Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time 1st Edition

51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0395955635
ISBN-10: 0395955637
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As one of the foremost scientists in the field of time travel, Princeton astrophysicist Gott takes it upon himself to disseminate advice on building time machines. The construction of the vessel itself is rarely of concern here; it is the way it is used and the way that space-time (the dimensions of space and time that we collectively consider to be our universe) behaves around it that may eventually allow adventurers to break with the usual order of things. Believing that science fiction often spurs true scientific discovery, Gott explores numerous theatrical and literary concepts before moving on to current bona fide theories, pointing out the difficulties of each method. Some possibilities for leaving the present involve dismantling Jupiter, making use of "cosmic strings," taking a trip at near light-speeds far out into space then back and warping space-time itself. Einstein's theory of relativity, upon which all of the presented theories depend, is described in impressively clear language. Practical tips for chrononauts on their options for travel and the contingencies to prepare for make everything sound bizarrely plausible. Gott clearly enjoys his subject and his excitement and humor are contagious; this book is a delight to read. (May 21)Forecast: This book will appeal to anyone who has ever been fascinated by time travel, as well as those who many have considered such a thing. Liberally sprinkled diagrams will help readers who find this stunning array of craziness a lot to take in. Good handselling by booksellers will ensure the author's events in New York, Boston, Ann Arbor, Seattle and San Francisco are well attended, and word-of-mouth by readers of all stripes will boost sales beyond the initial push.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

"One reason that time travel is so fascinating is that we have such a great desire to do it," Gott writes. And so he explores the possibilities of travel to the past and to the future. Being a professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, he does not stray from the laws of physics in constructing this stimulating odyssey. Being also the man who has made a number of intriguing predictions based on the Copernican idea that "your location is not special," Gott offers several predictions here. The future duration of the human species, for one--more than 5,100 years but less than 7.8 million. And "one of the things we should understand about time is that we have just a little," he argues that "the goal of the human spaceflight program should be to increase our survival prospects by colonizing space."

Editors of Scientific American


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1 edition (May 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395955637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395955635
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. Richard Gott is noted for his contributions to cosmology and general relativity. He has received the Robert J. Trumpler Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Astronomical League Award, and Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was for many years Chair of the Judges for the Westinghouse and Intel Science Talent Search.

His paper "On the Infall of Matter into Clusters of Galaxies and Some Effects on Their Evolution" co-authored with Jim Gunn has received over 1500 citations. He proposed that the clustering pattern of galaxies in the universe should be spongelike--a prediction now confirmed by numerous surveys. He discovered exact solutions to Einstein's field equations for the gravitational field around one cosmic string (in 1985) and two moving cosmic strings (in 1991). This second solution has been of particular interest because, if the strings move fast enough, at nearly the speed of light, time travel to the past can occur. His paper with Li-Xin Li, "Can the Universe Create Itself?" explores the idea of how the laws of physics may permit the universe to be its own mother. His book "Time Travel in Einstein's Universe" was selected by Booklist as one of four "Editors' Choice" science books for 2001. He has published papers on map projections in Cartographica.

