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Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time
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Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  321 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The brain—the most complex dynamical system in the known universe—tells, represents, and perceives time in multiple ways. In this virtuosic work of popular science, neuroscientist and best-selling author Dean Buonomano investigates the intricate relationship between the brain and time: What is time? Why does time seem to speed up or slow down? Is our sense that time flows ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company (first published May 19th 2017)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  321 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Anders Rasmussen
I feel obliged to admit that, like the author, I am a scientist working on the neuroscience of timing. There are not many non-fiction books about time, behavior and neuroscience and therefore I simply had to read this book. And I am glad I did.

The book begins with a summary of the psychology, philosophy, pharmacology and physiology of time. The author has an excellent grasp of the issues at stake and the importance of doing research on these topics. How do humans measure short and long time inte
Dan Graser
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic introduction to the relationship of our modern concepts of time to the very fine detail we have as to the workings of the brain. Dean Buonomano very clearly spells out what he means by calling the brain a time machine:

1) The brain is a machine that remembers the past in order to predict the future.
2) The brain is a machine that tells time.
3) The brain is a machine that creates the sense of time.
4) The brain allows us to mentally travel back and forth in time.

There are no woo-
C.T. Phipps
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
One of the more comforting things I find about the universe is that scientifically speaking, death doesn't exist. This is something which we don't discuss much because science and religion are sometimes at war with one another (with the exception of some versions of Buddhism and Hinduism).

Einstein pointed out to the widow of a close friend that while it appeared she lost his husband, he existed alive and well in the past and would eternally. He was no more dead than simply being in a different
Eryk Banatt
An average book, which ended up being a bit of a chore to get through.

This book seems to be trying pretty earnestly to be a comprehensive look at time, but ends up being what feels like a large collection of loosely tied together anecdotes about time. Each section has almost enough cited info to form an intro university course's syllabus, but none of them quite reach it, and the book feels shallow as a result.

Buonomano explores a lot of different fields. Philosophy, eternalism vs presentism, fr
Bernd Meyer
Excellent where the author sticks to his guns: neuroscience and psychology. But the excursions into physics and philosophy are shallow at times and not always correct. Ultimately, the book doesn't deliver on its goal to create a unified view of the perception of time. It could have been a much better book if the author focussed on neuroscience. Despite this worthwhile reading.
Aditya  Singh
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hard to put down! Brilliantly written, addressed a complex fact extremely complex ....topic in a manner that you flow with it till the end.....and beyond!
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
It contains a good amount of recent thought about the workings of the mind and the timespans that we require to build a narrative of our experiences and react accordingly. There is a lot of discussion about the history of time as a concept that I have read many times before, which I read with pleasure, despite knowing most of it, because time is a subject I have been passionately interested in since the 90s.
He briefly mentions and dismisses George Ellis' idea that time exists in the past exactl
Mike Putnam
Fascinating topic, but a dry read in some spots. It also seemed that the concluding chapter ended somewhat abruptly, with interesting discussions such as the concept of 'free will' receiving incredibly short shrift. This book should be read in tandem with Burdick's 'Why Time Flies.'
Michael Chow
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike the other books I used to read in the past, this is a book that I picked up randomly from the book store and to my pleasant surprise turned out to be a great entertainment.

I tend to read books related to technology, engineering, people skill and character building.
Neuroscience and Physics has no clear direct connection with my profession. It is exactly the completely out of band domain knowledge that indulged me to taste the pure joy of satisfying the fundamental curiosity I had long f
George Siehl
A challenging read that gives one much (too much?) to think about. The fields of biology, physics, and philosophy offer insights into how we relate to Time. Mystery pervades the text, with the author declining to offer a definition of Time, while proceeding to explain how fundamental it is to the functioning of the human brain, a mechanism of multiple clocks, as he describes it.

The first half of the book, "Brain Time," deals extensively with neuroscience and the functioning of the mass of neuron
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All us can look at a clock and know what time it is but who among us knows what is time? That is just the first of many issues raised by Dean Buonomano in this fascinating book.

