2021 discount Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, wholesale and Our Search for Meaning outlet online sale in an Evolving Universe outlet online sale

2021 discount Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, wholesale and Our Search for Meaning outlet online sale in an Evolving Universe outlet online sale

2021 discount Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, wholesale and Our Search for Meaning outlet online sale in an Evolving Universe outlet online sale

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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A captivating exploration of deep time and humanity''s search for purpose from the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe

"Few humans share Greene’s mastery of both the latest cosmological science and English prose." — The New York Times

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene''s breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to find meaning in the face of this vast expanse. Greene takes us on a journey from the big bang to the end of time, exploring how lasting structures formed, how life and mind emerged, and how we grapple with our existence through narrative, myth, religion, creative expression, science, the quest for truth, and a deep longing for the eternal. From particles to planets, consciousness to creativity, matter to meaning—Brian Greene allows us all to grasp and appreciate our fleeting but utterly exquisite moment in the cosmos.

Amazon.com Review


Editors'' pick: It takes a storyteller to explain the sciences, and few are as gifted as Brian Greene." —Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor

Review

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

“A splendid and invigorating read . . . [Greene] fans out the fabric of our present understanding, deftly untangling then interweaving the science of everything from black holes to quanta to DNA, tracing how matter made mind made imagination, probing the pull of eternity and storytelling and the sublime.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Until the End of Time is encyclopedic in its ambition and its erudition, often heartbreaking . . . A love letter to the ephemeral cosmic moment when everything is possible.”
—Dennis Overbye, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Ambitious and utterly readable . . . [Greene] weaves personal stories, scientific ideas, concepts and facts into a delightful tapestry . . . What is remarkable about Mr. Greene’s book is how he has delved into deep questions that not only have no simple answers but may never be settled at all.”
—Priyamvada Natarajan , The Wall Street Journal

"[Greene] says it all with such ebullience, such ingenuous enthusiasm, that if he told you the whole cold, amoral universe was ending tomorrow you''d roll with it the way he would—as just one more dramatic chapter in an extraordinary tale in which we all have a precious if fleeting role." Time

"A cracking read. . . . The origins of matter, life and consciousness, and their grisly fate, are laid out here with elegant clarity. If you want to know how everything got here and where it''s going, read this book." The Sunday Times (London)

"Marvelous. . . . [Greene''s] prose style is one that any novelist would envy. . . . [He] traces a tremendous arc through pretty well everything: a thrilling venture, at once frightening and consolatory." The Irish Times

"Greene writes beautifully." The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

“There’s tremendous joy in witnessing a brilliant and curious mind wrestle with such profound issues. [Greene] takes readers on a remarkable journey.”
—John Keogh, Booklist

“Packed with ideas . . . There is an echo of philosopher Henry David Thoreau in Greene’s account of lying out at night, enraptured by the aurora borealis. And essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson’s declaration that the “sublime laws play indifferently through atoms and galaxies” could almost be this book’s epigraph. Such qualities lift this work above many accounts of the cosmic story.”
—Philip Ball, Nature

“[Greene] weaves a rich tapestry of theories and perspectives as he navigates space and time . . . Of course, Until the End of Time can’t provide all the answers. But you would be hard-pressed to find another book that seeks to do so with the same clarity and meaning.”
Gege Li, New Scientist

"Brian Greene is a master at elucidating the laws of physics." Journal Inquirer (Connecticut)

"As well as offering lucid, detailed accouns of the science behind the big bang, the development ofthe cosmos, the emergence of life and human conscoiusness, and the inevitable exeinction of the cosmos, Greene''s treatise is motivated by a personal search for equanimity." The Guardian

"Mind-bending" —GeekWire

"Sentence by sentence, Greene is such a wonderful teacher. . . . When the current hour gets overhwleming . . . it''s a joy to sweep back and forth through the eons. You remember how infinitesimal this moment actually is, and that every second we get to be alive on this planet is an utter gift." —Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See

"Greene is an elegant, eloquent writer . . . beautifully written. . . . An energizing, fascinating exploration of origins and endings." The Providence Journal

“Accessible and illuminating . . . Curious readers . . . will be richly rewarded by [Greene''s] fascinating exploration.” 
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Engaging . . . An insightful history of everything that simplifies its complex subject as much as possible but no further.” 
Kirkus

About the Author

BRIAN GREENE is a professor of physics and mathematics and director of Columbia University''s Center for Theoretical Physics and is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory. He is the author of The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, which have collectively spent sixty-five weeks on The New York Times best-seller list and sold more than two million copies worldwide, and he has hosted two Peabody and Emmy Award winning NOVA miniseries based on his books. With producer Tracy Day, Greene cofounded the World Science Festival. He lives in New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

The Lure of Eternity

Beginnings, Endings, and Beyond

In the fullness of time all that lives will die. For more than three billion years, as species simple and complex found their place in earth’s hierarchy, the scythe of death has cast a persistent shadow over the flowering of life. Diversity spread as life crawled from the oceans, strode on land, and took flight in the skies. But wait long enough and the ledger of birth and death, with entries more numerous than stars in the galaxy, will balance with dispassionate precision. The unfolding of any given life is beyond prediction. The final fate of any given life is a foregone conclusion.

