The thought that humans might one day be able to harness time, traveling freely from one age to another, has been a fixture of science fiction for years. Science fact is beginning to catch up to the long-held dream: in this entertaining survey, researcher-writer Clifford Pickover observes that current theories of physics support--or at least do not rule out--the possibilities of time travel.
In chapters that mix whimsical science-fiction scenarios with brief essays on matters of fact, Pickover takes a leisurely stroll through various chrono-cosmological theories and discusses their attendant virtues, flaws, and inherent paradoxes. One modern notion, Kurt Gödel's addendum to Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, posits a rotating universe in which it is possible for a traveler to move between states of time and return to the present (assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as the present); the theory depends on a universe that rotates slowly, which seems not to be the case, but, as Pickover points out, it nevertheless provides a mathematical basis for time travel--which, he suggests, is a fine and worthy start. Pickover peppers his well-illustrated text with learned asides on such matters as light-cone diagrams, rocket clocks, string theory, parallel universes, and other topics real and speculative. What he turns up in the course of his narrative is fascinating--and fuel for anyone who entertains dreams of interdimensional wandering. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
If you thought time travel was just for science fiction nuts, think again. As Pickover (Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide) demonstrates, time travel is not the stuff of Asimovian dreams, it being theoretically possible. Of course, how to travel through time is no simple matter, nor is explaining it, but Pickover rises to the challenge in many ways. Witty and profound quotations?from Einstein to Woody Allen?about time and our relationship to it are liberally scattered throughout. Pickover's masterstroke, however, is to divide each chapter into two sections. The first is a second-person narration recording the impromptu discussions about time-travel of a Chopin-obsessed curator from a Museum of Music with his assistant, "a Zetamorph, a member of a race of philosophers from a subterranean air pocket on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter" and with a female earthling student. The second section, dutifully labeled "The Science behind the Science Fiction," is a sober essayistic review of topics addressed in the narrative half. Despite the popular tone, Pickover does not shy away from the mathematics of time travel. (He even includes an appendix of programmable algorithms.) A careful reader with some basic science should be able to follow Pickover chapter by chapter (and truthfully, some of the formulas can be skimmed). The imaginative and humorous approach makes a difficult subject palatable?and gives a plug for Chopin at the same time.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.