Dr. Buonomano leaves defining what is time, if time exists, or is it something humans invented unanswered because, as of now, no-one seems to know. We know, because of Einstein, that time is relative. We do know time is is subjective - that it seems to go faster when we are having fun than when we are bored. We know that
Time is a complex subject without satisfactory answers. These inherent aspects of the topic hurt the book's utility.

Time poses different challenges when viewed from different theoretical angles. It is a subject studied in great detail philosophically (including spiritually) and scientifically for millenias. The book tries to summarise some of these characteristics but does not even scratch the surface. Excellent popular books are written on these sides of time. Anyone who has read such works is
Magdalena Otap
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very extensive book on one of my favourite topics: Time. It covered time from different perspectives.

Physical time:
- The "objective" time that we measure with clocks
- Time as the fabric of the universe (part of 4D spacetime) as defined in Einsteins relativity
- Time as a parameter that governs the evolution of a quantum system and the conflict of the role of time in quantum mechanics and the relativity theory

Biological time
- Our circadian clock and sense of time related to day/night
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great overview of how the fields of physics and neuroscience approach the study of time: how they overlap and where they butt heads. Historical context, thought experiments, and countless research studies form the framework for how our concept of time has evolved across fields of study. Circadian and biological rhythms inform our mental alarm clocks, but we also employ various levels of more precise neuro-timers to properly parse speech, music and memories. Sundials, crystal quartz watches and a ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The feeling of time flow, or thinking of past or anticipating of future, maybe is the consequence of human's biological evolution. In theoretical physics, as time combining with space, it gives arise to some new understanding of physical world. However, inside our mental world, the time remains in conjectural and indescribable in a strict scientific sense. Perhaps, it is our mind, which is incapable of understanding what is time, at least in nowadays, stops us from breaking through the barrier o ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much interesting content here- heck, I'm pretty sure I should give any book with a chapter titled "8:00 Time: What the Hell Is It?" five stars. However, I was so, totally bored in the middle of the book so I can't do that. What can I say? I enjoy physics stuff more than biological so the heavily biological chapters wore me down (yeah, I actually just flipped through some of those pages in the neurological chapters like a zombie on my morning bus commute to work). But once the physics - in all it ...more
David Msomba
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
On my second year as a Med student,I came across the physiological concept know as circadian rythm,it was an intriguing concept that I wanted to know/learn more but I didn't have the time nor the right material to explore further.

I'm glad,I decided to read this book,the author did a great job to explain this concept along side many other concepts about time, bringing the knowledge from different fields of science,physics,neuroscience and philosophy and their long resilient quest on finding answe
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dean Buonomano is a neurobiology professor at UCLA and he's published an interesting exploration of physics, neuroscience, and the overlap between the two. I found this very readable and interesting, mostly for its insights into the brain, though Buonomano is also good at boiling down complex physics concepts to make them understandable. For the most part, the book is about how humans are able to experience "mental time travel," i.e. the ability to remember a specific experience in the past and ...more
Yip Jung Hon
It was SO good. I cannot begin to describe the vastness of ideas presented here. From neuroscience to language, from entropy to the Einstein's Special Relativity, this book draws us into a myriad of concepts we encounter in our everyday lives and elegantly weaves neuroscience and modern physics together, drawing similarities between these fundamentally contrasting disciplines. It tackles some poignant questions of our time: What is time? Does time really exist or is it something construed by hum ...more
Julie Foyle
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For me, the designation “popular science” can be rather pejorative because of its connotation of dumbing down scientific information; however, while Your Brain is a Time Machine is indeed popular science in that it is accessible for those if us who lack an extensive knowledge of physics and math, it most certainly does not dumb down the fascinating material that Prof. Buonomano presents. This book actively deals with provocative questions and is well written with clarity and humor. I do not purp ...more
Eli Pollock
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wide-ranging and accessible treatment of the neuroscience and physics of time. At times it felt a little scattered, given how vast the study of time is. It also seemed to overemphasize the connection between physics and neuroscience (for example, describing parallels between the theory of relativity and the way that time perception works, even though relativity has nothing to do with time perception).

