Thursday, March 16, 2023

Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time, by Dean Buonomano (author), Aaron Abano (narrator)

Audible Audio, May 2017

This is a book about time, both the physics of time, and how our brains understand and manipulate time.

Many animals have the ability to learn from experience, and to project how to hunt, hide from predators, and other things necessary for higher animals to survive in their relatively complex worlds. Humans are the only animals whom we are certain can reflect on the past, plan for the less immediate future, and imagine things that don't have a lot of connection to the real, immediate world. The list of animals whom we have some evidence may share this ability has expanded over my lifetime, but it still doesn't seem to be a common ability.

With our minds, we can in some sense travel in time.

Yet we don't really understand time. We can't really describe time or how we move in it. Unlike space, physically, we can only travel in one direction in time--into the future. All of our words for motion in time are borrowed from our words for motion in space. Over the last century, we have learned that time isn't separate from space; spacetime is one thing.

We don't really have a full understanding of how it works, as whole, but especially the time component.

And yet, we can dwell in the past, and imagine the future.

Buonomano discusses both the physics of time, and how our minds manipulate time. He can't do that without equations, and though he does try to limit that, and to explain the equations clearly, it's one of the less accessible books on either physics or the mind that I've tackled. Still, I did enjoy it, and do feel that I learned from it.

If you find the math more accessible than I do, you'll get more out of it than I did. Do consider giving it a try.

I bought this audiobook.

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