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Time: A Traveler's Guide
     

Time: A Traveler's Guide

by Clifford A. Pickover
 

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"Bucky Fuller thought big," Wired magazine recently noted, "Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." In his newest book, Cliff Pickover outdoes even himself, probing a mystery that has baffled mystics, philosophers, and scientists throughout history--What is the nature of time? In Time: A Traveler's Guide, Pickover takes

Overview

"Bucky Fuller thought big," Wired magazine recently noted, "Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." In his newest book, Cliff Pickover outdoes even himself, probing a mystery that has baffled mystics, philosophers, and scientists throughout history--What is the nature of time? In Time: A Traveler's Guide, Pickover takes readers to the forefront of science as he illuminates the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe--time itself. Is time travel possible? Is time real? Does it flow in one direction only? Does it have a beginning and an end? What is eternity? Pickover's book offers a stimulating blend of Chopin, philosophy, Einstein, and modern physics, spiced with diverting side-trips to such topics as the history of clocks, the nature of free will, and the reason gold glitters. Numerous diagrams ensure readers will have no trouble following along. By the time we finish this book, we understand a wide variety of scientific concepts pertaining to time. And most important, we will understand that time travel is, indeed, possible.

Editorial Reviews

Ian Stewart
Now the irrepressible and prolific Clifford Pickover gives us Time: A Traveler's Guide. He romps joyously through at least four perfectly respectable scientific routes to time travel: relativity, particle physics, quantum mechanics and psychology.
New Scientis
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.
Karl Giberson
What the book is really about is Einstein's theory of relativity, particularly those aspects that touch on time....only the latest in a long series of attempts to explain relativity to nonscientists. -- Books & Cuture: A Christian Review
Wired
Bucky Fuller thought big. Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both.
Kirkus Reviews
A playful introduction to modern physics from a Discovery magazine columnist. Pickover frames his discussion of time in a didactic science-fictional tale (told somewhat clumsily in the second person) set a few decades in the future and featuring an alien philosopher named Mr. Veil, who is your assistant at the Museum of Music. In order to travel backward in time to enjoy the piano playing of Chopin (whose music functions as a leitmotif here), you must instruct Veil in the nature of time and space, particularly Einstein's Relativity Theory. Veil performs simple experiments using futuristic hardware to demonstrate the key issues: the subjective nature of "now," the flexibility of time and space in systems in motion relative to one another, and the speed of light as an invariable. After each brief chunk of story, the text steps back to examine "the science behind the science fiction" in a more straightforwardly didactic manner. Pickover encourages the reader to approach the material in an interactive way, offering computer programs (in BASIC) to calculate some of the quantities discussed. Frequent references to popular sci-fi movies and stories make the concepts even more accessible to readers. After the by-now well-worn subject of relativity is sufficiently explained, the latter chapters discuss the possibility of real time travel, using such speculative techniques as wormholes (caused by the enormous gravitation of black holes) and giant rotating cylinders. Along the way, Pickover looks at the broader philosophical implications of time travel, especially in relation to the paradoxes involving causality and the immutability of the past. While much of this is familiar to sci-fifans and followers of popular science, the basic principles are clearly explained, and the shift from the framing story to straight exposition is not too abrupt. In spite of the overly cute narrative form, this could serve as an entertaining introduction to modern scientific principles for bright students as well as adults.

From the Publisher

"Pickover...stretches the limits of computers, art, and thought."--Los Angeles Times

"Only Clifford Pickover would think of mixing time travel and music. Gripping, clear -- this book could well be his best yet! A must buy for all wannabe time travelers."-- Ian Stewart, Scientific American

"The irrepressible and prolific Clifford Pickover... romps joyously through at least four perfectly respectable scientific routes to time travel: relatively, particle physics, quantum mechanics and psychology."--New Scientist

"How to travel through time is no simple matter, nor is explaining it, but Pickover rises to the challenge in many ways....The imaginative and humorous approach makes a difficult subject palatable."--Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199929924
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
09/23/1999
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
8 MB

What People are Saying About This

Ian Stewart
A must buy for all wannabe time travelers!

Meet the Author

Clifford A. Pickover is Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. An associate editor of several journals, prolific inventor, and puzzle columnist for magazines such as Discover, Pickover is the author of many bestselling books on popular science topics. He lives in Yorktown Heights, New York.

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