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Time Traveler: A Scientist's Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This is the dramatic and inspirational first-person story of theoretical physicist, Dr. Ronald Mallett, who recently discovered the basic equations for a working time machine that he believes can be used as a transport vehicle to the past. Combining elements of Rocket Boys and Elegant Universe, Time Traveler follows Mallett's discovery of Einstein's work on space-time, his ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Basic Books
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3.94  · 
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 ·  435 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are a lot of reasons to want to build a time machine. To learn the truth about historical places and events, to see creatures that have been extinct for millions of years, to kill Hitler - always a favorite. You could go to the Library of Alexandria and save the works of great scientists and philosophers that have been lost to history. You could document the Crucifixion or watch the fall of Rome first-hand. You could see Jimi or Elvis or Janice or Kurt in their heyday, watch the original p ...more
Crystal Starr Light
I may have started out my year a bit unsteady with the goofy "Tinker", but if this book is an indication of what is to come, I may fall in love with reading again!

I don't recall exactly when I bought this book, other than it was several moves ago. For whatever reason, it survived multiple cullings but I never read it because I figured this would be a book going into some hardcore math and science - and as much as I love math and science, you gotta be in a mood for that.

I probably would have left
Paula Cappa
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Understanding time travel was always such a dense mystery to me, but Mallett is highly skilled in how he explains it for the ordinary person. I'm a writer of supernatural mysteries and do not have a mind for math, physics, or electrical technology at all. After reading Time Traveler, I have a much clearer perspective on just how possible time travel might actually be. Mallet explains about laser optical time, unidirectional circulating light beams and closed time loops in clear easy-to-understan ...more
I read this book because this is one of my favorite stories that has ever been featured on This American Life, in the episode "My Brilliant Plan."

As a young boy, the author's beloved father died very suddenly. So, as a ten year old, he decides that what he needs to do is build a time machine so he can go back in time and warn his father to take better care of himself and prevent him from dying young. Most kids would stop with the dream, but Ronald Mallett went on to devote his entire life to the
Jack Oughton
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love this guy. Ronald has the entirely unreasonable goal of making time travel a reality, so that he can go back and see his Dad one more time.

As one of the world's leading physicists, he also has the intellectual knowledge to help make this a reality.

I found his story to be honest, heartwarming, slightly naive and quite inspiring, and was most interested by his layman's explanations of various scientific concepts, though there is a lot of autobiography in there as well.
Vince Home
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting Book. Didn't think it was going to be about his as much as it was and gets pretty boring in the middle.
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly, there is a review that says what I want to say about this book and he got it spot on. Credit goes to and now I cannot find it. Well this book inspired me, it touches on family dynamics, emotional issues, depression, drive and determination, passion, racial issues, love, and science. Dr.Mallett talks about Physics in a way that even I could grasp it and there were times when I was clueless about his descriptions and explanations, but this book is very readable and I now want to meet Dr. ma ...more
Robert Hammond
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Cinematic story of a young boy who wants to build a time machine in order to reach out to his deceased father. He grows up to become a renowned theoretical physicist who breaks the code to making time travel a real possibility. Love to see the adaptation on the big screen.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. I was actually moved to tears more than once (does not happen often). The sorrow felt at the loss of the author's father at such an early age impacted his psyche and helped shape this brilliant man's destiny. The unwavering love for his Dad takes him on an incredible lifelong journey stemming from comic books, and "magical thinking" to an esteemed career in theoretical physics and a quest to explore the staggering possibilities that arise from new discoveries - all whil ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago but I was so impressed I looked up the author and found he was doing a speaking engagement in Springfield MA - I flew from KCMO to MA to visit friends and we went to the talk. Dr. Mallet was an engaging speaker and even sat down with me after to discuss loops in time.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing and touching book. Discuss some serious physics which might lead to real time travel.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: further-reading
This book is fantastic. I don’t normally write reviews but I enjoyed this book so much that I’m going to go ahead and do it.

Robby Charters
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was directed to this brilliant set of memoirs by another author, who's book I had just reviewed, The Negative's Tale, in which I had made a comment regarding his fictional science: "...Not being a nuclear physicist myself, I don't know where the hard science ends and his ingenuity begins..." The author, R. Leib messaged me that he had gleaned his hard science from Ronald Mallet's Time Traveler. Intrigued, I found it, and downloaded it. I was richly rewarded.

Ronald Mallet sets before us all the
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Matt by: Dauphne
I bought an autographed copy of this book for $1.99 from an independent seller on the Barnes & Noble web site -- and the seller didn't even bother to mention that it was autographed. I took this as a bad sign. Ron Mallett, the likable physicist who co-authored this true-life account, has a great story to tell of the journey that led him to figure out a way to make time travel a reality. Unfortunately, not all great stories make great books, and this is the case here. The story, fortunately o ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Time Travel
3.5/5 stars

As a person who normally sticks to reading science fiction and fantasy novels, I found this nonfiction book about time travel very compelling to read. I am a huge geek/nerd/otaku for time travel, and this led me to wonder how possible is it for time travel to actually occur.

Dr. Mallet has a way of explaining time travel in a way that readers are easily able to understand. He reiterates on topics and theories such as the theory of relativity and what frame dragging is, as well as expl
Jason Bergman
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're planning to read this book, you need to know up front that there's a lot of physics in here. The authors do a good job of dumbing it down for us lay people, but there's a lot of crazy theoretical physics talk, and it can be overwhelming.

