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Anthony Campbell
Thymos
Soshichi Uchii

Julian Barbour

The End of Time

The first part of this book takes a very simple universe with just three particles, making a triangle. Barbour shows how a configuration of such a universe can be represented as a point in a hypothetical space, Platonia. This leads on to discussions of absolute space and time. The book then introduces the reader to quantum mechanics and relatvity and so is suitable for the non-specialist reader. The book concludes with a discussion of Barbour's claim that the flow of time is an illusion, that all that we truly experience are instants. Barbour is a skilled writer, and I think that anyone interested in the philosophy of time will find much of interest in this book.

I have to say that I think that there are problems with Barbour's ideas though. Firstly relativity says that there are many ways of matching 'now' here with 'now' elsewhere. Barbour includes all such ways as part of Platonia, which I feel is excessively bloated as a result - mathematical fictions have been substituted for reality. The second problem is the deciding what exactly an instant is - do we have to accept uncountably many instants in the smallest interval. I find any philosophy which requires a particular structure for time at the lowest level to suspect. However, I wouldn't say that these were criticisms of the book, rather an indication of how Barbour's ideas can stimulate discussion.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0195145925
Salesrank: 346739
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2001 Oxford University Press
Amazon price $15.40
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0753810204
Salesrank: 301408
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2000 W&N
Amazon price £9.99
Marketplace:New from £6.64:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0195145925
Salesrank: 216435
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2003 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 39.37
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 20.00:Used from CDN$ 2.27
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Product Description
Richard Feynman once quipped that "Time is what happens when nothing else does." But Julian Barbour disagrees: if nothing happened, if nothing changed, then time would stop. For time is nothing but change. It is change that we perceive occurring all around us, not time. Put simply, time does not exist.
In this highly provocative volume, Barbour presents the basic evidence for a timeless universe, and shows why we still experience the world as intensely temporal. It is a book that strikes at the heart of modern physics. It casts doubt on Einstein's greatest contribution, the spacetime continuum, but also points to the solution of one of the great paradoxes of modern science, the chasm between classical and quantum physics. Indeed, Barbour argues that the holy grail of physicists--the unification of Einstein's general relativity with quantum mechanics--may well spell the end of time.
Barbour writes with remarkable clarity as he ranges from the ancient philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, through the giants of science Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, to the work of the contemporary physicists John Wheeler, Roger Penrose, and Steven Hawking. Along the way he treats us to enticing glimpses of some of the mysteries of the universe, and presents intriguing ideas about multiple worlds, time travel, immortality, and, above all, the illusion of motion.
The End of Time is a vibrantly written and revolutionary book. It turns our understanding of reality inside-out.