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The Direction of Time

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  47 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Ever a source of philosophical conjecture and debate, the concept of time represents the beating heart of physics. This final work by the distinguished physicist Hans Reichenbach represents the culmination and integration of a lifetime's philosophical contributions and inquiries into the analysis of time. The result is an outstanding overview of such qualitative, or topolo ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 2nd 1999 by Dover Publications (first published July 17th 1991)
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May 08, 2018 added it
I will not write a review about this book, since I tried to complete it but simply couldn't follow Reichenbach's analysis of thermodynamical concepts of time. I'm vaguely familiar with the main concepts but he uses theories and equations that are way above my head (as with the latter parts of the book focused on quantum mechanics).

And sadly, Reichenbach died of a heart attack while writing this book (1953), so the final chapter is missing. In this chapter he wanted to connect the physical concep
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Meh. After being initially very excited about this book, I dragged the reading of it out for about four years until I could hardly stand it anymore. Granted the scope that the author sets for the book is very wide and it is admirable that he meets his objective within such a small volume. Reichenbach follows the trajectory of time from classical to atomic, from statistical to quantum statistical and finally to quantum physics, each time asking,"Gee, can we just think of time the way we did befor ...more
Nick Black
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Requires a serious effort, but well worth it. Deep, deep, deep, throw-me-into-shallow-water-before-I-get-too-deep-style deep.
No light reading from Reichenbach, though anyone with a university degree in one of the hard sciences should have a decent shot at understanding the gist of the technical bits, if not every detail.

Parts I and II are the introduction (on the emotive significance of time) and on the time ordering in mechanics. Parts III and IV are where things go haywire with thermodynamics, micro and macrostatistics; if you're looking for a review of Boltzmann's work, this is the material to read. Part IV is time
Moustafa Badwy
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book: very clear explanation of some very complex concepts. Surprisingly readable for one not initiated in the jargon of physics. What's most refreshing though is that the author refrains from using vaguely defined or unclear language, which is very uncommon when treating a fringe subject like this.
In short, a masterpiece!
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is interesting how much this book seems like an antecedent (parent) to Judea Pearl's causal inference and Bayesian network work! I loved the concepts of entropy and the direction of time, which this book definitely delves into with Boltzman's contributions to the field. Of note to potential readers, most of the content in the book seems to hold up against the passing of time - given it was written ~70 years ago.

P.S., the book does contain many formulas and physics concepts.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: time-tempo
Estremamente preciso e interessante. Forse un po' troppo per gli addetti ai lavori. Consiglio libri più divulgativi sul tema prima di leggere questo. Uno su tutti quello di Carlo Rovelli, l'Ordine del Tempo. ...more
Robert Swanson
Detailed, lots of math - I scanned much of the math sections.
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“There is no logical necessity for the existence of a unique direction of total time; whether there is only one time direction, or whether time directions alternate, depends on the shape of the entropy curve plotted by the universe.” 0 likes
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