- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142001864
- ISBN-13: 978-0142001868
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"An entertaining tour around a fascinating topic, conducted by a world-class physicist" - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Paul Davies is an internationally acclaimed theoretical physicist and the author of God and the New Physics, The Mind of God, and many other popular books. In 1995 he won the prestigious Templeton Prize for his work on the philosophical meaning of science and was recently awarded the Kelvin Medal by the UK Institute of Physics. Davies lives in Australia and frequently travels, teaches, and lectures in the United States.
Top customer reviews
arranged into short sections, HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE
explains the basic theories of time travel and then explores
what means are required to achieve it. Paul Davies makes the
strongest and, it would seem, irrefutable case for time travel
into the future. But such "travel," based on Einstein's special
theory of relativity, which distinguishes a "time-dilation
factor" between two bodies moving at different speeds, is more
like an exchange of times: a spaceship leaves Earth and
approaches the speed of light; then it returns and the crew find
that Earth has aged seven times faster than they have. They
have avoided the standard speed of time on Earth, but still have
aged by their spaceship time. Arriving, say, a hundred years
"in the future," they resume their normal rate of aging on
Earth, having turned themselves into visitors (or relics) from
the past. But they have not escaped time.
The big question is whether they can go back--back to the year
of their departure. Davies thinks they can. The best of
conceivable methods, he determines, is the wormhole, a
theoretical entity that links one space/time in the universe
with another. Somehow he imagines that it could be managed by
human beings on Earth who want to travel from the present into
the past. He doesn't trouble much over such questions as where
one end of a natural wormhole would be, where the other, how
people would get to one, and where the hell would they be when
they came out the other, but rather embarks with great gusto
on drawing up plans for building a serviceable wormhole
right at home.
Sliding cheerfully through "spacetime foam," "antigravity," "the
chronology horizon" and other such slippery concepts, he finally
focuses on the project of opening up the throat of his wormhole
in the interstices of space and keeping it open so that anyone
who enters it is not instantly "spaghettified" by a crushing
singularity. How this project differs from counting the number
of angels on the head of a pin is obvious: it is much more dif-
ficult and much more scientific. Davies pursues it in good
humor, and to his credit does not avoid the mechanical
difficulties. To open a wormhole, he calculates, you would need
either an accelerator as large as the solar system or so much
"negative energy" that it would take more time than the age of
the universe to produce it. No matter, he concludes, science
will get better and the job will someday get done.
So much optimism, such high spirits! You can't dislike this
book! Sober reasoning, of course, reminds you that time is not
a thing that you can visit, like walking forward toward a
mountain or back toward town. Time is the relationship between
things that change. And so if you want to go back to things in
a previous state, all those things would have to reverse their
accrued changes simultaneously: water would rush back upstream,
corpses would rise out up of the ground, buildings would be
unbuilt. But Davies and other theorists of time travel do not
have such a past in mind. Rather, they assume that there is a
historical continuum, a sort of museum of history that preserves
every change in the universe in a long static hallway, and the
successful time traveller will be able to go back and visit any
room he chooses. How you get from our changing world to the
fixed continuum, historical museum or alternate universe is a
problem they never consider, because such a past does not exist.
And so they prefer to play with intellectual games like "the
twins paradox," "the mother paradox," and so on; even Stephen
Hawking indulges in them. Final verdict: If you want to take
pleasure in wormholes, go ahead: this is the perfect book.
It's when the scientists start to request millions of dollars to
build them that we should draw the line.
He discusses the mechanical and mathematical possibilities of moving between points in times, reflecting on principles and implications in the Theory of Relativity. He discusses worm holes and how to create and control them, using anti-gravity, negative energy and time dilation.
He goes through the known steps necessary to create a time dilation by connecting one point of time in relation to a certain spatial location to different time conditions in another spatial location. This involves, of course, reflections on light speed and the physical and practical limitations involved in the state of the universes as we know it.
This is fascinating reading, with both feet planted firmly on terra firma, but with the mind probing the depths and breadths of existence and possibilities within the laws of physics! Stimulating!