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Likely you've heard that the mechanical clock is one of humanity's most significant inventions, comparable to the printing press, or electricity, or the automobile. But first-time author Jo Ellen Barnett admits that most of us, if we're honest, don't quite see why. Our perception of time, and our artificial division of it into little, repeatable pieces, is so ingrained in us that we forget it's an invention.
Barnett, who admits to having been fascinated by time all her life, seems the perfect person to clear up this conceptual blind spot. Drawing from many disciplines, she's conducted a sweeping survey of our relationship with time, from our earliest attempts to measure and understand it to our more recent breakthroughs with carbon dating and atomic clocks. Time's Pendulum never skimps on the science, with its detailed explanations and unapologetic technical discussions. But what makes the book so very likable (and readable) is Barnett's passion for meditating on time's cultural and even spiritual mysteries. If you're already intrigued by time, Time's Pendulum makes for a satisfying, meaty read, rich in insights and historical anecdotes; if you aren't already intrigued, you will be. --Paul Hughes [via]