The Excitement Builds!

By Sean Carroll | December 7, 2009 8:31 am

I think we can all agree that I’ve been admirably restrained with respect to talking about my upcoming book before it even appears. (Maybe you don’t think so, but believe me — I’ve been restraining myself.) Die-hards have been able to follow the excitement at the Facebook page, where fascinating details about cover blurbs and review copies have been politely sequestered.

All that is about to end soon! Yesterday I received in the mail an actual copy of the hardcover, a tangible artifact testifying to the reality of this long-anticipated event. Here it is, rubbing shoulders with a few other well-known bestsellers.

From Eternity to Here

The official release date is January 7. Yes, there will be a Kindle edition; at some point later in January there will even be an audio book. And I’m certainly not going to stop you from ordering it. But my publisher tells me that what would be really great is if a bunch of people ordered it exactly on January 7. So that’s when I’ll really be encouraging you.

Even after the book is out, I don’t want to turn the blog into all book, all the time. But I do want to try a book club experiment, where we go through individual chapters, one week at a time, with me revealing some of the thought processes that went into each chapter and all of us having a back-and-forth discussion. Should be fun!

No formal book tour, but I’ll be doing a few readings and events. Check the Facebook page or book web page for more.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal, Time, Words
  • Joe

    I was quite disappointed to search for the book on Audible (I figured I’d put it on my wish list) and come up with a book on how to rediscover the ageless purpose of God instead.

  • Stephen

    I’m excited to read your book!

  • Anton

    Will the audio book be read by you?

    • Sean

      Nope — they got a professional.

  • Tom

    Alright, the Bible is an important historical text, but the Da Vinci Code… right next your your book? Who’s coffee table is this?

  • NewEnglandBob

    Wait a while before you do “…where we go through individual chapters, one week at a time, with me revealing some of the thought processes that went into each chapter and …” so that many people have a chance to read it.

  • Jud

    Yee-ha! I’m not sure I can wait a month to order the Kindle version, even knowing I won’t be able to start reading it before the release date. In order to help me and your legions of (im)patient fans, is the idea behind waiting until 1/7 that only orders in a limited timeframe count for bestseller list purposes on the NY Times, Amazon, etc.?

    • Sean

      Jud, that’s exactly right. The more people buy the book on the first day, the more likely it is to get a good Amazon rank, so the more likely it is that other people will see and buy it, boosting the rank further… That’s the theory, anyway.

  • Paradox Olbers

    Sean, if I pre-order ‘From Eternity to Here’ at Amazon, will that be counted as a Jan 7th first-day order? I decided to buy it after hearing your May 29th, 2009 “Dark Forces” presentation in the Virtual World (VW) of Second Life. For interested people, here’s the MICA [Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics] page linking to your slideset and audio from that talk –

    Paradox Olbers in SL/Spike R. MacPhee in RL
    MICA member

    • Sean

      Paradox, pre-orders count right away, they don’t accumulate in anticipation of the release date. I certainly won’t discourage anyone from ordering the book right now, but the impact of such orders decays away gradually over time.

  • Godfather

    Sorry if I’m too hard in case but here is the deal: you promise to try a book club experiment each week or month, I promise I’ll buy the book on January 7.

    Nothing personnal.

  • Bianco

    Why isn’t your copy of Sarah Palin’s book in the picture?

  • hackenkaus

    I can’t believe you used the wrong Amazon link to your own book.

    Also, you’ve been spelling your own name wrong.

  • Brian Mingus

    Sean, how many promotions for your book do your faithful blog readers have to endure before we each get a free copy?

    • Sean

      The distribution of free copies runs contrary to my pecuniary interests.

  • Robert Frost

    Perhaps it could be renamed From Eternity To Here To The Bank?

    Gotta love modern science.

  • Anton

    Just curious, how did the time and effort investment in writing this book compare to the investment in writing the Spacetime and Geometry textbook?

  • Jimbo

    Have a specific question about your book.
    About 30 years ago, Paul Davies wrote a technical book, The Physics of Time Asymmetry, which I read with great interest. He sketched in detail the arrows of time: cosmological, thermodynamical, electrodynamical, and quantum mechanical, but I don’t believe a hierarchy was ever asserted.
    If I understand your thesis correctly, you go with the thermodynamic one. If so, in what order do the other ones descend, or are they applicable only in limited physical contexts ?
    Thanx !

  • Cartesian

    Hello Sean,

    What I know is that it is not very easy to sell some serious books, and for this we can refer to the story of Descartes for example ; but the fact that you are in a university should help normally, it could even help a lot. Good luck !

