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Book Reviews, Cosmology

Book Review: About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang

8 Nov , 2012 by

When introducing his book “About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang,” author Adam Frank tells us that he is setting out to “unfold the grandest conception of the universe we human beings have been able to imagine and explore. At the same time embracing our most intimate and most personal experience of the world — the very frame of human life.”

“This book is about time, both cosmic and human.”

For those interested in the complex journey of humanity through the cosmos, Frank does not fail in his quest to unravel the unique web of ‘time’ into a thread of understandable science. That is, if you can take a partially solved puzzle and write a book that connects the proverbial dots of known science and cultural anthropology with the partially understood theories of cosmology and related sciences.

Mission accomplished by Frank.

Upon first receiving this book, I was hopeful that Frank would present the material of thousands of years of science in a unique and interesting way; setting his writing apart from the hundreds of other astronomy books I’ve read. Frank, being a seasoned writer and astrophysics professor, did not disappoint. Frank takes you on a conversational journey, filled with real life examples, both personal and historical, to share his view of some of the most multifarious ideas being considered in our galaxy today.

The first few chapters are a review of compound science related to our galaxy, but Frank quickly dives into a discussion of how culture has been affected by the world around it. From there Frank draws a picture from intricate ideas and theories of how society fits in the larger puzzle of cosmology. All while focusing on the measurement of time.

If you are looking to take your perspective of cosmology to a new and deeper level, allow Adam Frank to steal some of your time and read his book “About Time”. Frank will surely have you viewing your society, history, and clock in a whole new perspective. Not to mention putting you on the forefront of scientific theories and cultural progress being considered in the world of cosmology.

Adam Frank is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester and a regular contributor to Discover and Astronomy magazines, and is the co-founder of National Public Radio’s popular 13:7 Cosmos & Culture blog. He won an American Astronomical Society Prize for his scientific writing. His first book was The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate.

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By
Kristopher Poskey is an active duty member of the United State Army. As an academic junior, he began his college career at Texas A&M where he studied Forensics and Investigative Sciences. In his spare time, Mr. Poskey continues to study astronomy, cosmology, international security, astrophotography, and political science. Mr. Poskey writes for various individuals and organizations.



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daniel_rey_m
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daniel_rey_m
November 10, 2012 3:34 PM
…but Hoyle and others were right: there is no beginning and no end, both spacewise and timewise. Reason shows that finitude is a logical impossibility. This was realized maybe thousands of years ago, and at least ever since classical times. The phrase ex nihilo nihil (fit), “nothing can spring forth from nothing”, explains it all in a nutshell. Evidence for the expansion of space is not to be confused with evidence for a Big Bang (the beginning of space and time, which is absurd), and it is compatible with an eternally pulsating or breathing universe, the Heart Universe or Lung Universe. The problem is this: that infinity is also logically impossible. The Olbers Paradox is another misunderstanding. Those… Read more »
solarx2
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solarx2
November 10, 2012 3:57 PM

it’s possible that, like with the surface of the earth any attempt to find the “edge” would simply find you back where you started.

but then really, that question along with all others regarding inifinity, and before or after the universe are, in the cold light of day, nonsense questions since they can never be answered anyway.

Prism2Spectrum
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Prism2Spectrum
November 12, 2012 1:44 PM
May I disagree with your judgment that questions about the origin and fate of the Universe of Time are “nonsense”. Maybe from a secular evolutionary perspective, which views all knowledge — Earth’s past chronology to Space-Time chronometry — as only acquirable through empirical Science of the five senses of physical man. Final, authoritative answers to the big questions on the forefront of Science may be more profound than we can even imagine. Could some of the more inaccessible of those burning questions, which light the great Institutes of human inquiry, find answers through, of all things, revelation? You are probably right in stating that, the most distant of them, stirring scientific investigation, may “never be answered …. in… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
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Lawrence B. Crowell
November 11, 2012 3:02 AM
A spacetime can be finite without necessarily having a boundary or edge. If the universe is a sphere there is no boundary, and this 3 dimensional sphere dynamically evolves from a point to maximum size and back to a point. This is then a 4 dimensional sphere. For various reasons I don’t think this is realistic. Cardenas pointed out that this cosmology will exceed an entropy bound when it starts to recollapse. The k = 0 FLRW spacetime is a flat three dimensional space that dynamically evolves where points separate from each other. Galaxies or particles then “ride along” on these points and the universe to any local observer is then expanding. The k = 0 case is… Read more »
daniel_rey_m
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daniel_rey_m
November 11, 2012 8:19 AM
Icrowell and Solar x 2: Even more outlandish than any “nonsense question” is the notion of a spherical space where, if you keep going straight ahead, you will come back to the starting point, or of a hyperbolic, saddle-shaped space, riding on the horse of nothingness, or maybe immersed in the Sea of Nothing. Intuitively we’ve always realized that space is no more than a boundless room that holds things like fish in a bowl. The crazy topology that endues space with shape is based on numbers scribbled on paper. They get away with it because only a few thousand scholars can go through the math involved. This gives them the power to hex everybody else and make… Read more »
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