His picture has appeared in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. He wrote an article on time travel for Time magazine as part of its cover story on the future (April 10, 2000). His and Mario Juric's Map of the Universe appeared in the New York Times (January 13, 2004), New Scientist, and Astronomy. Gott and Juric are in Guinness World Records 2006 and 2011 for finding the largest structure in the universe: the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies (1.37 billion light years long). Gott's Copernican argument for space colonization was the subject of an article in the New York Times (July 17, 2007).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Khemprof TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time written by J. Richard Gott is a very well-written book about time travel and what it might consist.
This book is easily read and is a delightfully refreshing as I found for the first time that the author was the first to completely explain Einstein's theory of relativity to me and I understand it and the ramifications.
The author explains how some of the best science fiction can stimulate science fact in the world's finest scientific people. Thus, time travel has been conceived.
The book only has five chapters all of which dedeal with the subject of time travel as seen of different angles. Cosmic strings, space folding upon itself, traveling back to a past event via two cosmic strings are discussed in detail along with wormholes and warpdrive. A warpdrive creates a U-shaped distortion in the spacetime creating a shortcut.
A self-creating universe according to the author, in which the universes give birth to other universes, a time loop at the beginning allows the Universe to be its own mother. I found thiss book to be some serious mind candy... some very deep level physical philosophy... indeed.
The prose moves quickly and you will not be bored as the author drives home his insightful points one after the other. The layperson will not be lost in space reading this book, but your mind could be bent as you read this very engaging book.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Crocker on August 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
...Time to cut to the chase ['cause life is short]: I really loved Richard Gott's Time Travel In Einstein's Universe! Let's get a few things straight: this isn't New Age sewage, this isn't a book about quantum mechanics [obviously it comes up, but general and special relativity are the backstory for this volume], this is a book that will be understood by folks who like diagrams [there are plenty] AND folks who like verbal descriptions [lots of those, too], this is Richard Gott's book and he does focus on HIS ideas about time travel and other things, the author does use examples from popular culture [mainly, in the first chapter] and always to good purpose. Gott outlines ways that time travel is and might be possible. He even shows how the origin of our universe might depend on time travel. He ends the book with an exposition on his thinking on the Copernican principle [it fits - read the book and see why]. I don't want to blow the ending, but I will tell you that it has a bit of a suprise. I don't think it should come down to a choice between this book or Clifford Pickover's excellent book on time travel because both books take a different tack and both books will expand your brainpan. In my opinion, this book is tasty brainfood. Now it's....
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David Bock on August 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I heard the author of this book last weekend on NPR, and when he mentioned 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' when talking about time travel, I knew this book was for me.

The author makes the material approaching by first introducing concepts from movies you may already know. Did you know that 'Back To The future' was an example of the 'many worlds theory', while 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' was the 'one world theory'? Other movie references are made as an intro to concepts.

If it stopped there, it would be trite... But starting with a foundation that makes you feel comfortable, the author manages to explain some advanced principles of General Relativity such as time dilation, how time travel to the future is possible, if not very practical, and theories as to why time travel to the past may, and may not, be possible.

While you can't help get into philosophical discussions when pondering the possibility of going back in time, that is not the point of this book - the book is rooted in real science.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. Muchow on May 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book stands out from the now-ubiquitous books on quantum physics in several ways. First, it establishes a link between the science of quantum physics and the effect it has had on popular culture. It uses this as a jumping-off point for discussing some rather odd predictions of current theory, then delves into more detail than most similar books on why these predictions exist. The math is fairly easy to understand, and the book presents one of the most lucid explanations of the various states of vacuum and the possible geometries of space-time. The cover illustration is actually a 2-D model for a multidimensional concept that the author holds off until the end (and it is worth the wait), providing rare suspense to an otherwise dry topic.
Provocative, though it stops just short of the neo-Taoist theosophy of _The Dancing Wu Li Masters_ and _The Tao of Physics_. You will enjoy, I promise! Also in Discover Magazine's list of recommended reading.
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51 of 64 people found the following review helpful By "hsolo2001" on July 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What always bugs me about a new book is the "Praise for" on the dust jacket, usually written by another author, or friend of the author, or someone who has close dealings with the author. I read them critically and usually shun them. Alas, this book has three of them! Beware!
I didn't like this book for three main reasons. First, Gott acknowledges that he is a right-hemisphere brain type, one who finds diagrams more compelling than verbal descriptions, yet sorely ignores this in spades in the book. He relies on rather verbose descriptions, instead of supplementing them with a few more well-placed diagrams on several of his descriptions. The second reason for not liking this book is the author's apparent egoism. There are a few instances where the explanations of his findings are tertiary to how he made them, or how he boasted about them, or how he appeared in magazines, etc. That's fine for some, but I would have liked those wordy texts and pages substituted with a deeper understanding of the finding. The third reason is the style of writing, It isn't inspiring and it doesn't come alive. In a few cases Gott prefers to describe in detail the plot of movies related to time travel! Again, I would have liked those pages to be filled up with diagrams for the above examples, instead of reading about movies like Back to the Future.
Overall, it had little impact on my understanding of Time Travel, and I would direct the reader to Clifford Pickover's Time: A Traveller's Guide. Pickover's book is well written, chock full of diagrams for the right-hemisphere brain types, compelling and interesting even for those who aren't afraid of a few formulae. Pickover's Time: A Traveller's Guide is HIGHLY recommended.
Now, I only wish I had a time machine to prevent me from having bought Gott's Time Travel in Einstein's Universe, and other dumb actions I made!
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