on August 6, 2001
...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....
on August 9, 2004
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.
on May 14, 2001
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.
on January 27, 2004
I'm in the middle of reading this book and it is AWESOME. Gott does a great job writing and addresses both visual and non-visual learners. I would recommend it for anyone interested in physics and/or astronomy. Even half way through I understand much more than I did before starting. I'm in fifth grade and nobody but me in my class understands it (but, as you probably know, I'm not the average fifth grader). It is the best non-fiction book I've ever read and I hope you read it too!
on July 20, 2001
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!
on November 20, 2005
WOW! On just about every page there was some interesting fact or concept that just blew my mind! As other reviewers have already stated, this book is a faily easy read on a VERY deep, and potentially confusing subject.
I shopped around for a long time to find a book on this subject that was readable and understandable by someone who was not a physicist and not a fan of looking at crazy math equations.
I highly reccomend this book to anyone who wants to get their world rocked and learn some cool stuff.
on February 16, 2003
Time Travel in Einstein's Universe by J. Richard Gott is an amazing book. It's not an easy read, however, at least not for me. I'm not a math-physics type, so I had to take time to understand some of the complex concepts discussed. It was definitely worth it.
Gott, a professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, discusses almost every aspect of time travel, including what time is and why it seems to be unidirectional. He also covers the origin of the universe and what might have happened "before" it came into being, including oscillating universes, de Sitter spacetime, bubble universes, self creating universes, and universes tunneling from nothing. Most intriguing was the possibility that universes might be created like test-tube babies in a lab by supercivilizations. According to the author, by compressing a mass into an extremely high density black hole, "occasionally it would branch off by quantum tunneling to create a baby universe hidden inside the black hole. This branch could grow up to a large size without interfering with the lab (the trunk universe) (p. 191)." The possibility of a multiverse is also examined, as are alternative realities.
Probably the most interesting part of the book for me was the final chapter, Report from the Future. Here the author uses the Copernican principle to predict various events. I have to admit, however, that by allowing himself a 95% range he makes his predictions pretty close to inescapable in some instances. For instance, he predicts the future longevity of the internet based upon a start date of 1969 as being more than 9 months (this prediction was made in 2001, so it has already exceeded the low end prediction) but less than 1,209 years! Those are pretty safe odds!
Still, his extension of that principle to an analysis of our future as a species and of the character of life elsewhere is an interesting one. He points out that as he-or you or I-are not "special" in the scheme of things (any more than the earth is the center of the solar system, the sun the center of the galaxy or the galaxy the center of the universe), our time and its character are not likely to be special either. In short, whatever is examined should have a great likelihood of being the norm or average condition for that trait. The assumptions that he draws from this premise are truly impressive. For instance, since we are intelligent observers, if we apply the Copernican principle and assume that we are not special much can be said. He writes, "You should expect to live in an epoch of the universe in which the population of intelligent observers is high because most intelligent observers would live in such an epoch (p. 237)." He notes that the answer to Fermi's famous question about extraterrestrials, "Where are they?" would be that they "must still be sitting on their home planet, just like you; otherwise you would be special. Simple (p. 237)." With respect to the time in which the reader lives, he writes, "A graph of the population history of our species might...show low levels during its initial hunter-gather phase, then a brief spike to 12 billion because of civilization, followed by a crash back to hunter-gatherer levels. You expect to live in the spike because most people will (p. 224)." In short, you have little likelihood of living at either the beginning or the end of human culture, because most of the people who have ever lived are living now.
Though it's not an easy book to understand, it's still a very engaging work.
on February 8, 2006
Gott explores the current possibilities for actual time travel in light of current physics and quantum mechanics. He summarizes the history of quantum physics, as providing insights into the concepts of time. This branch of science has probed the possibility of wormholes and other perturbations of Spacetime that might allow time travel.
Gott reports on various experiments and lines of enquiry by various physicists, such as Kip Thorne, who have investigated time, practical factors in time relationships and travel into the future or past. The concepts of relativity and warp speed (speed of light) come into view here.
Recent thought from theoretical physics is analyzed along with experimental science. Gott correlates various areas of current enquiry, including a rich survey of the contributions science fiction has made to actual enquiry in quantum physics.
This fascinating book does get technical at points. This is not dull reading. But it is rich and deserves your attention. It is good, readable prose with solid science throughout, written with a pleasant lilt. Overall it is not a hard read.
Gott lays out the primary considerations and logical problems involved in considering the practical problems of time travel. The realities of limitations in the physical universe are laid out as he clarifies the possibilities and the manner in which time travel can be understood and implemented and for what particular purposes.
You'll find here the sense of adventure that we all like to experience. Gott expresses energy and excitement as he leads us down the path of exploration of possibility and probability in the dynamic realm of Time.
on October 2, 2001
Books on tachyonic time travellers,
time machines, wormholes in the fabric of
space and time, black hole bounces etc. tends to get
my attention. And J. Richard Gotts book delivers.
But more exciting spacetime geometries with time travel
possibilities and more on the theory of general relativity
itself would have improved the book.
I really got into it right from the start
with its brilliant interpretation of
special relativity theory. Here special relativity
isn't murky waters explained to you by
pretentious professors. Instead it is straight forward
stuff, and its puzzles are there for all to see.
After seeing his presentation of special relativity
I don't really understand what all the other presentations
was all about, except layers of confusion.
General Relativity is almost equally easy in
Gotts hands. Ten mathematical objects, called
tensors, informs you how spacetime is curved based on
mass energy density, pressure, etc.
With these tools comes various suggestions
for constructing a timemachine. Despite the enormity of
some of these constructions (dragging
your medium star a couple of lightyears away from its current
position seems almost trivial in comparison)
Gott tells about it all in a matter of fact way
that makes you believe that it could actually
Still, I think he could have explored
the theory of general relativity itself
more, even within the framework
of a popular science book.
After a trip to the distant past
of the universe Gott obviously
wants to reflect on the future as well. I don't
particular buy into his arguments here,
and would rather have heard some more about
the time machines. Still, all in all the book is a
on January 9, 2002
Professor of Astrophysics Gott of Princeton discusses one of the most creative ideas concerning the universe, time, time travel. In following him and his Ph.D. student Li-Xin Li, we read in amazingly clear language about the latest research in astrophysics and the physics of the universe (cosmology), including string theory, inflation, chaotic inflation, budding universes with and without time loops, and the older origin of these theories with Wheeler and Feynman of Princeton and their split wave advanced-retarded theory which explained quantum strangeness and the strange results of double slit diffraction experiments which seem to indicate that light "knows" the open vs closed path that lies ahead of it. In this, they carry atrophysicist Gribbin's (of Cambridge University) popular books much further. Part of the combined universes in Gott's picture appear finite like an endless circle or sphere that one can go around continually with a backwards time loop, although later universes may lack such loops....