From Eternity to Here: Book Club

By Sean Carroll | January 12, 2010 8:47 am

As promised, we’re going to have a book club to talk about From Eternity to Here. Roughly speaking, every Tuesday I’ll post about another chapter, and we’ll talk about it. Easy enough, right? (Chapters 4 and 5, about relativity, are pretty short and will be combined into one week.)

For the most part I won’t be summarizing each chapter — because you’ll all have read the book, so that would be boring. Instead, I want to give some behind-the-scenes insight about what was going through my mind when I put each chapter together — a little exclusive for readers of the blog. Of course, in the comments I hope we can discuss the substance of the chapters in as much detail as we like. I’m going to try to participate actively in all the discussions, so I hope to answer questions when I can — and certainly expect to learn something myself along the way.

The book is divided into four parts: an overview, spacetime and relativity, entropy and the Second Law, and a discussion of how it all fits into cosmology. You can find a more detailed table of contents here, and here is the prologue to get you in the mood. Part Three is definitely the high point of the book, so be sure to stick around for that.

So see you next Tuesday! Get reading!

Part One: Overview

Part Two: Relativity

Part Three: Entropy and the Arrow of Time

Part Four: Time and the Universe

  • Jim

    This sounds fun! My copy arrives today!! Can’t wait to get started.

  • Carol Roper

    I’m currently in Chapter 5… can’t WAIT to get to part 3! Looking forward to the discussions.

  • Christian Ready

    Looking forward to the discussion & insights.

  • Leonard Ornstein


    If the cosmological constant was somewhat different, the visible universe might be contracting, on its way ‘towards’ a state similar to that of a big bang universe, at its time ‘zero’. But the contraction would be in the ‘most probable direction’, in terms of our understanding of physics, and entropy would be increasing with passing time, even though the visible universe would be approaching a state indistinguishable from what you suggest is one of minimal entropy. However, omelets would not be turning into eggs 😉

    In your prologue, you completely ignore this paradoxical problem.

  • Pat Dennis

    Judging by a couple of the Amazon reviews, I hope you plan to actively “monitor” the comments on the book club.

  • Clifford Hall

    Mine just arrived! STANDING BY.

  • Paul

    listened to Coast to Coast while Mr Carroll was talking about this book excellent — he has my high mark for lecture. but i imagine he will be to busy coaching the Seahawks now ! :-0

  • dr. lisa

    Just purchased a copy today. Looking forward to the discussions!

  • cope

    Rats, now I have to go out and buy a copy to do my homework. Fortunately, one of my high-school science students gave me a generous gift card to B & N. I can’t think of a better way to use it.

  • Brad DeLong

    Well, I think it’s all going wrong. The book is turning me into a believer in Boltzmann’s Brain–I keep going to the window and peering out to see if the rest of the universe is still there or has collapsed into chaos yet…

    • Sean

      The world outside seems pretty chaotic at the moment, but it’s not yet thermal equilibrium.

  • NicoleS

    Just came across this in my reader. Will pick it up this weekend! Very excited!

  • Limmo

    Great timing, my copy arrived today. And I’m living in Germany! Globalization rocks.

  • tlee1771

    While reading about closed timelike curves, I was feeling a little down, thinking my deterministic world had been destroyed and there was free will (bummer to me). Then I learned they probably don’t exist and I felt good again. Was worried I might have to change from a liberal to a conservative, whew.

    Now I’m learning that information can be lost (I don’t want info. to be lost) and was thankful that CPT has a way around it. This is all very hard for a Dentist- Biologist with a passion for Physics, but I’m lovin it.

    Thanks, Sean, B.Greene, L. Randall, L. Susskind, and S. Hawking for your books.

  • Kaleberg

    Any chance you’ll be commenting on Verlinde’s think on arXiv. I haven’t read your book yet, but it sounds like you are wading in the same waters.

    • Sean

      At some point I hope to — haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

  • maxwell’s d.

    I’m sure we’d all be very interested to read your thoughts on Verlinde’s paper, Sean. At the very least it’s makes some powerful philosophical claims motivated by concerns that appear similar to yours. And at the very most it’s a true watershed paper.

  • Susan

    I never have been on a blog or book club in my long life, but yours will be worth my time.

  • Andreas

    Okay, I ordered it and got it, but all I see is Burt Lancaster in swimtrunks in the surf.

  • TS

    I hope you explain a little better the end of chapter one (from “Twisty paths through spacetime” to the end.) I had a hard time understanding a few comments, ie “a straight trajectory between two events in spacetime describes the longest elapsed duration” and the part about block time, eternalism and presentism. I couldn’t understand what you were getting at.

    Anyway, I am enjoying the book, and look forward to grasping fully the concepts you are writing about.

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter One | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • RGG

    It’s 2:30 EST, hope I haven’t missed Chapter 1. Is it on another link?

  • Sean

    RGG, each chapter will have its own post. Here’s the discussion for Chapter One.

  • Pingback: Book Club: From Eternity to Here, by Sean Carroll « The Thoughtful Animal()

  • Leonard Ornstein


    In your thread on Chapter 1, you take the trouble to address each question raised.

    But here, you’ve completely ignored #4 (that I raised).

    How come?

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Two | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Three | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapters Four and Five | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Six | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Seven | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Eight | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Nine | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine()

  • Pingback: From Eternity to Book Club: Chapter Nine | Cosmic Variance | YourTechWorld()


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

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] .


See More

Collapse bottom bar