  • joulesm

    Boo DaVinci Code. Might as well put Twilight on there…jkjk

    I’m excited for your book release! Definitely put a reminder (on facebook or here) and I’ll help your ratings.

  • Tim

    Isn’t the fact that many scientists would rather focus time and energy on writing books about general science instead of actual research an indication their field is hopelessly stuck?

  • AdamK

    Eagerly anticipating. I pre-ordered a while back.

  • Sean

    Anton, in both cases the book-writing timescale was between one and two years. The textbook took more time (there were a lot more equations), but spread out over two periods of energetic work.

    Jimbo, the interesting arrows of time to me are the ones that actually involve irreversibility, so the cosmological one doesn’t count. The others, I believe, all reduce to the thermodynamic arrow. But it’s not easy to prove that beyond reasonable doubt.

  • Metre

    I do plan on purchasing and reading your book, and I hope it is more readable than Barbour’s “End of Time” which was, basically, unreadable. Try though I might, I could penetrate his prose or his ideas. In other posts, I believe you stated that you do not concur with his hypothesis. Do you address Barbour’s idea at all in your book (partly I’m hoping someone else will explain Barbour’s idea to me)?

  • Adam Solomon

    Can the audio book please be narrated by Salman Rushdie?

  • Robert Frost

    “Arrow of Time” = irreversibility of causality.

    Ho hum; what’s the fuss?

    Only requires one sentence, not a book.

  • CarlN

    The title “From Eternity To Here” is actually a logical contradiction. Which is easily proved :-)

    Consider “From Here to Somewhere in the infinite Future”:

    Make yourself immortal (no matter what happens to the universe) and count the years you live from now on: 1, 2, 3, .. n, n+1..

    Now it is a fact that adding 1 to any finite number is still a finite number. So even though you live forever your age will always remain finite (for all future!). An infinite amout of time cannot pass.

    You will never reach a point in time where you can say: My age is infinite!

    However, the title suggest that an infinte amount of time has already passed, which is clearly impossible. Time is unable to cover infinite intervals.

  • Metre

    @CarlN #27
    The set of all integers is infinite, even though it is countable. In fact, you can count the set of all positive and negative integers with just the set of positive integers. Playing with infinity is a dangerous game.

  • CarlN

    Metre, you are playing with the mathematical infinite, not me. I carefully restrict myself only to physical time :-)

  • Anonymous Snowboarder

    “Paradox, pre-orders count right away, they don’t accumulate in anticipation of the release date. I certainly won’t discourage anyone from ordering the book right now, but the impact of such orders decays away gradually over time.”

    Sean are you saying that pre-orders are overdamped solutions of your checking account oscillator?

  • CarlN

    Hm, a book with an illogical and unphysical title. The content might be the same.. Guess I’m not buying it :-)

  • Metre

    @CarlN #29:
    In post #27, you used counting and adding to illustrate your argument, hence you invoked the mathematical infinity. Your argument is just a variation of Zeno’s paradox, and is invalid for the same reason – you cannot apply the logic of the finite to the infinite. Google up Hilbert’s paradox to see how finite logic does not apply to the infinite.

  • CarlN

    Dear Metre, sorry but I did not invoke the mathematical infinity. And Zeno and Hilbert are clearly irrelevant. You simply do not reach the infinite by keep adding 1 at a time to a finite number even if you do it forever. Proof: There is no finite number n such that n+1 = oo

  • metre


    OK, if that’s what you want to believe, there’s no point to further discussion.

  • CarlN

    Why don’t you formulate proofs then? Using Hilbert or whatever? Impossible if you ask me but you know better?

  • CarlN

    As usual I win the argument :-) But it is sad to see that the only carry-over left from religion, “Eternity”, still occurs in physics.

  • Sam Wolk

    Wow, @CarlN I think the whole point of the title is that it is slightly illogical and paradoxical. If you see the book on a book shelf the point is to think, hmm that is interesting, why don’t I see what it is about, and perhaps you shouldn’t comment on how a title is stupid before reading the book; there might be something in the book that explains it. Would you say that saying from here to eternity is a reasonable thing to say? Because by your logic that is also completely a false claim. The whole idea of “infinity” is something that is slightly vague and undefinable. By some views, from 0 to 1 is infinite because an infinite amount of numbers is contained, yet there is certainly a beginning and an end.

    Also, @metre, invoking Zeno and Hilbert is completely reasonable.

    P.S. I got your back Sean… Can’t wait for the book… I love the title

  • joulesm

    Hey Sean,
    Just saw the Wired article about you :) Question, where can I get a blow-up beach ball of the universe??


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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