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Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1563963711
ISBN-10: 156396371X
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Editorial Reviews


"The first edition of Paul Nahin's book was the most thorough compendium ever written on time travel... This second edition of Nahin's book has been revised accordingly. It now is not only the most complete documentation of time travel in science fiction, it is also the most thorough review of serious scientific literature on the subject - a review that, remarkably, is scientifically accurate and at the same time largely accessible to a broad audience of non-specialists. In browsing this revised edition, I have been struck by the richness and complexity of the tapestry of ideas that Nahin presents... Nahin's book may well remain the most readable and complete treatise on time travel in science and science fiction." - KIP S. THORNE, CALTECH" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paul J. Nahin is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire. He is the best-selling author of many popular-math books, including "Duelling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers", "The Logician and the Engineer", "Number-Crunching", "Mrs. Perkins s Electric Quilt", and "An Imaginary Tale" (all Princeton). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Amer Inst of Physics (September 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156396371X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563963711
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
People have long been fascinated with the idea of time travel. The possibilities are exciting -- you could go back in time and experience firsthand all the wonders of history. You could actually get a second chance to correct mistakes in your own life. To some these possibilities are frightening -- if you really can change the past, what does this do to our sense of continuity? To history? What if you went back and killed your own father before he even met your mother?

Paul J. Nahin discusses both sides of this issue in his thought provoking book Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction. He begins with an overview of time travel, from scientific possibility of it, to popular conjecture about it. He goes on to discuss the nature of time itself, and then ends with an in-depth analysis of paradoxes created by the possibility of time travel. He assures us that we do not have to worry about changing history, because the past cannot be changed.

Nahin has written an excellent book for the layperson. He includes many references to popular works of science fiction, including many stories and movies the reader is probably familiar with. This helps illustrate many of his points. The text is clear and well written. Anyone without a background in physics can understand this book. For those with a more technical bent Nahin includes a few "Tech Notes" at the end of the book to explain certain phenomena he discusses. Time Machines is an exciting book for anyone who has ever sat outside on a long summer night and wondered "what if."
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Format: Hardcover
I am no scientist, that's for certain.
This book is a wonderful blend of science and science fiction. It is perfect for people like me, who are fascinated by the idea of time travel but can't understand math or physics for anything. The first few chapters are basically a literature review. An extremely comprehensive literature review. It'll be enough to make you run to your library or bookstore (or computer) in search of these books and short stories.
Nahin also discusses the reality behind time travel with relatively little math. Most of the math is tucked away in the "Tech Notes in the back of the book. Nice technique to sucker in the math-scaredys like me.
What I really loved about the book, though is Nahin's enthusiasm. He is obviously just as nuts (or more) as I am about this outlandish subject of time travel, which makes the book, in my opinion, stand-out.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a good introduction to some of the science fiction and science fact speculations concerning the possibility of time travel. It considers time travel from early science fiction speculations (e.g. H. G. Wells' _Time Machine_) to modern science speculations involving quantum mechanics, faster-than-light tachyons, and wormholes. From the classic speculations involving General Relativity of Kurt Godel and his rotating universe, to the modern speculations of Kip Thorne involving the use of wormholes to travel backwards in time, the science of time travel is made clear to the lay person. Philosophical speculation with regards to the metaphysics of time is dealt with fully. The apparent paradoxes of time travel (backwards in time) (e.g. the "grandfather paradox") are considered and possible resolutions to them are proposed. In the end, the reader is left to decide for himself whether time travel is: 1. possible, and 2. feasible (at whatever level of technological advancement). According to Stephen Hawking, the fact that we haven't been visited by time travelling tourists is evidence against the possibility of backwards in time, time travel. I myself do not believe this to be the case and think that there is some other reason for the apparent absence of time travellers. For those of us who boldly wonder about the possibilities of man's future evolution, future technological progress, and future civilization, the issue of time travel is an unavoidable and a tempting one. If man is to ever conquer the galaxy, he must conquer time first. It must be possible - it will be possible! This book is an appeal to dreamers and speculative philosophers to examine fully the issues, paradoxes, and proposed methods of time travel.
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By A Customer on October 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book just proves that there are things out there that we dont know, and that we should be figuring it out. Before reading this book I thought time travel was virtually impossible, but after reading it I knew that there is a way to do this we just need to try and figure out the mysteries. All in all this books is by FAR the greatest book on time travel yet.
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Format: Hardcover
The past can be affected but not changed.

This seems to be the moral of this little book from science fiction write Paul Nahin. And, unlike many others who've attempted to talk about time in a serious way, Nahin is all too ready to show readers that he's done his homework.

In four (blink and you'll miss it) sections Nahin takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the issues involved in time travel:

1) An overview of time travel. In this section Nahin samples time travel stories of the ages. While doing so, he introduces readers to some of the more pertinent time travel issues serious thinkers have raised about the topic. One such example is if time travel is real, where are all the travelers? While admitting the serious nature of the question and its implications Nahin also provides readers with possible responses to it (for example, the time machines don't reach back to our era). Another example of serious issues raised is a treatment by Princeton mathematician Kurt Godel who -- using Einstein's own equations -- came up with a solution for them which actually allows time travel. (The good news for time travel fans is that Einstein approved of the solution. The bad news is that it requires our universe to possess physical charactistics it lacks.)

2) On the nature of time, spacetime and the fouth dimension. In this section Nahin discusses hoary questions like what is time? Is time real? And what does it physically consist of? This section is a perfect case in point to the cursory nature with which Nahin treats some of these issues. As to the matters raised in this chapter alone I would refer readers to Michio Kaku's very excellent Hyperspace PRIOR to reading this section.
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