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In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension [Hardcover]

Dan Falk
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 21 2008
An enjoyable and compelling ride through one of life’s most fascinating enigmas

“What, then, is time? If no one ask of me, I know,” St. Augustine of Hippo lamented. “But if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.”

Who wouldn’t sympathize with Augustine’s dilemma? Time is at once intimately familiar and yet deeply mysterious. It is thoroughly intangible: We say it flows like a river — yet when we try to examine that flow, the river seems reduced to a mirage. No wonder philosophers, poets, and scientists have grappled with the idea of time for centuries.

The enigma of time has also captivated science journalist Dan Falk, who sets off on an intellectual journey In Search of Time. The quest takes him from the ancient observatories of stone-age Ireland and England to the atomic clocks of the U.S. Naval Observatory; from the layers of geological “deep time” in an Arizona canyon to Albert Einstein’s apartment in Switzerland. Along the way he talks to scientists and scholars from California to New York, from Toronto to Oxford. He speaks with anthropologists and historians about our deep desire to track time’s cycles; he talks to psychologists and neuroscientists about the mysteries of memory; he quizzes astronomers about the beginning and end of time. Not to mention our latest theories about time travel — and the paradoxes it seems to entail. We meet great minds from Aristotle to Kant, from Newton to Einstein — and we hear from today’s most profound thinkers: Roger Penrose, Paul Davies, Julian Barbour, David Deutsch, Lee Smolin, and many more.

As usual, Dan Falk’s style combines exhaustive research with a lively, accessible, and often humorous style, making In Search of Time a delightful tour through a most curious dimension.

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“Falk’s book is what Hawking’s [A Brief History of Time] should have been.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Falk seamlessly combines science with literary and philosophical observations … and digresses to fascinating topics like root notions of past and future, the vagaries of memory and the behavior of birds at breakfast time. Rounding out his multi-course feast, Falk contrasts Newton’s notion of ‘[a]bsolute, true, and mathematical’ time with Einstein’s final words in 1955, ‘the distinction of past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,’ to present modern speculations on black holes and the universe's future.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Dan Falk is a riveting writer: his latest book is almost unputdownable. He covers an eclectic range of fascinating topics -- from prehistory to the far future. Time is a mysterious commodity: we gain, spend, save and lose it. But everyone should make enough time to read In Search of Time.”
— Martin J. Rees, author of Just Six Numbers and Our Final Hour

“[Falk] selects, organizes and interprets a mass of lore for our enlightenment and pleasure. We owe him.”
Scientific American

About the Author

Dan Falk has written about science for the Globe and Mail, National Post, Walrus, and New Scientist, and has been a regular contributor to the CBC Radio programs Ideas and Quirks and Quarks. He is the winner of the 2002 Canadian Science Writers’ Association Science in Society Journalism Award, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, for Universe on a T-shirt, and the 1999 American Institute of Physics’ Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy. He lives in Toronto.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Broad in Scope Yet Satisfying in Depth Jan. 13 2009
By G. Poirier TOP 50 REVIEWER
In twelve fascinating chapters, the author discusses the vast subject of time. Each of these chapters contains a different perspective on this fascinating yet elusive topic. Roughly the first half of the book includes chapters on: humanity's early recognition of, and musings on, the passage of time, the development of the calendar, the invention of hours and minutes, as well as the cultural and psychological aspects of time. The second half of the book mainly deals with the physical, scientific and philosophical aspects of time, from Isaac Newton's perspective to the latest abstract thinking on the nature and existence of time. Here we find discussions on time's arrow, the beginning and the end of time as well as classical, relativistic and quantum mechanics. The writing style is clear, friendly, quite engaging and accessible to a wide readership. The author takes the time to explain any terms that may be unfamiliar to the casual reader but does not pull any punches when it comes to relaying the views of the various individuals, mainly scientists and philosophers, which he consulted in writing this book. Although anyone can enjoy it, this book would likely be appreciated the most by science buffs.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Time Fly! Nov. 14 2008
Dan Falk's book was both incredibly informative and refreshingly captivating. His unfaltering attention to detail and extensive research process was wonderfully concentrated into an expansive yet highly entertaining read. Never has a book about science been such a page-turner!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars all questions are explored Jan. 20 2010
By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a clear and consise book that covers all aspects of the concept we call 'time'. With a general flair for keeping the reader interested, Dan Falk covers the history, the allusive definitions of and the future implications of this concept. As stated in the recommendations, "Falk's book is what Hawkings (A Brief History of Time) should have been." - Ottawa Citizen. I highly recommend this reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a five star read for an interested non scientist June 20 2014
Verified Purchase
I read this book in intervals, picking it up from time to time which was quite fitting given the topic. It is very well written and makes difficult ideas understandable for the interested novice. I will continue to think about the concepts and issues he explores. Definitely a five star read
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