SCIENCE

Book review: 'From Eternity to Here' by Sean Carroll

Sunday, February 7, 2010

FROM ETERNITY TO HERE

The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

By Sean Carroll

Dutton. 438 pp. $26.95

Unless you're Stephen Hawking or you study quanta at Caltech, the particulars of cosmology -- that's the study of the whole universe -- might pass through you like neutrinos. But Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist and co-founder of the layman-friendly blog cosmicvariance.com, does his best to make the arcane accessible in "From Eternity to Here." This isn't the Big Bang for Dummies: On the first page Carroll announces that he will address "the nature of time, the beginning of the universe, and the underlying structure of physical reality. We're not thinking small here."

Though he exiles much of the math to an appendix, Carroll keeps it real, getting at the complex guts of cutting-edge cosmology in discussions that will challenge fans of Hawking's "A Brief History of Time." Carroll's penchant for kitchen metaphors helps explain such complexities as the Second Law of Thermodynamics -- that entropy tends to increase (a main concern of the book). According to the law as explained by Carroll, the Big Bang probably won't happen again, and scrambled eggs probably couldn't be unscrambled even in a universe that ran backward.

-- Justin Moyer


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