I especially appreciated the section on population clocks, neural dynamics, and chaos. These are
Adam Bartley
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated with Neuroscience, and greatly intrigued by time... little did I know after this book I would be exhilarated by physics. Dean Buonomano does a tremendous job of breaking down various concepts of time, while keeping the reader engaged with various figures throughout the reading. The biggest takeaway for myself personally while reading this is time is truly a precious thing, but we need not to be ruled by time, and instead rule it. The time displayed on our clocks is ...more
Scott Wozniak
This is a fascinating topic and the best aspect of this book is how he draws from multiple disciplines to explore the nature of time. But unfortunately he doesn’t draw from each field equally well. Philosophy, in particular, he handles poorly—asserting his religious beliefs as facts that function as the boundaries of what’s possible. If this was limited to a single section I wouldn’t have dinged him a star—but he brings his assumptions into the rest of the discussion, pushing or dismissing the p ...more
Jasmine Koh
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are three kinds of time: subjective-time (how we experience time), clock-time (how we measure time) and natural time (time as a component of reality). The author helpfully distinguishes these three in his exposition of time, starting first with an account of subjective time before moving on to time as a part of our physical world. I thought the exposition on the special theory of relativity was
particularly good - can't say I understand it fully yet, but I've glimpsed a little more from th
Curt Bobbitt
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite non-technical language, some parts of this study still require knowledge of both neurology and modern physics. Two quotations at the end of the book summarize its tentative conclusions: "Yet, counterintuitive as it may be, the notion that the past and future as equally real as the present is the favored theory about the nature of time" (230) and "If one were to unwisely attempt to summarize the function of the brain in three words, those words might be anticipate the future" (232).
Sandy Sopko
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been fascinated with time and the idea of time travel. I really enjoyed reading this book, written by a professor of neurobiology and psychology, because of its perspective and the fundamental question, does the architecture of the brain itself bias how we perceive time? Is it possible that architecture biases how physicists understand time? After reading this book, I am not decided about whether I am an eternalist or a presentist, or some mash-up of the two; however, I am fascinat ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first part of this book describes how our brain handles chronology, horology, and the phenomenology of temporality. The second part explores the contradiction between experiential presentism and ontological eternalism, and implies the latter maybe attributed to the transcendental idealism of our epistemology, because consciousness must entail presentism. The author's occasional existential musings at times irriate but do not detract from the clarity of his thesis. Four stars.
Malek Atia
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
المشكلة الذي يطرحها هذا الكتاب هي كيف نثق باتجربة حين تعارض البديهي الذي يمكن ان نكون بنينا عليه تلك التجربة او تجارب اخرى.
الزمن لدى الكثير من الفيزيائيين الحاليين غير موجود لكن هذا الشيء يطرح المشكل المذكور سابقا كيف يمكن للانسان ان يشكك في مسلماته و هو في نفس الحين يستخدمها لبناء نضريات،كل هذه النقاشات و الابحاث تحثني ان اتشبث في تعريفي للعلم و الذي هو:
العلم ليس بحثا عن الحقيقة إنما البحث عما يجلب لنا المنفعة.
املك رغبة كبيرة في قراءة كل ما يحمل نزعة شكوكية و هذا الكتاب كان كذلك .
Daniel Gusev
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worthwhile collection of studies and experiments showcasing how brain perceives time (an illusion just like colour) and ensuing from that the concept for utilising it in the context of space. The relativity of time we learn as kids and the views on past, present and future are either momentous or everpresnt.

Still, the book lacks inner motion to surprise - as well as new things we expect while preparing to spend time, captivated by the title.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't think I actually understood much at all in this book (a man on a train shoots the front and back windows simultaneously, but you on the platform see them break one at a time - MY HEAD HURTS!!)... but by golly I enjoyed it!
Really interesting stuff about how our brains process and work with time.
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Dean Buonomano is a professor in the Departments of Neurobiology and Psychology and the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. He lives in Los Angeles.
“The objective world simply is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along the world line of my body, does a section of the world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time.” 0 likes
“The objective world simply is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along the world line of my body, does a section of the world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time.”15” 0 likes
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