, the ideas are counter-intuitive and elusive--at least to this former English major. Revisiting them from time to time is helpful in solidifying central concepts--and entropy / time is certainly one that deserves re-examination. Like all "Great Courses" lectures, these are survey level courses, so if you are someone who is calculating the trajectory of the next NASA probe to Mars, move along, there is nothing for you to see. But, if like me, you have a general interest in science, you will find this course worth your time and an enjoyable listen.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guilherme Porto Alegre, Brazil 01-16-14
    Guilherme Porto Alegre, Brazil 01-16-14 Member Since 2011

    You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. —Wayne Gretzky

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    "Making an is not as easy as it seems."

    Physics is no easy subject, at least to me. Quantum theory harder still. However the author does a terrific job making theoretical physics accessible for the regular person. On top of that, there is just so much interresting stuff in this book that it is almost impossible to get everything in only one listen, specially while you are driving. I'm planning to listen it at least once again.

    It is a book for those people who like me are absolutely fascinated by physics but just don't get what does those weird equations mean. If I had a teacher like that on high school I would probably had studied physics on college.. but you don't find teacher like him on highschools. =( It is the first time I can say I understand what entropy really is. I read many times on wikipedia and other books, and I thought I did understand, now i know I do.

    There is still a long way to go before humanity is able to fully grasp the misteries of the big bang. And maybe the future that looks rather bleak may have a way out, to survive the end of the universe... hopefully

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Adam Chicago, IL, United States 05-27-14
    Adam Chicago, IL, United States 05-27-14 Member Since 2010
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    "More about entropy and less about time."
    What made the experience of listening to Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time the most enjoyable?

    He gets very very technical and detailed. I got a lot out of each lecture.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time?

    I appreciated that he deconstructed this idea of the "laws of physics" being absolute. The second law of thermodynamics in particular.


    What about Professor Sean Carroll’s performance did you like?

    Great lecturer. Has an engaging way of speaking and he prepared these lectures in a very accessible way.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Time is not what you think.


    Any additional comments?

    I said above that it's more about entropy than time. But, in the first lecture he points out that entropy is the best way to think about time. And he carries this through all the way to the end.

    This was the most dense of the Great Courses Lectures I've listened to so far. Probably worth a second and third listen. You will get a lot out of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mengqi NEWARK, CA, United States 01-17-14
    Mengqi NEWARK, CA, United States 01-17-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Repetitive and not exactly convincing"
    Any additional comments?

    This lecture series was okay, but I was expecting so much more from it since time is such an interesting topic. I didn't appreciate the lecturer's style much either. He literally repeated the same examples more than five times per lecture sometimes and it just got really dry. Entropy was one of the most important topics of this series, but the lecturer's argument as to why entropy is important for time was not convincing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Jim Vaughan
    Malvern, UK
    10/30/13
    Overall
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    "Everything you ever wanted to know about time..."

    I have previously taken a number of "Great Courses" series, from "The Teaching Company" - they are almost always excellent, and to be able to get them through Audible, represents very good value.

    This course on Time is no exception. Professor Caroll has the perfect voice for explaining complex concepts in physics - slightly geeky sounding, but very easy to listen to, and immediately likeable. While he explains all the concepts he uses, so there is no need to have any background in Physics, I found some grounding helpful, as he gets into some quite complex stuff, fairly quickly.

    The lectures cover all aspects of Time, from "why am I always late" to measurement and the "longditude problem", the "block" or "salami" models of time, Relativity, space-time and time dilation, black holes, the early universe, and a lot on thermodynamics! The main question, which the series attempts to answer is "why is there an arrow of time?" going always from the past to the future.

    The various explanations for the arrow of time, (such as the probablistic explanation for the second law of thermodynamics) are prised apart, to show their circularity, such that it seems to come down to explaining the nature of the early universe, and the "past hypothesis". Without giving more away, this becomes the central intellectual puzzle, which drives us on towards the end.

    If, like me, you like these kind of "ultimate questions", and you enjoy concepts in Physics, (without delving into Maths), I can thoroughly recommend this course.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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