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Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time

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In this fascinating book, the renowned astrophysicist J. Richard Gott leads time travel out of the world of H. G. Wells and into the realm of scientific possibility. Building on theories posited by Einstein and advanced by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Gott explains how time travel can actually occur. He describes, with boundless enthusiasm and humor, In this fascinating book, the renowned astrophysicist J. Richard Gott leads time travel out of the world of H. G. Wells and into the realm of scientific possibility. Building on theories posited by Einstein and advanced by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Gott explains how time travel can actually occur. He describes, with boundless enthusiasm and humor, how travel to the future is not only possible but has already happened, and he contemplates whether travel to the past is also conceivable. Notable not only for its extraordinary subject matter and scientific brilliance, Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe is a delightful and captivating exploration of the surprising facts behind the science fiction of time travel.


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In this fascinating book, the renowned astrophysicist J. Richard Gott leads time travel out of the world of H. G. Wells and into the realm of scientific possibility. Building on theories posited by Einstein and advanced by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Gott explains how time travel can actually occur. He describes, with boundless enthusiasm and humor, In this fascinating book, the renowned astrophysicist J. Richard Gott leads time travel out of the world of H. G. Wells and into the realm of scientific possibility. Building on theories posited by Einstein and advanced by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Gott explains how time travel can actually occur. He describes, with boundless enthusiasm and humor, how travel to the future is not only possible but has already happened, and he contemplates whether travel to the past is also conceivable. Notable not only for its extraordinary subject matter and scientific brilliance, Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe is a delightful and captivating exploration of the surprising facts behind the science fiction of time travel.

30 review for Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    B Haze

    I read this book and I need to re-read it again. This is one of those books that after you read it the first time, you are completely enlightened. You know you probably missed some important details so when you read it a second time, everything you missed pops out at you. For anybody really wanting to understand the different theories behind time travel, this book is for you. There were times when I just sat and pondered about what I just read for about an hour.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Sills

    No book is without its charm although this one comes pretty close. Granted, diehard and gullible enthusiasts of space travel no doubt think differently but for the more skeptical they will find little worthwhile here except a gift for explaining the theory of relativity--both special and general relativity--with clarity and simplicity that few can and thus the latter part of the fourth chapter makes the book worthy of the purchase. For those seeking a book that will advocate the resumption of sp No book is without its charm although this one comes pretty close. Granted, diehard and gullible enthusiasts of space travel no doubt think differently but for the more skeptical they will find little worthwhile here except a gift for explaining the theory of relativity--both special and general relativity--with clarity and simplicity that few can and thus the latter part of the fourth chapter makes the book worthy of the purchase. For those seeking a book that will advocate the resumption of space travel to secure the longevity of the human race as this one does in the last chapter it can be imagined that more thoughtful explanations of the benefits of such exploration are to be found. Likewise, those who want to believe that time travel has any realistic basis will be sorely disappointed. Instead, one will find competitive Gott, cape crusader with his friend Li Xin Li (the former you can, to use an epithet, call batman and the latter Robin) writing a book to lay claim of some very speculative theories. There is one in which Gott, so eager to be the next Newton of time travel, deals with orbiting two cosmic strings that will lead one to the past--Gott himself wants full acclaim as the inventor of this idea. The other, his magnum opus which he shares with his counterpart Robin is figuring out the fact that there will be no explosion if one quickly accelerates in and out of the doors of Misner space, and thus one is now free to leap into time with this. Well I am busy today but I will definitely do it tomorrow. Oh yes, the cape crusaders shook hands with each other in their zeal at finding this an achievable goal. You can learn about their flourishing relationship in the content of this book. Yes the book does explore half a dozen other ways to go into the future and past such as the plausibility of engineering wormholes but frankly it is not worth ones time. The reality is that talk of time travel is an absurdity for a world that has done little that is remarkable beyond flight travel to the moon. We are in the stone ages and yet astrophysists are making mathematical formulas of scenarios that will be implausible even hundreds of years into the future at best and seeking acclaim for it. It has little sense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michal Jan Warecki