And yet this looming end, as inevitable as the setting sun, is something only we humans seem to notice. Long before our arrival, the thunderous clap of storm clouds, the raging might of volcanoes, the tremulous shudders of a quaking earth surely sent scurrying everything with the power to scurry. But such flights are an instinctual reaction to a present danger. Most life lives in the moment, with fear born of immediate perception. It is only you and I and the rest of our lot that can reflect on the distant past, imagine the future, and grasp the darkness that awaits.

It’s terrifying. Not the kind of terror that makes us flinch or run for cover. Rather, it’s a foreboding that quietly lives within us, one we learn to tamp down, to accept, to make light of. But underneath the obscuring layers is the ever-­present, unsettling fact of what lies in store, knowledge that William James described as the “worm at the core of all our usual springs of delight.”1 To work and play, to yearn and strive, to long and love, all of it stitching us ever more tightly into the tapestry of the lives we share, and for it all then to be gone—­well, to paraphrase Steven Wright, it’s enough to scare you half to death. Twice.

Of course, most of us, in the service of sanity, don’t fixate on the end. We go about the world focused on worldly concerns. We accept the inevitable and direct our energies to other things. Yet the recognition that our time is finite is always with us, helping to shape the choices we make, the challenges we accept, the paths we follow. As cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker maintained, we are under a constant existential tension, pulled toward the sky by a consciousness that can soar to the heights of da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Einstein but tethered to earth by a physical form that will decay to dust. “Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.”2 According to Becker, we are impelled by such awareness to deny death the capacity to erase us. Some soothe the existential yearning through commitment to family, a team, a movement, a religion, a nation—­constructs that will outlast the individual’s allotted time on earth. Others leave behind creative expressions, artifacts that extend the duration of their presence symbolically. “We fly to Beauty,” said Emerson, “as an asylum from the terrors of finite nature.”3 Others still seek to vanquish death by winning or conquering, as if stature, power, and wealth command an immunity unavailable to the common mortal.

Across the millennia, one consequence has been a widespread fascination with all things, real or imagined, that touch on the timeless. From prophesies of an afterlife, to teachings of reincarnation, to entreaties of the windswept mandala, we have developed strategies to contend with knowledge of our impermanence and, often with hope, sometimes with resignation, to gesture toward eternity. What’s new in our age is the remarkable power of science to tell a lucid story not only of the past, back to the big bang, but also of the future. Eternity itself may forever lie beyond the reach of our equations, but our analyses have already revealed that the universe we have come to know is transitory. From planets to stars, solar systems to galaxies, black holes to swirling nebulae, nothing is everlasting. Indeed, as far as we can tell, not only is each individual life finite, but so too is life itself. Planet earth, which Carl Sagan described as a “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam,” is an evanescent bloom in an exquisite cosmos that will ultimately be barren. Motes of dust, nearby or distant, dance on sunbeams for merely a moment.

Still, here on earth we have punctuated our moment with astonishing feats of insight, creativity, and ingenuity as each generation has built on the achievements of those who have gone before, seeking clarity on how it all came to be, pursuing coherence in where it is all going, and longing for an answer to why it all matters.

Such is the story of this book.

Stories of Nearly Everything

We are a species that delights in story. We look out on reality, we grasp patterns, and we join them into narratives that can captivate, inform, startle, amuse, and thrill. The plural—­narratives—­is utterly essential. In the library of human reflection, there is no single, unified volume that conveys ultimate understanding. Instead, we have written many nested stories that probe different domains of human inquiry and experience: stories, that is, that parse the patterns of reality using different grammars and vocabularies. Protons, neutrons, electrons, and nature’s other particles are essential for telling the reductionist story, analyzing the stuff of reality, from planets to Picasso, in terms of their microphysical constituents. Metabolism, replication, mutation, and adaptation are essential for telling the story of life’s emergence and development, analyzing the biochemical workings of remarkable molecules and the cells they govern. Neurons, information, thought, and awareness are essential for the story of mind—­and with that the narratives proliferate: myth to religion, literature to philosophy, art to music, telling of humankind’s struggle for survival, will to understand, urge for expression, and search for meaning.

