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The Clock Mirage:
Our Myth of Measured Time
 

Named one of Book Riot's Six Great Nonfiction Books about Time

 

"A thought-provoking voyage." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

What is time? This question has fascinated philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists for thousands of years. Why does time seem to speed up with age? What is its connection with memory, anticipation, and sleep cycles?

The Clock Mirage provides an engaging exploration of how the understanding of time has evolved throughout human history and offers a compelling new vision, submitting that time lives within us. Our cells, he notes, have a temporal awareness, guided by environmental cues in sync with patterns of social interaction. Readers learn that, as a consequence of time's personal nature, a forty-eight-hour journey on the Space Shuttle can feel shorter than a six-hour trip on the Soyuz capsule, that the Amondawa of the Amazon do not have ages, and that time speeds up with fever and slows down when we feel in danger. 

With a narrative punctuated by personal stories of time's effects on truck drivers, Olympic racers, prisoners, and clockmakers. The journey is filled with fascinating insights into how our technologies, our bodies, and our attitudes can change our perceptions. Ultimately, time reveals itself as something that rides on the rhythms of our minds. The Clock Mirage presents an innovative perspective that will force us to rethink our relationship with time, and how best to use it.

  

 

"[A] mind-stretching book…skilfully written…[Mazur] has…considerately inserted human "interludes" between the scientific sections."—John Carey, The Sunday Times

  

"Marvelous... [Mazur] covers just about every other theorist of time with grace and wit, explains why time speeds up when you've got a fever and slows down when you think you're in danger, and he even finds the time to talk to everyone from city traders to truck-drivers about their very different experiences of clock-watching. They offer much food for thought, ...." —Christopher Bray, The Critic, September 2020


"About as free-ranging a meditation on time as you will find."—Matt Hutson, The Wall Street Journal

 

The Clock Mirage is a fantastically pluralistic exploration of all the phenomena we group together under the label "time". It offers both a lively introduction [to] the different scientific inquiries into these phenomena and a gripping reminder to the specialist (whether she is a philosopher, physicists, biologist, or psychologist) why time matters, for both the fabric of nature and our shared experience of life.—Miguel Ohnesorge, The Cleveland Review of Books

 

"With a narrative punctuated by personal stories of time's effects on truck drivers, Olympic racers, prisoners, and clockmakers, Mazur's journey is filled with fascinating insights into how our technologies, our bodies, and our attitudes can change our perceptions. Ultimately, time reveals itself as something that rides on the rhythms of our minds. The Clock Mirage presents an innovative perspective that will force us to rethink our relationship with time, and how best to use it."—Boomers Daily

 

Within a mere 230 pages of text, this all makes for a feature-packed, multi-dial super-watch of a book. It bristles with intellectual widgets cunningly squeezed into a machine of modest size. Mazur does the heavy lifting of scientific synopsis and explanation with polished assurance.... Readers will learn plenty from The Clock Mirage, be stretched by it, and have fun en route. It passes the time enjoyably and productively."—Boyd Tonkin, The I News

 

"It's the perfect moment, then, for Joseph Mazur's new book, The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time. In a work as comfortable with physics as with psychology, Mazur reviews our species' long engagement with days, hours, and seconds, as well as modern discoveries about the body's internal clock." —Gary Drevitch, Psychology Today

 

"... about as free-ranging a meditation on time as you will find. Each approach at a characterization might say something about time, but it says more about us. Mr. Mazur begins with its measurement, recounting the inventions of calendars, sundials and clocks, revealing the workings of human ingenuity." —Matthew Hutson, The Wall Street Journal

 
"With a narrative punctuated by personal stories of time's effects on truck drivers, Olympic racers, prisoners, and clockmakers, Mazur's journey is filled with fascinating insights into how our technologies, our bodies, and our attitudes can change our perceptions. Ultimately, time reveals itself as something that rides on the rhythms of our minds. The Clock Mirage presents an innovative perspective that will force us to rethink our relationship with time, and how best to use it." —Boomers Daily


"Beautifully done…Mazur's first love is theory, and he handles it well, using Zeno's paradoxes to unpack the close relationship between psychology and mathematics."—Simon Ings, Spectator

 

"This book is not so much about time but the human relationship with it, and if we modify its flow by interaction. It is a refreshingly oblique look at something we all experience every moment of our lives yet tend to see as a given."—Jenny Randles, Magonia Review

 

"Mazur opens an intellectual Pandora's Box and marvels fly out. Our familiarity with time misleads us into thinking it is simple, when it is paradoxical, elusive, and counterintuitive. Highly enjoyable and informative."—Ian Stewart, author of Do Dice Play God?

 

"A sweeping story in search of answers to a tantalizing mystery: what is time? Mazur offers an astonishing array of ideas, interviews and exposition, exploring time from many fascinating viewpoints."—Robyn Arianrhod, author of Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science

  

"Before reading The Clock Mirage, I generally thought of time as concrete (Einstein notwithstanding). Mathematician Joseph Mazur invites the reader not only to examine it in its myriad abstractions, but also to see it anew with various individuals regarding their own perceptions. He has an uncanny ability to engage both a scientific and lay audience through an intertwining of math with tender considerations of humanity, affectingly guiding us to consider our own mortality: the clock winding down within each of us."—Kia Corthron, playwright and author of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

 

"A journey of discovery in which Mazur, wise in the ways of the wild, invites us to see the edges of the known. This powerful investigation combines formidable research, mathematical expertise, and profound contemplations."

—William Goldbloom Bloch, author of The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel

 

"An expansive meditation on the meanings of time. As masterful teacher and earnest fellow traveler, Mazur leads us with heartfelt compassion, philosophical musings, and clear mathematical explanations, to find ourselves at the heart of it all."—Gizem Karaali, Editor of Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

 

"Elusive, counter-intuitive (theoretically-speaking), and always looming over our heads, it is no wonder that time has been the repeated subject of contemplation of great thinkers as well as armchair philosophers. Professor of Mathematics Joseph Mazur tackles time from what seems, at first glance, a playful journey: he takes a "tour of clocks" and weaves together the personal stories of truck drivers and Olympic athletes, prisoners, and clockmakers in an effort to show how time is used by our technologies, subsumed by our bodies, and continually affecting our behaviors. Historical and analytical, Mazur's investigation of time is sure to offer a lot of food for thought."  –Eleni Theodoropoulos, Lit Hub Editorial Fellow