Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book nook: In Search of Time: The Science of a Curious Dimension

A new book on the general topic of how humans have studied and thought about time for decades. It doesn't look to cover the detailed cognitive IQ brain clock research that is the focus of this blog but, nevertheless, it might make a good read for placing our thinking about the phenomena of time in a broad perspective. I may need to purchase and read

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Beginning with a 5000-year-old tomb in Drogheda, Ireland, illuminated only at the winter solstice, science writer Falk asks the question,"What is time?... the stuff that flows... or a dimension, like space?" Falk (Universe on a T-Shirt) explores the origins of calendar time, from primitive astronomical observatories to the precision clocks of today. Though the movement of the heavens provided the basis for years, months, days and even the seven-day week, it wasn't until the Catholic Church needed to date important events like Easter that reconciling the lunar and solar calendars became a major concern; as such, the Church became "one of the strongest supporters of precision astronomy and timekeeping." Falk seamlessly combines science with literary and philosophical observations ("Chaucer had no notion of the length of a minute; Shakespeare did but nowhere does he mention the second") 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 "absolute, 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.
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