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Breaking the Time Barrier: The Race to Build the First Time Machine

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ISBN-13: 978-0743492591
ISBN-10: 0743492595
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Physicist Paul Davies noted in How to Build a Time Machine (2001) that the building of such a machine is possible theoretically. Impeding progress are petty technical details such as how to access higher dimensional space, exceed the speed of light, or control a black hole. The construction efforts of science fiction writers, physicists, and the fringe element occupy British science writer Randles in this tour of imagined time travels, actual experiments, and dubious claims. In presenting a century's worth of speculation (dating back to The Time Machine by H. G. Wells) and physical findings (physicists in 1999 slowed light, and hence time, to a sprinter's speed), Randles can be breathless as well as factual. Would time travel be a reality had the world heeded the ideas of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current? Such mind-bending if unlikely propositions abound here, all anchored in the ideas of reputable physicists such as Kip Thorne (Black Holes and Time Warps, 1994). An entertaining combo of science proven and unproven. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Jenny Randles, who specialized in physics and geology at university, has sold more than one and a half million copies of her fifty published books. She has written articles for such journals as New Scientist, and lives in North Wales.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743492595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743492591
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Frank X. Purcell Jr. on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought "Breaking The Time Barrier" as a companion to the most excellent "Time Traveler" by Ronald Mallett, and if you are after a good book with time travel science in it, get Mallett's book.

I found Ms. Randles book a disappointment on two levels. First, it's filled with "gee whiz!" statements that upon further reading are discounted. Examples:

p. 102: "He (Frank Tipler) was the first modern scientist to design a time machine that could be constructed in the laboratory ... ". Later, on p.104, Ms. Randles backs away from that stating that, "Tipler's time machine was a worthy effort but is not likely for the foreseeable future ...". Because it would require a super dense cylinder over 60 miles long.

p.107 "The photo of Christ was a fake and the chronovisor did not work - but the device was built and the theory behind it was sound."

Antigravity experiments of Podkletnov are discussed (p. 174- 176). "Tests followed and many further experiments revealed the remarkable truth. Gravity was being reduced in the area above the floating superconductor." Then (p. 176) "But Podkletnov's research proved disappointingly difficult for others to verify."

Secondly, Ms. Randles, although seemingly familiar with modern physics ideas, sometimes misinterprets them. Example:

(pp. 77 - 78) Ms. Randles misunderstands Einstein Rosen bridges to mean that particles themselves travel through the bridges rather than quantum information.

If you do not have a science background and you are interested in time travel ideas then this could be a good starting book. For those who have had exposure to science there are a few jewels in the book such as the (brief) discussion of the delayed choice experiment.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
The first great popularising of the idea of a time machine was undoubtedly H.G. Wells' novel of the same name, but lesser known is the fact that scientists from the same time period forward to today have been speculating in earnest about the factual possibilities of time travel and time machines. These kinds of speculations do not take the form of machines that look like go-carts with umbrellas on top (such as the films portray), but they are nonetheless fascinating. Once upon a time, the idea that human beings would send ships to the moon and other planets seemed like the stuff of fanciful science fiction; time machines and time travel still has that veneer, but as recently as a few years ago, physicist Paul Davies was able to state with all seriousness that there is no theoretical problem with building a time machine.

Jenny Randles has put together an intriguing text looking at the history of time machine and time travel speculation and research. This includes a good dose of science fiction, but more interestingly, a strong selection of science fact. Scientists with well-known names such as Einstein, Fermi, Hawking, and Penrose are joined with lesser-known figures such as Kaku and Chernobrov, the latter of whom has claimed to have built a time machine of sorts already.

Of course, this flies in the face of the law of chronological protection - a speculation advanced by Hawking (among others) that there is an as-yet undiscovered law of nature that enforces the cause-preceding-effect sequence of events.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Novela on July 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jenny Randles writes about research being done in the arena of time travel. She compares our current period of time to the space race of the 60's. In her book she talks about various time travel theories and how the basic research into the area was started by Tesla. It was later expanded during the Philadelphia Experiment and the Montauk Project. Jenny Randles talks about modern researchers like Dr. Ron Mallet and about Steven Gibbs who claims to have built the first commercial time machine the HDR or Hyper Dimensional Resonator.

I thought it was well worth my time to become familiar with the world of time travel research and new events in chronodymanics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I adore books like this, stretching one's concepts beyond their comfort zone to consider new possibilities. At the same time, however, I feel compelled to approach such works as "Breaking the Time Barrier" with a healthy measure of skepticism. Of course, most people believe that crossing boundaries of time is impossible, although from a theoretical perspective it appears possible at the same time that it is unlikely. Jenny Randles, a British science writer, tracks in "Breaking the Time Barrier" efforts beyond science fiction and wishful thinking to crack that barrier. There are enormous challenges, probably insurmountable ones at least for the projected future, in overcoming the speed of light, understanding and moving beyond of three dimensions into higher dimensionality, and navigating the space-time continuum of a black hole.

Recent investigations undertaken by serious scientists may yield answers to at least some of these questions. The result might be a workable time machine in some distant unimaginable era. Then watch out, fascinating possibilities exist. Read and enjoy, but don't rush out and invest money in a company offering time travel vacations immediately. It will be quite a while before we see that.
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