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Publisher's Summary

Time rules our lives, woven into the very fabric of the universe - from the rising and setting of the sun to the cycles of nature, the thought processes in our brains, and the biorhythms in our day. Nothing so pervades our existence and yet is so difficult to explain.

But now, in a series of 24 riveting lectures, you can grasp exactly why - as you take a mind-expanding journey through the past, present, and future, guided by a noted author and scientist. Designed for nonscientists as well as those with a background in physics, the lectures show how a feature of the world that we all experience - a process known as entropy - connects us to the instant of the formation of the universe, and possibly to a multiverse that is unimaginably larger and more varied than the known cosmos.

Drawing on such exciting ideas as black holes, cosmic inflation, and dark energy, the lectures also address a momentous question that until recently was considered unanswerable: What happened before the big bang? And while the focus is on physics, Professor Carroll also examines philosophical views on time, how we perceive and misperceive time, the workings of memory, and serious proposals for time travel, as well as imaginative ways that time has been disrupted in fiction.

"What is time?" asked Saint Augustine 1,600 years ago. "If no one asks me, I know. But if I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know not." These lectures will move you much closer to an answer.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

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Dissapointing

You won't learn much about the mysteries of time and physics, wanders off into all sorts of other dull old topics.

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I am not smart enough

Fancinating exploration on time via physics. But I found some of the chapters difficult to follow.

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Sean Carroll does it again!

Another winner by Sean Carroll, who has quickly become my favourite physicist and author. I have listened to this audio book twice and it was great both times. It's a great balance of practical and theoretical physics applied to the concept of time and entropy. Highly recommend. Also check out The Big Picture by Sean Carroll if you like this kind of thing. Light to moderate understanding of modern physics would help in reading this book, though probably not completely necessary.

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  • Michael
  • 2013-07-24

Get From Eternity to Here instead

These lectures were OK but they were almost completely a not as good rehash of the materials in the professors book From Eternity to Here. The book was quite good but took a few shortcuts describing entropy that made it difficult to fully understand. The lectures take even more shortcuts. There is not much point to the lectures after reading the book. Other than that, the lectures are pretty good, but the structure of the book is better and more carefully presented. So, get the book instead. If you like repetition, then do the lectures before the book.

95 people found this helpful

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  • aimee
  • 2015-01-02

Awesome!

Very well spent time learning about the physics of Time. The narration was excellent and the scientific concepts very accessible for a non-scientist.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 2014-05-27

More about entropy and less about time.

What made the experience of listening to Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time the most enjoyable?

He gets very very technical and detailed. I got a lot out of each lecture.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time?

I appreciated that he deconstructed this idea of the "laws of physics" being absolute. The second law of thermodynamics in particular.

What about Professor Sean Carroll’s performance did you like?

Great lecturer. Has an engaging way of speaking and he prepared these lectures in a very accessible way.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Time is not what you think.

Any additional comments?

I said above that it's more about entropy than time. But, in the first lecture he points out that entropy is the best way to think about time. And he carries this through all the way to the end.

This was the most dense of the Great Courses Lectures I've listened to so far. Probably worth a second and third listen. You will get a lot out of it.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Guilherme
  • 2014-01-16

Making an is not as easy as it seems.

Physics is no easy subject, at least to me. Quantum theory harder still. However the author does a terrific job making theoretical physics accessible for the regular person. On top of that, there is just so much interresting stuff in this book that it is almost impossible to get everything in only one listen, specially while you are driving. I'm planning to listen it at least once again.

It is a book for those people who like me are absolutely fascinated by physics but just don't get what does those weird equations mean. If I had a teacher like that on high school I would probably had studied physics on college.. but you don't find teacher like him on highschools. =( It is the first time I can say I understand what entropy really is. I read many times on wikipedia and other books, and I thought I did understand, now i know I do.

There is still a long way to go before humanity is able to fully grasp the misteries of the big bang. And maybe the future that looks rather bleak may have a way out, to survive the end of the universe... hopefully

11 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2014-12-02

Fascinating topic, but needs editing

Would you consider the audio edition of Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time to be better than the print version?

N/A (I have not read the print version)

What did you like best about this story?

The coverage of the material was well done. It is a fascinating topic to begin with, and the speaker clearly knows his field. He presents many aspects of time, and provides the listener with an intriguing journey. Furthermore, his style of speaking is entertaining and engaging. You won't be bored!

Have you listened to any of Professor Sean Carroll’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to any of his other lectures.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

N/A

Any additional comments?

