Further information on Winter 2019 courses


Rich Noer: It’s About Time


Course text

In Search of Time, by Dan Falk (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010).  List price new (paperback) is about $18; copies have been requested at Content bookstore; they normally give a 10% discount.  A Kindle e-book version sells for about $10.  Used copies are available online (Amazon.com or AbeBooks.com) for considerably less than the new price; several versions are available, each with a different subtitle but (as far as I can tell) identical text.


Schedule of classes (subject to modification)

Class      Topics                                                                                              Falk chapter

1             Gather questions & issues from class                                               1, 2
               “Now”; past, present, future
               Cyclic vs linear time

2             History: astronomical clocks, how decide which is right?               2
                   Units: day, month, year; then hours, minutes, seconds
                   Calendars: Julian vs Gregorian; leap years, leap seconds…

3             Clocks                                                                                               3
                   Pulse beats, water flow
                   Pendulum, escapement; spring watch; digital watch
                   Harrison & longitude measurement challenge Atomic clocks
                   Carbon dating (timing to the past)

4             Newtonian absolute time                                                                   6, 10
                   Newton vs Leibniz controversy
                   Causality & block time
                   Arrow of time: billiards vs scrambled eggs

5             Einstein’s time; clock synchronization                                              7
                   Relativity of simultaneity; time dilation
                   World lines, light cones

6             Time travel                                                                                         8
                   Twins “paradox”; travel to future
                   Wormholes: travel to past, problems & paradoxes

7             Age of earth, of universe                                                                    9
                   Geologic time
                   Evolution: linear time
                   Big bang, cosmology
                   Accelerating expansion
                   Cosmic arrow

8             Time as illusion vs real flow (of what?)                                         5, 12