Some books that deserved to be read multiple times. This is one of three books I first read a few months ago, and I just revisited them all to find that they are still as good as I remembered them. See also my reviews of Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell
and Reinventing Gravity
In his book In Search of Time
, the author Dan Falk walks through the theories of time, from our earliest ancestors' perception of time to the development of various calendars to today's world of atomic clocks.
I must admit that I have a bad habit. When I'm in the process of reading a book and I need to take a break, I fold the upper corner of the right-hand page and use it as a book mark. The other three corners I fold as necessary to keep track of interesting tidbits of trivia and nuggets of knowledge. So you may be interested to know that my copy of In Search of Time is bristling with folded corners marking a plethora of fascinating facts.
It's difficult to explain just how great this book is. In the same way as another book I recently read (see my review of Reinventing Gravity
), In Search of Time boggled my mind. Like most folks (or at least most folks I know), I would have said that time seems to be a fairly obvious concept ... until you read this book.
I was amazed to discover that Saint Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) spent years pondering the problem of time. As he famously commented: "What, then, is time? If no one ask of me, I know, but if wish to explain to him who asks, I know not."
Having read this book, I know just how he felt.
When I started to write this review, I had all sorts of points I wished to present... but when I come to try to explain them I run into the same problem as did Saint Augustine. This is not to say that In Search of Time does a bad job of explaining things ... it's just that this things it's trying to explain are so mind-boggling that ... my mind is boggled.
Note that we are not talking about complex mathematical equations or anything like that. It's the philosophical issues that bring you to your metaphorical knees (did time exist before the big bang, for example, or did the big bang bring time into existence?).
The bottom line is that this book is STRONGLY recommended. And, if having read it you understand what time is, please drop me a line and explain it to me (grin).