These are all ongoing stories, developed by thinkers hailing from a great range of distinct disciplines. Understandably so. A saga that ranges from quarks to consciousness is a hefty chronicle. Still, the different stories are interlaced. Don Quixote speaks to humankind’s yearning for the heroic, told through the fragile Alonso Quijano, a character created in the imagination of Miguel de Cervantes, a living, breathing, thinking, sensing, feeling collection of bone, tissue, and cells that, during his lifetime, supported organic processes of energy transformation and waste excretion, which themselves relied on atomic and molecular movements honed by billions of years of evolution on a planet forged from the detritus of supernova explosions scattered throughout a realm of space emerging from the big bang. Yet to read Don Quixote’s travails is to gain an understanding of human nature that would remain opaque if embedded in a description of the movements of the knight-­errant’s molecules and atoms or conveyed through an elaboration of the neuronal processes crackling in Cervantes’s mind while writing the novel. Connected though they surely are, different stories, told with different languages and focused on different levels of reality, provide vastly different insights.

Perhaps one day we will be able to transit seamlessly between these stories, connecting all products of the human mind, real and fictive, scientific and imaginative. Perhaps we will one day invoke a unified theory of particulate ingredients to explain the overwhelming vision of a Rodin and the myriad responses The Burghers of Calais elicits from those who experience it. Maybe we will fully grasp how the seemingly mundane, a glint of light reflecting from a spinning dinner plate, can churn through the powerful mind of a Richard Feynman and compel him to rewrite the fundamental laws of physics. More ambitious still, perhaps one day we will understand the workings of mind and matter so completely that all will be laid bare, from black holes to Beethoven, from quantum weirdness to Walt Whitman. But even without having anything remotely near that capacity, there is much to be gained by immersion in these stories—­scientific, creative, imaginative—­appreciating when and how they emerged from earlier ones playing out on the cosmic timeline and tracing the developments, both controversial and conclusive, that elevated each to their place of explanatory prominence.4

Clear across the collection of stories, we will find two forces sharing the role of leading character. In chapter 2 we will meet the first: entropy. Although familiar to many through its association with disorder and the often-­quoted declaration that disorder is always on the rise, entropy has subtle qualities that allow physical systems to develop in a rich variety of ways, sometimes even appearing to swim against the entropic stream. We will see important examples of this in chapter 3, as particles in the aftermath of the big bang seemingly flout the drive to disorder as they evolve into organized structures like stars, galaxies, and planets—­and ultimately, into configurations of matter that surge with the current of life. Asking how that current switched on takes us to the second of our pervasive influences: evolution.

Although it is the prime mover behind the gradual transformations experienced by living systems, evolution by natural selection kicks in well before the first forms of life start competing. In chapter 4, we will encounter molecules battling molecules, struggles for survival waged in an arena of inanimate matter. Round upon round of molecular Darwinism, as such chemical combat is called, is what likely produced a series of ever more robust configurations ultimately yielding the first molecular collections we would recognize as life. The details are the stuff of cutting-­edge research, but with the last couple of decades of stupendous progress, the consensus is that we are heading down the right track. Indeed, it may be that the dual forces of entropy and evolution are well-­matched partners in the trek toward the emergence of life. While that might sound like an odd coupling—­entropy’s public rap veers close to chaos, seemingly the antithesis of evolution or of life—­recent mathematical analyses of entropy suggest that life, or at least lifelike qualities, might well be the expected product of a long-­lived source of energy, like the sun, relentlessly raining down heat and light on molecular ingredients that are competing for the limited resources available on a planet like earth.

Tentative though some of these ideas currently are, what’s certain is that a billion or so years after the earth formed it was teeming with life developing under evolutionary pressure, and so the next phase of developments is standard Darwinian fare. Chance events, like being hit by a cosmic ray or suffering a molecular mishap during the replication of DNA, result in random mutations, some with minimal impact on the organism’s health or welfare but others making it more or less fit in the competition for survival. Those mutations that enhance fitness are more likely to be passed on to descendants because the very meaning of “more fit” is that the trait’s carrier is more likely to survive to reproductive maturity and produce fit offspring. From generation to generation, qualities that enhanced fitness thus spread widely.

Billions of years later, as this long process continued to unfold, a particular suite of mutations provided some forms of life with an enhanced capacity for cognition. Some life not only became aware, but became aware of being aware. That is, some life acquired conscious self-­awareness. Such self-­reflective beings have naturally wondered what consciousness is and how it arose: How can a swirl of mindless matter think and feel? Various researchers, as we will discuss in chapter 5, anticipate a mechanistic explanation. They argue that we need to understand the brain—­its components, its functions, its connections—­with far greater fidelity than we now do, but once we have that knowledge, an explanation of consciousness will follow. Others anticipate that we are up against a far greater challenge, arguing that consciousness is the most difficult conundrum we have ever encountered, one that will require radically new perspectives regarding not just mind but also the very nature of reality.

