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

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  171 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The Big Bang is all but dead, and we do not yet know what will replace it. Our universe’s “beginning” is at an end. What does this have to do with us here on Earth? Our lives are about to be dramatically shaken again—as altered as they were with the invention of the clock, the steam engine, the railroad, the radio and the Internet.

Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Free Press (first published 2011)
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Fascinating, engaging, well written, with just enough detail to keep it attractive to a large audience. This book does a wonderful job of introducing readers to physics as it points out both the evolution of things we take for granted and the obvious-that-isn't *because* we took it for granted.

Frank describes the tangible ways in which the feedback loop of our engagement with the material world (the tools we build, the actions we perform) changes our conceptions and understanding of time, and h
Just as I have a desire to try to understand economics,I have a desire to try and comprehend physics and cosmology.So, being a reader, I turn to books in an attempt to self educate because I am way too old and encumbered to go back to high school and college and remake myself as a student fully committed to and formally engaged with the study of either of these two complex fields.Hence...I turn to books (like this one!) on the subject. I arrive at titles to explore by reading book reviews.I am ...more
Rhiannon McClatchey
I imagine this would be a more rewarding read for someone not learning about particle physics and quantum gravity for the first time. I probably learned a lot--like about how little we actually know, but I'm not sure how much I'll retain. I was hoping for more predictions about the next phase of time for our society if the current behavior based on efficiency isn't sustainable. He emphasizes we need to choose this relationship actively, this time, but choices aren't presented. Towards the end, h ...more
Dan Falk
There’s something about time that seems to perplex us. It’s easy to measure, but hard to define; the past seems different from the future, but our equations don’t tell us why; it is everywhere, and nowhere. No wonder books about the nature of time appear like… well, clockwork, from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (1988) to Paul Davies’ About Time (1995) to Sean Carroll’s From Eternity to Here (2010) and Roger Penrose’s Cycles of Time (2011). (Full disclosure: I’m guilty of adding to th ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Lis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: science
This is not my usual fare, but I found it very readable and quite amazing. This 2011 book manages to cut a swath through the history of science up to and including quantum physics and current cosmology (theory about the universe etc) including theories of the Big Bang, background microwave radiation in the universe, dark matter and dark energy, possibilities of multiple universes etc. (topics that used to be science fiction but now are seriously discussed ...) He never bogs down or gets too deep ...more
Fascinating book, even if at times too detailed for me to hold in my head! It's both a history of the scientific concepts of time, how it began or if it began or has always been, and one of the cultural concepts of time, which haven't always been the same. It's mostly pretty accessible, despite the tons of detail.
Oct 15, 2011 Jill marked it as to-read
I loved his 3-part series on about how we use/track time and how that has changed us over the last century.
Eli Brooke
Fascinating and engagingly written, perhaps the most personally interesting popular science book I've ever read.
When I took a Freshman-level Physics class in college, basically Astronomy 101, I was still a practicing Mormon. The highly enjoyable class played no distinct role in my choice to leave formal religion and live agnosticism. On the contrary, in the closing weeks of the course, as we delved deeper and further into cosmology, I was impressed by how much room serious science leaves for the existence of god…or at least a godlike force that behaves according to law.

Reading professor and blogger Adam
About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang by Adam Frank

“About Time" is the interesting book about time, both cosmic and human and how they relate to each other. Astrophysicist Adam Frank takes us on a journey of the human quest to find out what happened at that very moment of creation at the beginning of the Big Bang. He provides us with an understanding of how we got to the Big Bang and a provocative look at how cosmology has evolved and the looming alternatives. This 43
Sam Bennett
Over the last twenty years science writing has become far more interesting. In part it's due to what we have learned because of the computer revolution. But also writers are more and more injecting how culture(s) are affected by what we are learning. In fact for genre as a whole, the writing is far more like literature at times than science.

This book is no exception except it is generally more dense as it takes time to discuss details. I like this fact.

