Image Source: Better World Books.
For those interested in how our understanding of time shapes our view of the cosmos, The Space Review has a review of a book by Adam Frank, About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang. Frank's book, now coming out in paperback, discusses what could have existed prior to the Big Bang:
Many books have as their origins a single question to be studied, if not answered. In the case of astrophysicist Adam Frank, that question was raised by a student in one of his University of Rochester classes in 2007: “What happened before the Big Bang?” While an understandable question to ask, it’s similar to asking what’s south of the South Pole: the Big Bang is when the universe, and time, began. Or was it? “Now it appears that science is ready to go beyond, and before, the Big Bang,” he writes in the books’ prologue.
If this was a conventional book on cosmology, Frank would likely go from there into an exploration of the development of the Big Bang model of the formation of the universe and more recent efforts to propose models for what might have triggered the Big Bang in the first place—and thus give an idea for that “before” question raised in his class. However, Frank goes for a much broader scope in book, examining the concept of time itself, from both a scientific and cultural standpoint: how humans have perceived, and measured, time over the millennia, and how it has shaped our lives and civilization.