Opinions converge when assessing the impact our cognitive sophistication has had on our behavioral repertoire. Across tens of thousands of generations during the Pleistocene, our forebears joined together in groups that subsisted through hunting and gathering. In time, an emerging mental dexterity provided them with refined capacities to plan and organize and communicate and teach and evaluate and judge and problem-solve. Leveraging these enhanced abilities of the individual, groups exerted increasingly influential communal forces. Which takes us to the next collection of explanatory episodes, those focused on developments that made us. In chapter 6 we examine our acquisition of language and subsequent obsession with the telling of stories; chapter 7 probes a particular genre of stories, those that foreshadow and transition into religious traditions; and in chapter 8 we explore the long-­standing and widespread pursuit of creative expression.

In seeking the origin of these developments, both common and sacred, researchers have invoked a wide range of explanations. For us, an essential guiding light will continue to be Darwinian evolution, applied now to human behavior. The brain, after all, is but another biological structure evolving via selection pressures, and it is the brain that informs what we do and how we respond. Over the past few decades, cognitive scientists and evolutionary psychologists have developed this perspective, establishing that much as our biology has been shaped by the forces of Darwinian selection, so too has our behavior. And thus in our trek across human culture we will often ask whether this or that behavior may have enhanced the prospects for survival and reproduction among those who long ago practiced it, promoting its wide propagation throughout generations of descendants. However, unlike the opposable thumb or upright gait—­inherited physiological features tightly linked to specific adaptive behaviors—­many of the brain’s inherited characteristics mold predilections rather than definitive actions. We are influenced by these predispositions but human activity emerges from a comingling of behavioral tendencies with our complex, deliberative, self-­reflective minds.

And so a second guiding light, distinct but no less important, will be trained on the inner life that comes hand in hand with our refined cognitive capacities. Following a trail marked by many thinkers, we will come to a revealing vista: with human cognition we surely harnessed a powerful force, one that in time elevated us to the dominant species worldwide. But the very mental faculties that allow us to shape and mold and innovate are the very ones that dispel the myopia that would otherwise keep us narrowly focused on the present. The ability to manipulate the environment thoughtfully provides the capacity to shift our vantage point, to hover above the timeline and contemplate what was and imagine what will be. However much we’d prefer it otherwise, to achieve “I think, therefore I am” is to run headlong into the rejoinder “I am, therefore I will die.”

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

M. Max
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Essential Read
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2020
It is not typical for me to purchase the latest science book. But the New York Times review (“…a love letter to the ephemeral cosmic moment when everything is possible…”) caught my attention. Now, having been unable to put the book down, I can say it is thoroughly thrilling... See more
It is not typical for me to purchase the latest science book. But the New York Times review (“…a love letter to the ephemeral cosmic moment when everything is possible…”) caught my attention. Now, having been unable to put the book down, I can say it is thoroughly thrilling and not to be missed. There is a great deal of science covered, but I would not even categorize this as a science book. Greene has come forward with a deeply felt (and deeply moving) meditation on the human condition and has placed this meditation within the ultimate cosmic setting—the development of the universe starting at the big bang and reaching all the way out to timescales of the extremely far future. Developing two overarching themes in which evolution tends to create order while entropy tends to degrade it, the book explores the origin of life, the mysteries of consciousness, the puzzles of free will, the nature of religious experience, the prevalence of creative expression, and inevitable disintegration of everything. Heavy stuff for sure, but Greene’s lyrical writing lightens the load, and his interjection of personal moments adds a human quality that transforms the journey into personal reflection that, at one and the same moment, has a universal appeal. The concepts are not watered down so various sections require focused attention, but Greene holds your hand the whole way, acting as a generous guide to some of the most heady of ideas. I will be thinking about these ideas for a long time to come.
272 people found this helpful
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DisneyDenizenTop Contributor: Harry Potter
4.0 out of 5 stars
NOT FOR A POPULAR AUDIENCE
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2020
WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: "The purpose of this book is to provide … clarity. We will journey across time, from our most refined understanding of the beginning to the closest science can take us to the very end. We will explore how life and mind emerge from the initial chaos,... See more
WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: "The purpose of this book is to provide … clarity. We will journey across time, from our most refined understanding of the beginning to the closest science can take us to the very end. We will explore how life and mind emerge from the initial chaos, and we will dwell on what a collection of curious, passionate, anxious, self-reflective, inventive, and skeptical minds do, especially when they notice their own mortality. We will examine the rise of religion, the urge of creative expression, the ascent of science, the quest for truth, and the longing for the timeless. The deep-seated affinity for something permanent … will then propel our continued march toward the distant future, allowing us to assess the prospects for everything we hold dear, everything constituting reality as we know it, from planets ands stars, galaxies and black holes, to life and mind. Across it all, the human spirit of discover will shine through.”

