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Of Clocks and Time

Lutz Hüwel


Of Clocks and Time takes readers on a five-stop journey through the physics and technology– and occasional bits of applications and history – of timekeeping. On the way, conceptual vistas and qualitative images abound, but since mathematics is spoken everywhere, the book visits equations, quantitative relations, and rigorous definitions are offered as well. The expedition begins with a discussion of the rhythms produced by the daily and annual motion of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. Centuries worth of observation and thinking culminate in Newton's penetrating theoretical insights since his notion of space and time are still influential today. During the following two legs of the trip, tools are being examined that allow us to measure hours and minutes and then, with ever-growing precision, the tiniest fractions of a second. When the pace of travel approaches the ultimate speed limit, the speed of light, time and space exhibit strange and counter-intuitive traits. On this fourth stage of the journey, Einstein is the local tour guide whose special and general theories of relativity explain the behaviour of clocks under these circumstances. Finally, the last part of the voyage reverses direction, moving ever deeper into the past to explore how we can tell the age of "things" – including that of the universe itself.

About Editors

Lutz Hüwel received his PhD from the Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany. He went on to attend the Max-Planck Institut für Strömungsforschung (MPI for Fluid Dynamics) in Göttingen, where he was awarded the Otto-Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements. Hüwel started a postdoc appointment at JILA in Boulder, Colorado, later moving to Wesleyan University where he combines teaching physics at the graduate, undergraduate major, and non-science student level with research in molecular photophysics and laser-produced plasmas.

Table of Contents


Paperback ISBN: 9780750329125

Ebook ISBN: 9781681741604

DOI: 10.1088/978-1-6817-4096-6

Publisher: Morgan & Claypool Publishers


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