Time : A Traveller's Guide

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In this text, the author strives to answer the most challenging questions scientists and philosophers ask. What is time? Is time travel possible? Is time real? Does it flow in one direction only? Does it have a beginning or an end? What is eternity? For centuries, these questions have intrigued mystics, philosophers and scientists. Today many physicists consider time one of the strangest properties of our universe. This book seeks to allow readers to travel through time and space without expert knowledge of physics - helping them understand such seemingly arcane concepts as space-time diagrams, light cones, time machines, cosmic moment lines, transcendent infinite speeds, Lorentz transformations, causal linkages, superliminal and ultraliminal motions, Minkowskian space-times, G model universes, closed timelike curves and Tipler cylinders.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1 halftone, 74 line figures, bibliography
  • 0195120426
  • 9780195120424

About Clifford A. Pickover

Clifford A. Pickover is Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. The lead writer for the brain-boggler column in Discover magazine, Pickover is the author of many bestselling books on popular science topics. He lives in Yorktown Heights, New York.show more

Review Text

A playful introduction to modern physics from a Discovery magazine columnist. Pickover frames his discussion of time in a didactic science-fictional tale (told somewhat clumsily in the second person) set a few decades in the future and featuring an alien philosopher named Mr. Veil, who is your assistant at the Museum of Music. In order to travel backward in time to enjoy the piano playing of Chopin (whose music functions as a leitmotif here), you must instruct Veil in the nature of time and space, particularly Einstein's Relativity Theory. Veil performs simple experiments using futuristic hardware to demonstrate the key issues: the subjective nature of "now," the flexibility of time and space in systems in motion relative to one another, and the speed of light as an invariable. After each brief chunk of story, the text steps back to examine "the science behind the science fiction" in a more straightforwardly didactic manner. Pickover encourages the reader to approach the material in an interactive way, offering computer programs (in BASIC) to calculate some of the quantities discussed. Frequent references to popular sci-fi movies and stories make the concepts even more accessible to readers. After the by-now well-worn subject of relativity is sufficiently explained, the latter chapters discuss the possibility of real time travel, using such speculative techniques as wormholes (caused by the enormous gravitation of black holes) and giant rotating cylinders. Along the way, Pickover looks at the broader philosophical implications of time travel, especially in relation to the paradoxes involving causality and the immutability of the past. While much of this is familiar to sci-fi fans and followers of popular science, the basic principles are clearly explained, and the shift from the framing story to straight exposition is not too abrupt. In spite of the overly cute narrative form, this could serve as an entertaining introduction to modern scientific principles for bright students as well as adults. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

Preface. The Relativity of Simultaneity. Building an Einstein-Langevin Clock. The Lorentz Transformation. The Brain's Time Machine. Here-Now and Elsewhere in Space-Time. Three Important Rules for Time Travelers. Your Space or Mine?. How to Time Travel into the Future. Future Shock. Gravitational Time Dilation. Tachyons. Cosmic Moment Lines. Transcendent Infinite Speeds. Time Travel by Baloons and Strings. Can John F. Kennedy Be Saved?. Closed Timelike Curves in a Godelian Universe. Wormhole Time Machines. Adventures with Time. Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation. Some Concluding Musings and Thoughts. References. Appendix 1: The Grand Internet Time-Travel Survey. Appendix 2: Smorgesbord for Computer Junkiesshow more

Rating details

175 ratings
3.67 out of 5 stars
5 21% (37)
4 38% (66)
3 31% (54)
2 8% (14)
1 2% (4)
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