I was excited to read this book. I liked its subtitle and description; they spoke to me. But the book didn’t. So much science! I found it largely inaccessible. It was not only a challenging read, it was slightly too challenging. I am not a science nerd, and explanations of scientific concepts frequently went sailing right over my head. Concepts seemed just beyond my understanding, just out of reach. As you might guess, eventually I gave up; I just wasn’t getting anything out of it.

Well written. Articulate. Erudite. Complex. Overwhelming.

BOTTOM LINE: While the subject matter is broadly appealing, in reality this book is best read by those with a real affinity for science.
199 people found this helpful
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Aran Joseph CanesTop Contributor: Philosophy
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Let me Tell you a Story
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2020
It can’t be said that Brian Greene doesn’t aim high in Until the End of Time. In some three hundred pages he tries to explain the Big Bang, cosmic evolution, stellar formation, the beginnings of life, the beginnings of consciousness, the role of art and religion in... See more
It can’t be said that Brian Greene doesn’t aim high in Until the End of Time. In some three hundred pages he tries to explain the Big Bang, cosmic evolution, stellar formation, the beginnings of life, the beginnings of consciousness, the role of art and religion in civilization and the ultimate fate of the universe. Quite a story!

As an explainer of complex scientific theories, particularly physics, Greene is on a par with popularizing scientists like Richard Dawkins or Stephen Hawking. Of course, if you found a Brief History of Time incomprehensible then you are likely to find large parts of Until the End of Time similarly difficult. I had a bit of an edge as my undergraduate major was in physics.

Greene is also honest that many of the phenomena he tries to fashion as chapters in his story remain scientific enigma. He does a good job of reviewing competing theories of life’s origin, the evolutionary grounding of the arts, etc.

What I found hard to justify is the amount of space Greene devotes to speculations about the distant future of the universe. He seems to make the error in reasoning that since we’ve discovered laws of physics that seem to apply to objects billions of years old we can similarly apply these to what the universe will be like in billions of years.

The lacuna in this argument is that modern physics is only a century old. Most of the advances in cosmology are even more recent. Why should we think that a hundred year old discipline can make accurate predictions across uncountable eons in the future?

Astronomers like to point out that human civilization would be only a few seconds long if the history of the universe were condensed to a year. It seems rather myopic to not notice that modern physics is only tenths of a second long and that it will probably evolve in unfathomable ways in the next thousand years, let alone the next billion.

Because Greene spends so much of this book on this topic, even concluding the book with a call to create our own meanings because the universe will finally end in entropic coldness, this seems like a major flaw.

