Wednesday, June 09, 2010

This and That

A roller-coaster of a week.

- It was sunny so we went to the seaside (last Thursday) - subsequently there's been nothing but rain.

- There was the tantalising prospect of a new contract (I was all set up to travel to Berkshire on Monday) - but almost immediately it all fell through.

- Due to the weather, bulding work at our home has slowed down. The side-wall is not entirely finished but all the work today is in preparation for the laying of the tarmac on the drive tomorrow. Next week it's the double-glazing; the week after that it's finishing the wall.

Today I finished Sean Caroll's book "From Eternity to Here" which is an extended essay on the nature of time and why there is an arrow of time. Carroll outlines the orthodox position which is that time is an expression of the increasing entropy of the universe which raises the question of why the past (going back to the Big Bang) had a lower entropy in the first place. A number of possibilities are considered leveraging GR, QM and (speculatively) quantum gravity until we get to Carroll's preferred explanation (baby universes in a de Sitter multiverse).

Carroll is a gifted teacher, writing with great conceptual clarity and repeatedly illustrating his points with striking insights. Writing a book which is essentially about how the great physical theories of the age handle entropy was always going to be a challenge to make interesting. Still, I can't imagine anyone making a better job of it and there is a satisfying sense of cognitive closure as the book is finally closed. I'd say he's ENTP.