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Three millennia ago, the Greek philosopher Zeno constructed a series of logical paradoxes to prove that motion is impossible. Today, these paradoxes remain on the cutting edge of our investigations into the fabric of space and time. Zeno?s Paradox uses the motion paradox as a jumping-off point for an exploration of the twenty-five-hundred-year quest to uncover the true nature of the universe. From Galileo to Einstein to Stephen Hawking, some of the greatest minds in history have tackled the problem and made spectacular breakthroughs?but through it all, the paradox of motion remains.
Lunar calendars suffer from an inherent uncertainty in the length of each month and the number of months in the year. Variable atmospheric conditions, weather and the acuity of the eye of an observer mean that the first sighting of the new moon crescent can never be known in advance. Calendars which rely on such observations to define the beginning of a new month therefore suffer from this lack of certainty as to whether a month will begin on a given day or the next. The papers in this volume address the question of how ancient and medieval societies lived with the uncertainties of a lunar calendar.
The 5,000-year struggle to align the heavens with the clock and what happened to the missing ten days.
Measuring the daily and yearly cycle of the cosmos has never been entirely straightforward.The year 2000 is alternatively the year 2544 (Buddhist), 6236 (Ancient Egyptian), 5761 (Jewish) or simply the year of the Dragon (Chinese). The story of the creation of the Western calendar is a story of emperors and popes, mathematicians and monks, and the growth of scientific calculation to the point where, bizarrely, our measurement of time by atomic pulses is now more acurate than Time itself: the Earth is an elderly lady and slightly eccentric – she loses half a second a century.
What is time? The 5th-century philosopher St. Augustine famously said that he knew what time was, so long as no one asked him. Is time a fourth dimension similar to space or does it flow in some sense? And if it flows, does it make sense to say how fast? Does the future exist? Is time travel possible? Why does time seem to pass in only one direction?These questions and others are among the deepest and most subtle that one can ask, but Introducing Time presents them—many for the first time—in an easily accessible, lucid and engaging manner, wittily illustrated by Ralph Edney.
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