However, much of the book does communicate difficult scientific concepts to a lay audience in a way I could understand. I’m glad I read the book and recommend it to others. I merely think a little humility about the possible developments in a century old human enterprise would’ve made much of the book a little more realistic and less like the outpourings of a wild imagination.
157 people found this helpful
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Dave
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A brilliant scientist/writer''s misdirected attempt at larger questions
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2020
Before anything, please allow me to state two disclaimers. First, I have been - and, more importantly - still remain a HUGE fan of Brian Greene. No one else who is still writing today has done more to make the cutting edge of theoretical physics accessible to... See more
Before anything, please allow me to state two disclaimers. First, I have been - and, more importantly - still remain a HUGE fan of Brian Greene. No one else who is still writing today has done more to make the cutting edge of theoretical physics accessible to non-specialists. Second, I did not finish reading this book. There came a point where I simply could not push myself though the book''s dilettantish engagement with topics that traditionally fall into the humanities and/or social sciences. As always, Dr. Greene''s explanations about pure science are top-notch. The other parts, however, belie the author''s lack of formal training in humanities and social sciences. Perhaps a collaborative project with an expert in those fields might have panned out better. In any event, I eagerly await Dr. Greene''s next book, whatever its topic might be.
87 people found this helpful
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Damon Morley
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A beautifully written journey with a brilliant guide
Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2020
I’ve read Brian Greene’s previous books and enjoyed them all. Part of the fun is struggling through concepts that feel alien to the human mind; even when the ideas don’t feel intuitive, attempting to wrap your mind around it opens up new lines of thinking. This new book by... See more
I’ve read Brian Greene’s previous books and enjoyed them all. Part of the fun is struggling through concepts that feel alien to the human mind; even when the ideas don’t feel intuitive, attempting to wrap your mind around it opens up new lines of thinking. This new book by Mr. Greene is of a different sort. It takes a step back from the minutiae of quantum mechanics and casts a much longer arc—indeed, about as long as human comprehension allows. If you come at this journey with an open mind you will be rewarded with some of the finest prose from one of the world’s most gifted thinkers. If, however, you are a Facebook PhD, all but certain you already understand the mystery of life, the universe and everything, you may do better to choose a book that does not seek to challenge your preconceived beliefs.
40 people found this helpful
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Randall Walker
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Too wordy, incomplete premise, stick with the science and leave philosophy out of it.
Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2020
I though this would be a technical explication of how time might get made. Instead, it goes on and on about how humans are afraid to die, and want to discover permanent truths, etc., etc., etc. Based on his prior explications of string theory and quantum mechanics, I... See more
I though this would be a technical explication of how time might get made. Instead, it goes on and on about how humans are afraid to die, and want to discover permanent truths, etc., etc., etc.
Based on his prior explications of string theory and quantum mechanics, I thought we’d be getting something technical. What creates the elapsing property of time? How do space and energy mutate across moments? I don’t need to be told that even time will someday end, so we should be grateful for our experience of existence. I want to know how time gets made, what makes it click, literally. Science can be a way of understanding how the universe is put together. But I don’t need some know-it-all jumping to the conclusion that because he thinks time itself might collapse in a few billion years, we should just chill in the moment. That is using half-baked science to short-circuit inquiry and legitimize atheism. Starting instead with the premise that the universe got put together in a particular way, we can enjoy a very long journey of discovery into how complex reality really is— which does not have to end in a pre-ordained conclusion that there is no God. A very different premise, a very different journey, and rich in complexity and wonder. Stick to the details of the science. Let the reader draw their own conclusions on religious matters.
25 people found this helpful
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Alan Dale DanielTop Contributor: Drawing
1.0 out of 5 stars
Bad Philosophy Based On Science
Reviewed in the United States on March 15, 2020
I bought this book because The Elegant Universe was a fabulous book. Unfortunately, I also bought this book. Dr. Greene’s analysis of our universe rests on two pillars, entropy and evolution. From these concepts he constructs a deterministic universe devoid of... See more
I bought this book because The Elegant Universe was a fabulous book. Unfortunately, I also bought this book.
Dr. Greene’s analysis of our universe rests on two pillars, entropy and evolution. From these concepts he constructs a deterministic universe devoid of anything beyond the annihilation of men and matter.
Dr. Greene is dangerously wrong in his philosophy; thus, one star. The rest of this review will tell you why, even though well reasoned, his philosophy will destroy civilizations.

Science reaches into the past and future with high level mathematics that few understand and even fewer can analyze. Science is the shaman of the modern world. They cannot offer proof that I can understand. Why believe them? The author’s analysis of the universe leads to a totally meaningless existence, without free will, and denies any reason to endure pain, suffering, loss or anything else. Is life just a “Bag of particles governed by the laws of physics?” Is everything determined by entropy and evolution?

Under Dr. Greene’s reasoning, time becomes god. With enough time anything can be created. Combinations of chemicals or events, no matter how statistically improbable, can occur, more than once if necessary, with the addition of time. Life can be created from inanimate matter, in spite of Pasteur’s experiments, just add time.
Dr. Greene assumes science knows ALL the basic forces at the Big Bang and can mathematically determine what happened a tiny moment after the Bang. But these are untestable assumptions, except through complex mathematics.

Dr. Greene has been able to establish a predetermined universe by limiting the variables. By predetermined he means everything, including your breakfast. However, even one minutely different variable will throw him off course. He acknowledges this problem, but believes physics has correctly calculated everything. We don’t know if there are other variables, perhaps added or subtracted by the presence of dark energy or dark matter. The author makes amazingly confident predictions, given we discovered these different kinds of matter and energy not so long ago.

The author’s Big Bang discussion has one wondering if physics knows so much. The nuclear fuel that set off the expansion was what? We don’t know. How about the “spark” that set off this miraculous chain of events? We don’t know. Nothing is known about the pre-Big Bang universe. The laws of physics did not exist because nothing existed. Dr. Greene imagines a swirling mass of something that swirled to a near perfect point of entropy and then bam! A universe. But Dr. Greene has assumed time existed. Time did not exist, so there could not have been a swirling whatever because swirling assumes time.

The book tells us we can predict at the quantum level with great precision; however, it also tells us the foundational facts of what is going on at the quantum level are unknown. We can accurately predict, but we don’t know what is really going on. The Mayans were in the same predicament. The Mayans could predict the movements of the stars in the heavens with amazing reliability, yet, their theories of what was going on up there were totally wrong. Are we doing the same thing?