    We instinctively know what time travel is, but how would you define it in physical terms? How is time travel to the past different from time travel to the future? And does it fit in our universe? If not, how can we know about the future? Author tries to answer these questions in a graphic way, and he succeeds! The book also takes a suprising turn towards the end, making it an extra satisfying read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rinad Hammad

    traveling through time is just a technological problem .... after reading this book you will realize that there are way more methods to travel through time than you have ever thought ...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I enjoyed this book about the physics of time travel, although at times I felt like the author was dealing with some pretty speculative stuff and presenting it pretty confidently as fact. For instance, he describes a method of creating a "time machine" that would, in theory, allow a spaceship to reach a destination faster than light. To set up the process, you position two cosmic strings of infinite length near each other. Oh, is that all I need? Two cosmic strings of infinite length. Let me chec I enjoyed this book about the physics of time travel, although at times I felt like the author was dealing with some pretty speculative stuff and presenting it pretty confidently as fact. For instance, he describes a method of creating a "time machine" that would, in theory, allow a spaceship to reach a destination faster than light. To set up the process, you position two cosmic strings of infinite length near each other. Oh, is that all I need? Two cosmic strings of infinite length. Let me check in the basement for those. Meanwhile, I will continue with my money making plan of finding a magical goblin that craps Fabergé eggs. In another section of the book, there is a lengthy discussion about predicting the duration of things (like lives, or civilizations, or planets) based on probability and the idea that we're not at some "special" point in time (like the Copernican view that Earth doesn't occupy a "special" place in the cosmos). This method allows the author to predict that, for example, the United States is likely to exist for a duration of somewhere between 5.7 years and 8736 years. The ultimate point of describing this method of predicting the future is to exhort people to invest resources into the space program, with the goal in mind of colonizing space, in order to increase the likelihood of the survival of humanity. This point I tend to agree with, although the "Copernican" method of predicting the future seems kinda sketchy. Generally, there is some good material here, particularly in the chapters related to how physics has evolved throughout history, and how our view of time has changed as a result.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Yourshaw

    This book is more than just another popular treatment of special and general relativity and quantum mechanics. Gott applies these theories to time travel in a 'not-wrong' fashion, i.e., consistently with we already know to be true. He discusses the theoretical possibility of time travel to the future and to the past (spoiler: both may be possible), and even describes the construction of time machines that do not violate the laws of physics as we now understand them (spoiler: you may need the ene This book is more than just another popular treatment of special and general relativity and quantum mechanics. Gott applies these theories to time travel in a 'not-wrong' fashion, i.e., consistently with we already know to be true. He discusses the theoretical possibility of time travel to the future and to the past (spoiler: both may be possible), and even describes the construction of time machines that do not violate the laws of physics as we now understand them (spoiler: you may need the energy of an entire galaxy). The book is entertaining and the exposition mostly clear. One could argue it's a must read for us fans of time travel fiction. Gott may take himself more seriously than you will, but it's a fun read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Professor Gott starts with the familiar paradox of a time traveler going back and killing a grandparent, adds Einstein's general theory of relativity, and walks the reader through much of current physics theory while seeking ways time travel might be permitted. Along the way, he manages to use almost no mathematics through a set of simple, expressive diagrams. An excellent popular science book!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Austin Savill

    Great book. Perfect starter book to anyone interested in time travel. It posits many of the theories and paradoxes of time travel while being quite informative. The book may be tough for some readers if not of a science background, but it has excellent metaphors that help the reader along.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ezra's mischief

    "It is the time traveler's secret" This was one of those books I thought I'd never read. I don't even recall why I started it. I mean, the idea of time travel intrigues me, sure (Thank you, Doctor). But I didn't expect it to be a good read. Get it? Well, unlike that tragically executed pun, this book was awesome. It's just so timey wimey and incredibly explained. You don't need to know rocket science or quantum mechanics to understand what JR Gott is saying. However, if you're going to get into thi "It is the time traveler's secret" This was one of those books I thought I'd never read. I don't even recall why I started it. I mean, the idea of time travel intrigues me, sure (Thank you, Doctor). But I didn't expect it to be a good read. Get it? Well, unlike that tragically executed pun, this book was awesome. It's just so timey wimey and incredibly explained. You don't need to know rocket science or quantum mechanics to understand what JR Gott is saying. However, if you're going to get into this then you better be prepared. You're gonna need pencils, paper, scissors, glue and string. Yeah. STRING. STRAAAAAAAINGG. It's really kind of cool how time travel does seem possible, but what's even cooler is how a guy with a degree in astrophysics managed to dumb it down enough for me to understand while making it a snooze-fest. Basically, just read this book, because there is no way I can explain any of it as well as if you read it yourself. And read it if you want to know the time traveler's secret. It's a pretty good one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

