Chronos: How Time Shapes Our Universe

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Thunder's Mouth, 2005 - Science - 191 pages
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Time is a "thing" that cannot be grasped, yet which undoubtedly exists. It is a "thing" which everybody speaks of but no one has seen. We see, hear, feel, taste IN time, but not time itself. We are sure we are grounded in physical reality, but it is Chronos — the Greek god of time, said to have ruled the world before Zeus — whose strange principles shape our existence. To confront time, we must approach it carefully, "peeling away" its mysteries one by one, distinguishing it from its various side-effects: duration, memory, movement, speed, repetition. Clocks do not necessarily measure time, for time continues even when we think it is running out. Time may carry us along in its flow, but it is a constant. It exists independently of we who observe it, who live through it, who grow old and die in it.

Today, the boldest look at time, and perhaps the most disconcerting, is provided by physicists. Scientists from Galileo to Einstein, and now in the era of anti-matter and superstrings, wrestle with the mind-blowing questions which time raises: Did time precede the universe? How did it start? Can we reverse its flow? Do several "times" exist in time?

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About the author (2005)

A physicist at the French atomic energy commission and a professor of physics and the philosophy of science at the Ecole Centrale de Paris, Étienne Klein is one of the world's foremost specialists on the question of time and physics. He is the winner of the 2004 Prix Jean Rostand, a prize given in honor of the great biologist and writer, and the author of numerous books popularizing science.

Translated by Glenn Burney, an American professor at the prestigious Ecole de Sciences Politiques.

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