I also enjoy this book as it presents exce
The author Adam Frank packed a lot of things in this book about our concepts of time and the changes that took place in civilization because of our awareness of time. There is a fair amount of science and physics discussed as well as the recurring discussion about "Big Bang" theories . He does a great job of reviewing history from the earliest recorded observations of stars and planets and theories of where they came from. It is amazing what the early (B.C.) astronomers came up with, not having ...more
Ken Rideout
I skimmed the book. I am very interested in the history of time and cosmology, but I just couldn't get into the sweeping through all of human history's take on time. Heavy on culture and light on hard science (it's really a history of science book), there were times when I slowed down and read more carefully (like the evolution of the modern calendar in Roman times), but for the most part the book did not hold together for me. Perhaps because so much of the history of these ideas in cosmology an ...more
This was an interesting book that covers a lot of the basics of cosmology. It uses an approach I liked, but that I'm not sure others will appreciate as much. Each chapter is introduced with a (mostly fictional, but not entirely) vignette describing some characters point of view and how it is influenced by the then predominant view of time. Most of what I read (heard, really, as I listened to this in audiobook form) was familiar material. One additional comment I will make is that this book could ...more
Amanda Rae
This is not just a science book. Yes, you will learn about the universe, string theory, and the Big Bang, but Frank goes beyond this, weaving the history of our universe with the history of ourselves and our perception of it as a species, and he does it in a way that neither overwhelms with tedious scientific details nor bores by dumbing down the facts. It is an excellent book about looking to our beginning to look beyond our beginning, and the challenges that we face to get there...and it makes ...more
I dithered about getting this book. It kept catching my eye in displays in various bookshops around the city, so when I saw it on sale I finally caved. I'm so glad I did.

About Time tries to be a lot of things: a history of time and a history of Time, with bonus particle physics and history of science. It does a good to very good job on all fronts. While it's a slow start discussing timekeeping in relation to the known cosmos before the invention of clocks, the pacing is otherwise great and the n
An interesting exploration of both physics and human culture related to time. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for but the title intrigued me and it's a very sweeping and well-written work. I didn't actually read the whole book.
What does the concept of "time" exactly mean? What has it meant throughout history and what does it mean to us today? In "About Time", Adam Frank brilliantly delves into this question. The concept of "time" has alluded us throughout human history and we are now only starting to understand what time truly is. This is an excellent book that delves through the history and modern concept of time in helping us to better understand the reference frame which has helped guide our species.
Arash Farzaneh
An interesting and informative book that is not only about science and cosmology, but looks at how they are all connected to culture and everyday life.

There is a wealth of information here and it puts various ideas about time in its proper context. Most interestingly, it is also a history of cosmology and offers views into scientific history and discoveries, including a brief overview of groundbreaking theories of Newton, Einstein and quantum mechanics.
Amazon review:
'Time' is the most used noun in the English language, yet we still don't really understand it. Adam Frank tells the fascinating story of how humans have struggled to make sense of time, especially in the context of the universe around us. From prehistory to the Enlightenment, through Einstein and on to the multiverse, this is a rich and inspiring tour through some of the biggest ideas that have ever been thought.
The writing is rather repetitive and boring at times but, all in all, this is a very thought provoking book. It's worth reading simply because it gives you fuel for thinking about time and space and how they've affected human culture throughout its existence. The last chapter or so gets into modern cosmological theories, which I think is fascinating.
Mark Williams
I began this book because it was my son's recommendation. He warned that it bogged down in its last pages which it did. This book is a good scientific read. I will look at time differently. I seldom talk about the 'big boom' theory. This book will not change that.
Brilliant non-fiction that follows the science of the universe and time from Stonehenge to String Theory.
This was a fantastic read. The author takes us on a journey through the history of time and mankind's relationship to time and the universe. Beautiful, clearly understandable writing about some complex ideas. Highly recommended.
Overly broad effort to synthesize a massive body of scholarship (astrophysics, cosmology, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.) for popular consumption--fascinating bits but unavoidably superficial.
This book had some really interesting moments. It also had some of the most understandable descriptions of areas of physics that I've read, actually felt like I understood a little bit more.
Jenn Gilmore
A great journey through human history with emphasis on science and cosmology, at a level of
a general reader. Therefore, it is easy to read. It was a pleasure.
Interesting but really technical. Each chapter would start out ok, but the further in I got, the more my brain hurt. : )
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Adam Frank is Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester in New York. The recipient of a prestigious Hubble Fellowship, he writes frequently for Discover, Astronomy, and Scientific American magazines. He is also a co-founder of NPR’s topranking science and culture blog, 13.7 (
More about Adam Frank...
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“Rather than make claims of final theories, perhaps we should focus on our ever-continuing dialogue with the universe. It is the dialogue that matters most, not its imagined end. It is the sacred act of inquiry wherein we gently trace the experienced outlines of an ever-greater whole. It is the dialogue that lets the brilliance of the diamond’s infinite facets shine clearly. It is the dialogue that instills within us a power and capacity that is, and always has been, saturated with meaning.” 1 likes
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