    Even though reading this book was a chore for me, I wouldn't have rated it this low before reading the section about predictions for the future. In previous sections of the book, I was interested in what was being said and learned some new things about quantum theory. The section about the beginning of the universe (the second to last section) was the main reason this book was a chore to read. I will be the first to admit that maybe I should have just skipped this section - I am not so much of a Even though reading this book was a chore for me, I wouldn't have rated it this low before reading the section about predictions for the future. In previous sections of the book, I was interested in what was being said and learned some new things about quantum theory. The section about the beginning of the universe (the second to last section) was the main reason this book was a chore to read. I will be the first to admit that maybe I should have just skipped this section - I am not so much of a science or math person, but I understood it just enough to try to get through it. (This was a mistake. I didn't have fun.) Even with this section, I would not have rated the book much lower. However, the last section was maddening. Gott provided estimates for the longevity of things, sure, but the estimates were so broad as to be completely obvious. Yes, there's a 95% chance the United States will not last until the year 10736. I could have told you as much without using a lick of math. If you make a broad enough range for how long something will last, of course you're bound to be right. I think you're better served by my pet theory that you're 100% likely to either die or not die tomorrow. Was this section put in entirely to annoy the hell out of me??

  11. 5 out of 5

    Edward Taylor

    I really enjoyed the fresh take on what can sometimes be a dull and dry subject. J. Richard Gott III serves up humor, down to earth (for astrophysics) explanations and examples of what makes up not only the theories of time travel but what has been proven over the most recent decades about such. From Wells' The Time Machine to Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov's self-consistency principles, we see how the idea of going back and forth through time has not only captured our imagination but has held strong I really enjoyed the fresh take on what can sometimes be a dull and dry subject. J. Richard Gott III serves up humor, down to earth (for astrophysics) explanations and examples of what makes up not only the theories of time travel but what has been proven over the most recent decades about such. From Wells' The Time Machine to Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov's self-consistency principles, we see how the idea of going back and forth through time has not only captured our imagination but has held strong for centuries. Will it ever be a reality? Maybe it already is... :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    This is a very good book on physics and time travel by somebody who has written a lot of influential papers on the subject. The beginning is very witty and frames the questions through the use of time travel in fiction and film but then it quickly delves into hard science. Early chapters will just be a review of Einstein for many people, but the later chapters are filled with interesting ideas that I wasn't really familiar with. I think the lst chapter, which is about predicting the future, rea This is a very good book on physics and time travel by somebody who has written a lot of influential papers on the subject. The beginning is very witty and frames the questions through the use of time travel in fiction and film but then it quickly delves into hard science. Early chapters will just be a review of Einstein for many people, but the later chapters are filled with interesting ideas that I wasn't really familiar with. I think the lst chapter, which is about predicting the future, really doesn't belong in this book, but otherwise I have very few criticisms.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vegan Jon

    Really interesting stuff. Some is too complicated for me, well most, but the writer really tries to explain through diagrams, film and book examples and any other helpful antidotes. The chapter that tackles what was there BEFORE the big bang was fascinating but ultimately quantum physics and string theory lost me. Still its thrilling that people are thinking this hard about something that seems impossible....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Don Smith Jr.

