How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel

Overview

A pop science look at time travel technology, from Einstein to Ronald Mallett to present day experiments. Forget fiction: time travel is real.

In How to Build a Time Machine, Brian Clegg provides an understanding of what time is and how it can be manipulated. He explores the fascinating world of physics and the remarkable possibilities of real time travel that emerge from quantum entanglement, superluminal speeds, neutron star cylinders and wormholes in space. With the ...

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How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel

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Overview

A pop science look at time travel technology, from Einstein to Ronald Mallett to present day experiments. Forget fiction: time travel is real.

In How to Build a Time Machine, Brian Clegg provides an understanding of what time is and how it can be manipulated. He explores the fascinating world of physics and the remarkable possibilities of real time travel that emerge from quantum entanglement, superluminal speeds, neutron star cylinders and wormholes in space. With the fascinating paradoxes of time travel echoing in our minds will we realize that travel into the future might never be possible? Or will we realize there is no limit on what can be achieved, and take on this ultimate challenge? Only time will tell.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With an eye to making science interesting and understandable, Clegg (Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window; Before the Big Bang: The Prehistory of the Universe) continues to craft accessible works out of difficult topics, in this case the nature of time. No, readers will not find step-by-step instructions for creating their own TARDIS, but via Clegg's fantastic overview of the history of our study of the science and nature of time, they can better appreciate the obstacles to sending humans back and forth through a chronology. These problems notwithstanding, Clegg reminds us of how much humans have accomplished in the science so far and of the many things once thought unimaginable that are now part of everyday life. VERDICT An engaging read, highly recommended for the armchair physicist of the Michio Kaku school of popular science. Clegg excels at making science accessible.—Rachel M. Minkin, Michigan State Univ. Libs., Lansing
Kirkus Reviews

Not quite a how-to, but a survey of the science behind time travel--if anyone ever invents it.

British pop-science writer Clegg (Inflight Science: A Guide to the World From Your Airplane Window, 2011, etc.) notes that time travel is not just a trope of science fiction any more. Increasingly, serious physicists accept that travel to the future and back, or to the past and back, is theoretically possible. The laws of physics provide a few interesting options, and examining them provides an opportunity to look at some interesting corners of modern science. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity describe how motion and gravity affect objects and people. Movement at high speeds, or in powerful gravity fields, changes the rate at which time flows. GPS systems have to adjust for discrepancies between clocks in orbit and those on the ground. These effects can slow time down so travelers can visit distant futures without living through all the years between. Of course, there are problems with these theories: Gravitational fields strong enough to slow time also create tidal forces that can rip matter apart. Other theoretically feasible methods of time travel require building structures such as cylinders of infinite length--hardly a practical option. Clegg also dissects schemes such as going into the past and playing the stock market armed with foreknowledge of what will rise or fall. He covers most of the themes advanced by science fiction, plus some of the more adventurous scientific minds, generally avoiding math or tricky technical details.

A solid overview of some of the quirkier corners of physics, with an entertaining connection to pop culture.

From the Publisher

"In ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ we start each chapter with an affirmation; ‘Yes, time travel is possible …’.  There’s clarification, ‘ifs’, often detailed historic references; consequences; and then the practicalities – at which point you might have the feeling that it’s not possible after all.  But then there’s the ‘Or is it?’, and one cannot but take the bait and turn the page (loop). To name but a few, what does the following have to do with time-travel?: near-light speed travel; an infinitely long cylinder built from dust - or a less ambitious one (!) built from Neutron stars; Wormholes; Paradoxes; Black/White Holes; Antimatter;  Dark Energy…?  If you’re like me when presented with such a list - appetite whet to the point of drooling - this is a book written with you in mind!  One last and very important point: Clegg is both a writer and a Physicist; and it’s as a writer – one who is able to communicate physics to the non-specialist – and that makes this book so very enjoyable.  The hard stuff is there; between the lines; but we’re not asked to deal with it – Clegg leads us through, in his own imitable style! There are just two equations: Einstein’s E=MC2 (of course!), and Maxwell’s – the latter because they’re so “beautifully spare and simple looking”. Perfect."  - Dr. Peet Morris of Oxford University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312656881
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/6/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,405,942
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

BRIAN CLEGG holds a physics degree from Cambridge and has written regular columns, features, and reviews for numerous magazines. He lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and two children.

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