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In Time: A Traveler's Guide, Clifford A. Pickover strives to answer the most challenging questions scientists and philosophers ask. What is time? Is time travel possible? Is time real? Does it flow in one direction only? Does it have a beginning or an end? What is eternity? For centuries, these questions have intrigued mystics, philosophers, and scientists. Today physicists would agree that time is one of the strangest properties of our universe. This book allows readers to travel through time and space, and they needn't be experts in physics. By the time readers finish this book they will understand such seemingly arcane concepts as space-time diagrams, light cones, time machines, cosmic moment lines, transcendent infinite speeds, Lorentz transformations, causal linkages, superliminal and ultraliminal motions, Minkowskian space-times, Godel universes, closed timelike curves, and Tipler cylinders. This book is a resource for science fiction writers and readers, a playground for computer hobbyists, an adventure and education for beginning students in physics or philosophy.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195130966
ISBN-10: 0195130960
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 155mm x 21mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 30-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States


UK Kirkus Review » There are several good books about the physics of time travel, which (surprisingly) is not forbidden by the laws of physics as understood today. Pickover's variation on the theme is entertaining and accessible, and chiefly distinguished by including a few short computer programs which can be used to demonstrate some of the things he describes. It is positively naughty of the author, though, not to include in his references either John Gribbin's In Search of the Edge of Time or Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps, which cover very similar ground and which he must have read. If you already have either of those books, you don't need this one; if you haven't, this is as good an introduction to the subject as they are. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » 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-fi fans 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. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Clifford A. Pickover

Clifford A. Pickover is a Research Staff Member at the IBM Watson Research Center.

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