Untestable assumptions are at the heart of evolution. The theory of evolution is based on a film that cannot be ran backward and no testable assumption is on the table when evolution is discussed. Something evolves when an organism is favored environmentally over others, thus survives when others fail, and has offspring. Then the cycle is repeated, and, for some reason, evolution results in increased complexity rather than just a different animal or a less complex animal. Increased complexity is more organization, the opposite of entropy.

The unstated assumption behind evolution is a stable environment. Repeated dramatic environmental changes destroy complex animals and evolution retreats to simpler organisms. Environmental changes destroy adaptability. Evolutionist have simply added time PLUS environmental uniformity to achieve wonderous results including the creation of life from non-life. Uniformitarianism is key. This geologic idea states, “As things are now, they have always been.” Very nice for evolution, but not true. Earth’s history is replete with disasters having catastrophic effects on life. Evolution could not take place on our earth.

Dr. Greene pushes Molecular Darwinism, meaning non-living matter – molecules- can evolve. The better fit molecules go on while the unfit units sort of go away. The fit molecules multiply and take over the action in a given environment then create conditions suitable for life. However, where is this warm puddle of water managing to stay undisturbed for millions of years? If it’s the ocean, it will take unattainable numbers of “evolved” molecules to create suitable concentrations for other molecules to combine into something better. Time doesn’t solve anything if the environment changes on a comparatively short time scale.

How unusual is a self-replicating arrangement of amino acids and proteins that can zip and unzip themselves to reproduce? How likely is a match up with a similar set of molecules that help it make sure the chemical combinations are correct, DNA and RNA style? How hard would it be for the exact chemicals necessary for a cell, which are thousands more than RNA and DNA, to come together at the moment an outer membrane is being formed, and then mix together and cooperate in such a way as to create the first living cell? Dr. Greene says no problem and a laboratory will do this soon. No, they will not IMO.

How many events of unimaginable chance have to occur before we say “guided?” How close to impossible do the forces underlying the universe have to be before the mathematics say “statistically impossible”. Dr. Greene adds time and says anything is possible.

Is thought directed by the original forces forming the universe? The author says yes, since the brain is only matter controlled by physics. Have we created thoughts from matter? No. Still, science says yes, it can.

Without God the universe and life have no meaning, and Dr. Greene expelled God. There is no special mathematical equation for you, dear reader.

Dr. Greene attempts to hide this blunt fact with high sounding words about meaning arising from random interactions of matter. His attempts at deflecting the blow through interesting stories are not convincing. His philosophy, and this book is about philosophy, tosses the human story into a void. He destroys the human story by erasing the reason for suffering, pain, and death. His philosophy of predestination through physics, cemented at the start of the universe, leads to Adolf Hitler and worse, because murder, beatings, torture, and all the rest, do not matter. In a universe devoid of meaning nothing is bad or good. It just is. If actions are predestined then punishment isn’t justified on any grounds. If you decide to return yourself to atoms through suicide it is of no concern. Dr. Greene has placed a philosophy before us devoid of humanity and stripped of concern for life. Nothingness created us and to nothingness we will return. Death of the elements, final entropy to Dr. Greene, erases all.

