That’s right — From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time is out today. That means you could head over to Amazon.com and buy the book right now:
Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Of course you could also buy it later, but there are benefits to having a great first day, and we’re aiming to get as many Amazon purchases as we can. So you might want to take Lee Billings’s advice:
I’m excited, anyway. You can find various goodies on the web page, including a reprint of the prologue, an annotated table of contents, a list of upcoming events, links to blurbs and reviews and other commentary, and a collection of related articles. Heck, I even went out and made a video:
I don’t think Spielberg is checking his rear-view mirror, but my budget was a bit lower.
Looking back through my old emails, I was first talking seriously about writing a book on the arrow of time in August, 2006. The contract with Dutton was agreed upon in May, 2007. Worked on it on and off, and finally started working in earnest in mid/late-2008. I emailed the manuscript to the publisher at 2:42 a.m. on Friday, May 8, 2009. And now it’s released to the world.
Writing the book was actually a lot of fun. If you write a very long blog post or medium-length magazine article, you’re talking 3,000 words. This book is 180,000 words, including footnotes. Room to stretch a bit and explain things the right way! Part of the fun was learning new things — I dug into the history a bit, reading papers by Boltzmann and his contemporaries, and also looked into interesting topics like complexity and information theory. But perhaps even more enjoyable was the challenge of explaining really deep ideas in an understandable way. I have a whole chapter that tries to work through the ideas of determinism and reversibility from the ground up — something that most physics books just zoom right past. There are a lot of places where I really took care to explain something basic in a fresh and accessible way — or tried to, anyway. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so we’ll see what people think.
One thing I learned is that producing a book is very much a collaborative effort. I owe a lot to Stephen Morrow, Tala Oszkay, Katinka Matson, and John Brockman, who provided invaluable guidance and steered me in the right direction more than once. Jason Torchinsky contributed the charming illustrations. And of course to my wife Jennifer, for many reasons, but it doesn’t hurt to have an expert writer and editor right there in the house when you embark on a project like this. Many people were gracious enough to read through the book and point out where it could be improved — with embarrassing accuracy, I may add. (Special thanks to Scott Aaronson and George Musser, for their detailed and substantive critiques.) And I was fortunate enough get a dream team of physicist-writers to provide blurbs for the back of the book: Lisa Randall, Brian Greene, Kip Thorne, and Roger Penrose. I won’t reproduce them all here (that’s what the web page is for), but here’s Penrose:
Sean Carroll’s From Eternity to Here provides a wonderfully accessible account of some of the most profound mysteries of modern physics. While you may not agree with all his conclusions, you will find the discussion fascinating, and taken to much deeper levels than is normal in a work of popular science.
Of course everyone will agree with all my conclusions … eventually.
Enough of the folderol of writing and publishing the damn book — time to talk about the science! Next week I’ll post the schedule for a weekly book club right here at Cosmic Variance; the discussions will officially begin on January 19, and will continue every subsequent Tuesday. I’m going to try to participate as much as I can in the discussions — I want to hear how people react to the book, but I’m also expecting to learn a lot. Time and the origin of the universe — pretty big subjects, always room to understand more.