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Why Time Flies

Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation

Alan Burdick

For more than two thousand years the world’s great minds have argued about the true essence of time. Is it finite or infinite? Is it continuous or discrete? Does it flow like a river or is it granular, proceeding in small bits like sand trickling through an hourglass? And most immediately, what is the present?

What is time, exactly? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly?

In this witty and meditative exploration, Alan Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how and why we perceive time the way we do. He visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that ‘now’ actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backwards. Why Time Flies is a vivid and intimate examination of the clocks that tick inside us all.


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Alan Burdick
About the Author

Alan Burdick is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to its science-and-tech blog. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, GQ, Discover, Best American Science and Nature Writing.

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2 October 2017
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Praise for Alan Burdick
andWhy Time Flies

‘In his lucid, thoughtful, and beautifully written inquiry about time…Burdick offers nothing less than a new way of reconsidering what it means to be human.’

‘Alan Burdick offers a fascinating and searching account of how we perceive time’s passage. It will change the way you think about the past, and also the present.’

‘Alan Burdick turns an obsession with the nature of time into a thrilling quest—one that brilliantly illuminates a subject that haunts us all. Time may fly by but at least while reading these pages it is never wasted.’

‘[Why Time Flies] opens up a well of fascinating queries and gives us a glimpse of what has become an ever more deepening mystery for humans: the nature of time.’

’An insightful meditation on the curious nature of time….A highly illuminating intellectual investigation.’

‘Alan Burdick takes a new, interesting and mindful approach to the topic in an effort to understand what we know about that often intangible concept we call time.’

‘[Burdick] is a lucid and well-informed commentator on scientific matters. Here, he takes us by the wrist and leads us through the maze of time. We could not ask for a better guide.’

‘Brilliant, brain-boggling.’

‘[Burdick] is an engaging writer guided by curiosity.’

‘To readers of the New Yorker, Burdick’s style is instantly recognisable: informal, informed and indefatigably researched…His wit and humour keep the narrative rolling with wry observations.’

‘A fascinating premise that we can all relate to…A well-researched volume [with] some fascinating insights.’

‘Time for Burdick is ultimately an adventure of discovery. His wealth of deeply researched and detailed but humorous stories serves to raise our curiosity…Make time to read his fascinating and illuminating book.’

Other editions ofWhy Time Flies
  • Why Time Flies
    ISBN: 9781925626148
    2 October 2017
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