Home Authors Books Subjects Events Software Features Links Newsletter Gifts Blog Write Review What's New

Review - The Labyrinth of Time - Michael Lockwood  

Visit bookshop

This is a bit of curious book (by which I mean it's surprisingly odd, not that it has a highly developed sense of curiosity). It's a popular science wolf in sheep's clothing. It looks like a glossy, pop sci spectacular. It has beautiful, expensive looking graphics and chapter titles like "weaving the cosmic tapestry" and "from quantum jumps to Schrödinger's cat". It even mentions the Beatles in the preface. Yet there's something rather less fluffy lurking under the light-weight presentation.

Done right, this is a great achievement, putting heavyweight content into a user-friendly frame - but unfortunately, with the best will in the world, Michael Lockwood doesn't achieve it. He doesn't succeed in explaining the two main philosophical views on time (tensed and tenseless) in a way that the general reader can latch on to, and after that, instead of building on solid foundations, he is building on shifting sands.

What the book tries to do is use an understanding of time as a way into the complex physics of the present day, from cosmology to quantum physics. However, the problem here is that he hasn't succeeded in wrenching time out of the hands of the philosophers and giving it to the scientists, so we get an uncomfortable mix of philosophy and physics, which never works very well.

It would frankly be much better if he had concentrated on time more only bringing in relativity and quantum physics where relevant, and moreover, concentrated on the science of time, detaching it from the philosophy. As it is, the book is neither one thing or the other, and there's a book out there already covering each of the components better.

Don't get me wrong it's a noble effort, and beautifully produced. There's some good stuff about time travel and all the usual paradoxes and unlikely cosmological vehicles. But it's not the popular science book on time and the universe that it claims to be.

Only in hardback

Reviewed by Brian Clegg


This site has no connection with Popular Science magazine or other sites and publications with a similar name.

Much of the content of this site is written by popular science writers or friends of popular science writers. Inevitably many of the reviews in such a small community are written by or about someone we know. We always aim to be impartial in our reviews, but there is a connection which we need make clear, as there is no intention to deceive. The content of any review or article is solely the opinion of the author and should not be read or understood on any other basis. The site exists to promote popular science writing and popular science authors and for this reason should be considered promotional material, just as the editorial reviews in an online bookshop or the blurb on the back of a book should be considered promotional.

The website should not be eaten or used where it can come into contact with water.

Disagree with our review? Want to comment on a feature? Contact us at info@ popularscience.co.uk - have your say!

Part of the Popular Science  site

Copyright © Creativity Unleashed Limited 2005
Last update 05 June 2007