I had two difficulties with these lectures. The first and least important is that the presenter seems to be speaking, rather than reading, which is fine--except that he makes frequent grammatical mistakes so that his sentences sound sometimes unprofessional. He would have done better to have written everything out clearly, and then followed his notes more closely.The more substantial problem is that the presenter frequently uses the teaching style of giving what he knows to be incorrect information; not telling the listener that it is incorrect; and then sometime later (perhaps many lectures later) correcting his earlier misinformation.For example: When he first introduces entropy (one of the central themes of the lectures), he defines it as a measure of the amount of disorder (paraphrasing here). As a physicist myself, I knew that this popular idea is entirely incorrect, and was appalled that he was actually putting it out there without comment. Sure enough, roughly 10 lectures later he provides an entirely different definition of entropy (the correct one), and tells the reader that what he said before was not correct. I consider this method of teaching to be at best unfortunate, and at worst inexcusably sloppy.I would not say that this problem overrides all of the good in these lectures (hence the 4-star rating), but Professor Carroll should definitely know better.Summary: A fascinating topic, presented by an engaging speaker. Just don't believe everything he says, until you're sure you've reached the end!

39 people found this helpful

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  • CHET YARBROUGH
  • 2014-10-29

THE FOURTH DIMENSION

Time, as a fourth dimension, is a mystery that Professor Sean Carroll partly unravels in a lecture series titled Mysteries of Modern Physics. Carroll helps Physics’ dilettantes, like this essayist, broaden understanding of the mechanics of the universe; albeit at the cost of some confusion and a headache.

Carroll defines words that are commonly understood by Physics’ students and vaguely or not understood by everyone else. He defines time’s arrow, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics. Each definition offers insight to the mystery of time.

Time remains a mystery at the end of Carroll’s lectures. Travel to the future seems a possibility but travel to the past, a logical impossibility. Carroll speculates on the idea of a multiverse from periodic reversals in the arrow of time that creates new universes from new big bangs. There is much more in Carroll’s lectures that tickle the synapses and light up dendrites of a listener’s mind.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 2016-04-01

Smooth like coffee and cream

Dr Sean Carroll has obvious and full command over the subject matter, and I like a guy who's upfront about the limitations of his field and pet projects. Awesome course.

One small hint for listeners, as I struggled with this until the final chapter... when he says the process of mixing coffee and cream is literally irreversible, he's not talking about the ability to unmix the particles, which IS physically possible. Rather, he means the actual macroscopic event of you mixing coffee cannot be undone in reverse. With that, enjoy your coffee and cream. And enjoy the course!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Marc
  • 2015-03-22

Mixing Milk and Coffee - Entropy At its Best!

If you could sum up Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time in three words, what would they be?

Worth the ... TIME!

(1, 2 ... 3 - yes, looks about right)
(Audible, could you please come up with even more stupid questions?)

What was one of the most memorable moments of Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time?

Let me ignore Audible's blabla for a sec and try to say it with my own words:

Sean Carroll really manages to take even the layman (I am from the philosophical side of science) on a tour through classic physics up to more or less the most modern theories about what's "the kernel of the brute". Pace of the lectures, examples and even the honest outlooks on what "we don't know" are one great inspiration for the mind.
Mr. Carroll describes several ideas about how our universe may have come into existence, how the "Arrow of Time" (time always going into one direction and not being reversible) works and why it is there. He does not pretend to have an answer, but gives a nice kaleidoscope of working (and not so working) theories. On sidelines he gives some basics about Quantum physics, the differences to classic physics and ... lots of stirring up milk in coffee to test entropy.

Have you listened to any of Professor Sean Carroll’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

So far I haven't listened to any other of Mr. Carroll's "performances" (Audible, PLEASE rethink the phrasing of your questions, this typing-in of comments is making me feel like a complete idiot).
But the good feeling I have after listening through this course, the believe that I "got it", or at least some of it, makes me think: "Gimme more, Mr. Carroll!"

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

What really "moved" me is the fact that - although I don't claim to have understood everything - especially not why anyone would actually pour milk in his coffee! - it feels like I have some "vocabulary", to say the least, from the world of Quantum Physics. That's surely not the worst one can say about listening to an audio book. What's next? Rocket Science? Understanding Women?

6 people found this helpful

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  • David RVA
  • 2019-12-06

Possibly the best Physics audio book I own

I really cannot say enough positive things about this book. The book covers Physics in a general scope (Classical Physics) and then it goes into "Modern Physics" in greater detail. I relearned things with greater clarity which helped be grasp Modern Physics theories better than ever before. My only complaint about this audio book is that it was only 12 hours in length. I was left hungry for more. FEED ME MORE PHYSICS!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 2016-11-23

worth your while

In this course you will explore the physics of time, how they relate to entropy and the Big Bang, and how understanding time leads us to try to understand the nature of the laws of physics. I have read several of the Great Courses classes now, particularly on physics. Many of them repeat essentials about Special and General Relativity, the nature of quantum mechanics, dark matter, dark energy, and the forces of nature. With that in mind, they tend to cover much of the same ground. This has been a completely different course. Here we spend quite a bit of time on entropy, the big bang, and how theories on the beginning of time also has consequences for multi-verse theories.

The instructor spends a little too much time on the introduction and calendars and perhaps labors on entropy for a bit too long. But with that said, he is an engaging teacher, the subject really evolves over time, and goes places I did not expect. Really worth the time you invest in it. Hang on until the second half especially, where it gets really interesting.

1 person found this helpful