Finally, I think Dr. Greene was paid by the page. The book is filled with useless fluff better omitted. The book should be half its current length, 326 pages without notes.
AD2
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hywel_da
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pretentious, pedantic, patronizing, pseudo-philosophical
Reviewed in the United States on February 29, 2020
I expected a scientifically reasoned explanation of the first questions from a disciplined physicist,
not UNBELIEVABLY WORD PRETENTIOUS FILLER.
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Alex
4.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
A humanist meditation on how human thought fits in to the universe
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 2, 2020
This is an introspective and inspirational humanist story of how consciousness arose, the meaning it gives us, and its prospects for continued existence in the universe. It''s a surprisingly easy read despite its length, thanks to Greene''s conversational tone, focus on a few...See more
This is an introspective and inspirational humanist story of how consciousness arose, the meaning it gives us, and its prospects for continued existence in the universe. It''s a surprisingly easy read despite its length, thanks to Greene''s conversational tone, focus on a few important scientific concepts throughout and frequent reference to episodes from his life and the great works of human culture, from Bach to the Hitchhiker''s Guide. The opening third or so of the book is well-written pop-sci exploring the familiar topics of how the universe, solar system, Earth and complex life came in to existence. The "entropic two-step", as Greene puts it, is the driving force here, coupled to evolution, and after careful and lucid introductions these two themes recur and are developed throughout the rest of the book. Although I knew the broad strokes from umpteen other popular accounts, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of important recent developments and discoveries cited here, such as zircon time capsules implying a wet early Earth. The book then gets to grips with the nature of consciousness and free will, how human language and culture arose, and how we face the inevitability of our own demise. That''s a lot, but Greene doesn''t overplay his hand: he brings up competing theories even-handedly with the appropriate caveats, looks at how they relate to our finite lifespans, and explains his humanist perspective on it all. It''s heady and thought-provoking, and if the idea of a deterministic universe fills you with existential ennui some of it may actually be quite comforting. The end-notes for this part of the book are incidentally well worth a read, full of strict epistemology and the philosophy of science. The final section of the book melds the two tones, taking a sprint up in to the far future, considering whether the universe can support thought indefinitely, and discussing the implications for the human outlook if it can''t. There are a lot of fun surprises here, and even Greene''s takes on topics I already understood were thoroughly engaging. (The existential and intellectual befuddlement that drips off the page as he gets to Boltzmann brains is really relatable.) The news isn''t necessarily great for those seeking any sort of immortality, but as Greene discusses in the final chapter, there is an inherent value in our internal lives that goes beyond their mark on the cosmos. Cosmology and physics intrigue us because of their deep implications for our origins, nature, and fate. Weaving together the facts and the fascination, "Until the End of Time" offers us a chance to reflect deeply on how we respond to the universe as we discover ever more about it.
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Starmaker2001
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thoughtful but curiously unsatisfying
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2020
As someone with a background in astrophysics, I had hoped for something deep and thoughtful. Perhaps my familiarity with the topics has bred contempt, but I found this book at times to be poignant and deep and at other times tedious and slightly vacuous. There is FAR too...See more
As someone with a background in astrophysics, I had hoped for something deep and thoughtful. Perhaps my familiarity with the topics has bred contempt, but I found this book at times to be poignant and deep and at other times tedious and slightly vacuous. There is FAR too much quoting other thinkers, to the extent that it seems that the author, a prodigious intellect in his own right, is attempting to impress us with the breadth of his knowledge. Unfortunately it comes across as the exact opposite - often superficial. And some of the thinking of modern physics I’m afraid is just nonsense masquerading as deep intellectual thought - read the sections on “Boltzmann Brains” and “Infinite multiverses in infinite space”. Any cursory mathematical analysis would probably disintegrate some of this and I wish the author would be more discriminatory or critical at times. Normally I devour books such as this in a matter of hours but after an initial burst of enthusiasm found this difficult to read and had to skim finish. Took me months as I struggled to generate the enthusiasm to continue, even in lock-down.
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David
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Far too chummy, and where''s he going, anyway?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2020
I have no idea whether Greene is the great acclaimed scientist that''s claimed. I might have stayed with this book longer if I hadn''t got very irritated by his style. Listen to this: "But how does this relate to Russell''s vision of the future, his prognostication of the...See more
I have no idea whether Greene is the great acclaimed scientist that''s claimed. I might have stayed with this book longer if I hadn''t got very irritated by his style. Listen to this: "But how does this relate to Russell''s vision of the future, his prognostication of the universe crawling toward death? Good question. Hang tight. We''re getting there. But we still have a couple of steps to go. " That''s from page 22 I don''t want someone having a chat with me; I want masterful scientific understanding related and made clear. I nearly gave up after Chapter 1, but I then realised that Chapter 1 is meant as an introduction. Maybe this is a book for those who haven''t done school physics. Someone obviously likes it, because it''s been reviewed with 5* by some. I gave up after Chapter 2, but even then, I found myself skipping the cotton wool.
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Ryuto
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Difficult for me to read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 10, 2020
I’ve heard the author speak so eloquently about many subjects which is why I bought this book, but, for some reason, I find his writing style really difficult to follow (and I have a PhD in Neuroscience!). I even bought the audiobook in the hope his delivery would make it...See more
I’ve heard the author speak so eloquently about many subjects which is why I bought this book, but, for some reason, I find his writing style really difficult to follow (and I have a PhD in Neuroscience!). I even bought the audiobook in the hope his delivery would make it easier to follow, but even that was too dense for me to follow. Perhaps I need to be in the right mood for this and that mood hasn’t enveloped me for some time. This is on my shelf and one day, I’ll try it again!
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not Very Good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2020
Brian may be a competent physicist but he is a poor author, using 50 words when one would do. I abandoned the book less than half way through. He has the ability to make what should be an interesting subject extremely dull. I had forgotten that I had read one of his earlier...See more
Brian may be a competent physicist but he is a poor author, using 50 words when one would do. I abandoned the book less than half way through. He has the ability to make what should be an interesting subject extremely dull. I had forgotten that I had read one of his earlier works and I choose not to make the same mistake by finishing it!
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