A World without Time

Palle Yourgrau

It is a commonly known but seldom considered fact that Albert Einstein and Kurt Godel were best friends for the last decade and a half of Einstein’s life, during which time they were best friends. Every day, the two of them went home from Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study together, exchanging thoughts about physics, philosophy, politics, and the forgotten world of German science in which they had grown up. By 1949, Godel had discovered a spectacular piece of evidence demonstrating that time cannot exist in any universe defined by the Theory of Relativity. Despite his reservations, Einstein welcomed the outcome, even though it completely demolished the classical worldview he was dedicated to. It was impossible for him, and no one else has been able to do so in the half-century that has passed since that time. However, after this astounding discovery, what followed was perhaps more surprising than the finding itself: nothing. Cosmologists and philosophers alike have carried on with their work as if Godel’s evidence had never existed, resulting in one of the greatest intellectual scandals in contemporary intellectual history. A World Without Time is a sprawling, majestic novel that is also heartbreaking and intimate in its storytelling. It relates the story of two bright minds who were pushed to the sidelines by the scientific fads of their day, and it aims to rescue the wonderful work they produced together from unjust obscurity by resurrecting them.