    One of the two best non-fiction books I have ever read. Read it several years ago and it continues to influence my thinking. This book touched me not just intellectually, but surprisingly spiritually as well. It is one of two books I always recommend for anyone seeking a higher understanding and connection with the eternal. There truly can be a spiritual aspect to science.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan Earl

    A good read, but... This was a good read. I am not a physicist, but I was able to understand Gott's arguments well, so in that respect it was a good book, but, there were a number of formatting and spelling errors that made the reading a bit tedious in parts. If you're interested in the physics of time, then it's worth the money.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Astrid Falkenberg

    I had a bit of a difficult time reading this book, as I had to concentrate way too much. Hey, I’m no Einstein. But I do love time travel, so I stuck with it to the end and was rewarded with lots of interesting bits how time travel may be possible, about the Big Bang, the creation of the universe and the Copernican principle. Science rocks!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Reamer

    A really nice quirky overview on the possibilities of time travel from a physicist's point of view and a little history of science thrown in as well. I found it engaging and fun and easy to read and wished it would have been more in some places and less in others. If you've read Kip Thorne's books on time travel (and black holes) and enjoyed them, you'll like this one, too. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Hayden

    I had thought the book would provide interesting insight into the possibilities of time travel, which it did in a sort, but seemed to get lost in a lot of detail that made it difficult to get through.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Constance Sisson

    Good - but very technical

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    My absolute favourite science/physics book. Very involved but extremely informative. I still refer to this many years later.

  21. 4 out of 5

    W.M. Wiltshire

    Read for research for my NEXT TIME trilogy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charles Giguère

    Tha last chapter of the book is the best, until that chapter, I was going to rate it three stars, but the last chapter, on the Copernican principle, is fantastic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Frank DePascale

    This book was NOT good. When I first saw this book and read the title, I thought this was about time travel. I was WRONG! This is a book filled with the author telling us about a bunch of fictional stories and how they relate to time travel, or how impossible it is to time travel without an explanation. I was very fascinated for a little while, but when he started talking about some of his ridiculous theories, it wasn't interesting anymore. It did not seem like he knew what he was talking about This book was NOT good. When I first saw this book and read the title, I thought this was about time travel. I was WRONG! This is a book filled with the author telling us about a bunch of fictional stories and how they relate to time travel, or how impossible it is to time travel without an explanation. I was very fascinated for a little while, but when he started talking about some of his ridiculous theories, it wasn't interesting anymore. It did not seem like he knew what he was talking about at all.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sehar Moughal

    I took upon reading this book as a mental challenge and it was a challenge alright! First, I'd like to say that I have always been a huge fan of Einstein's work, however, this book convinces me that he was not just a genius but one who was determined to follow his inspiration. Gott explains into detail Einstein's three biggest ideas/theories and how they contribute to the possibility of time travel - past and future. I can imagine there'd be a few critics out there dismissing the theories in thi I took upon reading this book as a mental challenge and it was a challenge alright! First, I'd like to say that I have always been a huge fan of Einstein's work, however, this book convinces me that he was not just a genius but one who was determined to follow his inspiration. Gott explains into detail Einstein's three biggest ideas/theories and how they contribute to the possibility of time travel - past and future. I can imagine there'd be a few critics out there dismissing the theories in this book as mere speculations. I don't blame them but I cannot agree with them. Gott makes it clear time and time again, that travel through time is not a physical possibility since no matter is known to exceed the speed of light (he discusses in detail why using Einstein's theories). In saying that, he discusses a few possibilities such as wormholes, warpdrives, blackholes & quantum tunnelling of small universes. I agree that almost all of the possibilities seem farfetched such as finding a wormhole or cosmic strings of infinite length, however, this is exactly why Gott tells us that time travel is almost impossible in OUR time. Suffice to say, the content of this book makes one wonder about how insignificant we - Earth - are in the whole universe (maybe multiverse). I thoroughly enjoyed the last two chapters that dealt with the big question: how was the universe created? I don't want to spoil it for other readers but Gott's answer is definitely worth a thought (maybe many!). Gott provides many analogies to explain really difficult concepts which is exactly why I managed to finish the whole book. A caveat for those with minimum knowledge of physics/astronomy: the content tests the wheels in your brain - keep at it! It does get better as the book proceeds and you start to connect the dots. Gott does a great job referring back to diagrams and concepts as he adds new information to the pool.

  25. 5 out of 5

    April Brown

    What ages would I recommend it too? – Fourteen and up. Length? – Several days to read. Characters? – Not really. Setting? – Semi real world. Science on the scale of the largest and smallest particles. Written approximately? – 2001. Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Reading to read more theories. Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No. Short storyline: The first chapter was really good and covers many types of media (books and movies) that give examples What ages would I recommend it too? – Fourteen and up. Length? – Several days to read. Characters? – Not really. Setting? – Semi real world. Science on the scale of the largest and smallest particles. Written approximately? – 2001. Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Reading to read more theories. Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No. Short storyline: The first chapter was really good and covers many types of media (books and movies) that give examples of time travel. The second chapter talks about the possibility of time travel to the future. The third chapter pretty much decided that time travel to the past, other than within a person's own lifetime is nigh impossible, and even then, the likelihood of time travel to your own past is almost impossible. There is a lot of repetition. Some sentences are repeated dozens of times. The last chapter spouts about a future prediction theory. It could have been summed up quite well in three pages. Basically, if it has happened, it will happen. The numbers it comes up with are so unrealistic, that it's unbelievable. No individual human could live 1,250 years and still be healthy. In some ways, this theory might be useful for giant calculations - like predicting the demise of the universe. And yet, even then, the numbers seem too large to be meaningful, and are often contradicted by other science (much as theories often are). Notes for the reader: Great for a collection of literary resources for time travel to both the past and the future.

  26. 5 out of 5

    bonnie

    I can't say I understood it all. But for explaining extremely complicated concepts to a layperson, Gott did fabulously. This book also deals with such fun as the beginning of the universe. The whole "universe created itself" concept is excellent. SPOILER: (can one spoil a nonfiction science book? I honestly don't think so, which is why I'm not checking the box) . . . . . It sounds like time travel is theoretically possible, but we're going to have to get a LOT better at space travel first. Also, no tr I can't say I understood it all. But for explaining extremely complicated concepts to a layperson, Gott did fabulously. This book also deals with such fun as the beginning of the universe. The whole "universe created itself" concept is excellent. SPOILER: (can one spoil a nonfiction science book? I honestly don't think so, which is why I'm not checking the box) . . . . . It sounds like time travel is theoretically possible, but we're going to have to get a LOT better at space travel first. Also, no traveling back in time until someone builds a "time machine." Boo. In other news, I just figured out I work next door to the public library!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I picked up this book because I like to hear all of the theories and concepts behind them. The book starts off with talking about the grandmother paradox and gives reference to how Hollywood has used this in a few movies (ex. Back to the Future, Groundhog Day). Gott also talks about theories behind the creation of the universe and how the universe could create itself. He then ends with the 50 and 95 percent certainty principle. I love this book because of how easy it was to read and understand wi I picked up this book because I like to hear all of the theories and concepts behind them. The book starts off with talking about the grandmother paradox and gives reference to how Hollywood has used this in a few movies (ex. Back to the Future, Groundhog Day). Gott also talks about theories behind the creation of the universe and how the universe could create itself. He then ends with the 50 and 95 percent certainty principle. I love this book because of how easy it was to read and understand with very little things i needed to go online and look up.it was a good read overall and doesn't take to long to get into. I would recommend this book to 14- 15 year olds.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    This started off as a fascinating read however I am going to have to put it to one side for the time being. Despite being billed as for the lay reader the scienctific writing was very detailed and way beyond my grade D GCSE science. An interesting survey of time travel in film though. Whoever it was who told me that Bill and Ted's excellent adventure was about a road trip round America clearly had never actually seen it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Physics for those cursed, or blessed (however you look at it), with an inability to comprehend the mind-numbing concepts of modern theories. Gott allows his readers a unique access to the theories that have been commonly accepted to rule our universe. He intersperses his explanations of Einstein's theories with pop culture references and melds these two disparate concepts into a very readable explanation of a confusing concept.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    This is a very readable look at time travel and the origins of the universe, and it was written by one of my astrophysics professors from this semester! He does tend to spend a lot of time talking about his own accomplishments, but I'm going to cut him some slack, since they really are quite impressive. I also liked that he offered multiple theories as to the origins of the universe, and none of them answered the question, "Yes, but what happened before THAT?"

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