Also, while Mallett has had some ups and downs in his life, it's not the most dramatic autobiography you'll ever read. He's not a wild adventurer, he's a professor and lecturer. If you want to read the adventures of a wild scientist, read Surely You're
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Ever since Doc Brown sped his Delorian around a mall parking lot in 1985, I have been captivated by time travel stories, gobbling up every movie and tv show on the topic. So, when I heard on an NPR show about the real life story of a boy so devastated by his father's death he dedicates his life to inventing a time machine to get just one more moment with his father, I had to read the book. Dr. Mallett is of course a much better mathematician than a writer. His sense of narrative tension and pace ...more
Mina Villalobos
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. It has great, easy to grasp explanations of science, and the person account of Dr. Mallet's educational experiences as he grew up, the influence of sci-fi on him as a young man, his experiences with discrimination, the impact of his father's memory on his life and his struggle to come to terms to it make it a very interesting book to read not just for the science of a working time traveling machine but for his strive for knowledge.

At parts the narrative does feel a b
Ray Lucas
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I believe that our optimism feeds our creativity and our ability to be resilient when we face trauma in our lives. Dr. Ronald Mallett's "Time Traveler" is a perfect example of what I am talking about. His memoir that tells of the loss of his father that birth an idea to pursue a life-long journey to discover the secrets of Time Travel, is a story of optimism, resilience and achievement.

Currently a Theoretical Physicist, Mallett's theories on time travel via "Black Holes" and "Lasers" are consid
Isaac Hazard
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure how it's possible to hire a writer to help an expert put their thoughts into book form and still end up with a book this poorly written. I'm pretty sure the editor got so bored in the second chapter that they neglected to read the rest of the book. Rambling style, mediocre grammar, zero story telling in what could have been a riveting tale of a young boy battling racism and professional skepticism and ultimately not exactly achieving his childhood dream but discovering some underlyi ...more
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was already somewhat familiar with Ronald Mallett's work from watching science documentaries on tv, and that's the reason I wanted to read this book. Time travel, especially to the past, has always fascinated me in science fiction, and what a revelation it is to learn that it really has a scientific basis and that it could perhaps be experimentally proven to be possible in our lifetime. By reading this book, I not only gained more detailed insight into his theories, I also learned more about t ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
I heard Dr. Mallett speak at my conference this summer, and he was enchanting. His descriptions and visuals helped me understand - at least in little glimpses - the physics he studies that are leading him to understanding time travel.

It was fun to read about his encounters with notable scientists, and I enjoyed hearing about his successes and motivations.

The book was a worthwhile read, but didn't flow very well. It might be slightly easier for people who have a better physics background than I
Toby Whaymand
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, it played a critical role in my research during the writing of THE NEXT STEP (My ebook) I would highly recommend this read.

This is Mr Mallett's personal journey on his inspirations which will probably lead the biggest breakthroughs in history. Reading this and taking an intensive interest in other research I believe Ronald's work will become successful, maybe not in his lifetime but I would like him to be the one to make it happen.

Ronald isn't talking about time trav
David Dines
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly touching account of Dr. Mallett's theoretical proof of the potential for the construction of a working time machine. While there are some dry passages that dive a little too deeply into the underlying math for a casual reader, I found the story of his professional development as an African American physicist beginning in the '60's really captivating, arresting, and worth telling. In many ways he was an outsider, not only as an African American in a predominantly white field, but a ...more
Lesa Hammond
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Whether you are interested in time travel, inspirational stories, African American success, or just a good book, this book fulfills all. This is a fascinating story that will inspire anyone seeking to live a life of passion. It is Dr. Ron Mallett's personal journey through life, the death of his father, struggles with his own depression and a steadfast desire to transcend time, to the discovery that put him in the public eye. This is an excellent book and accessible to those of us not in the fie ...more
I've gotta say I don't dig it. This guy needs to decide whether he's writing an autobiography, publishing his research to the masses, writing a history of physics and giving shout-outs to all his physicist friends and heroes, or trying to make everybody think he's a great guy because he's been through a lot. Frankly, his life is somewhat normal, and the book tends to be long-winded, technical, and braggy. And the main story isn't really even a story - it tells you what you could've figured out b ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story about how much you can achieve with dedication and motivation. Author reveals his thinking behind his research and explains very advanced concepts in physics, cosmology or mathematics in a way that you get at least general idea about what is going on, even without having scientific background for yourself. For me, it was like reading a science fiction story, and yet it's "based on a true story". Definitely a recommendation and a must read for everyone who's interested in scienc ...more
Terry Hueffed
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating read! The description of the book makes the book sound like it is a heavy book about science and it is not. It is a book about the author's life from a small boy who experienced the tragedy of his father dying to the present day and his struggle to become the foremost scientist on the subject of time travel. He is actually involved in developing a real time machine. He states that one day we will be able to travel back in time just like we do today getting on an airplane.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is mostly a memoir, but unfortunately Ronald Mallett's life isn't particularly remarkable, nor is its account particularly well written, so it reads like a speech at a 75th birthday party. What stands out about Mallett isn't his life or even his research but his endless love of and desire to learn. Since he does a good job of explaining his science in the bits of the book that involve it, I could see Time Traveler igniting that passion in someone first stepping into science reading. Th ...more
Mar 05, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While an interesting concept, the book largely focuses on the theories of other scientists, with Mallett's work itself being almost an aside. I found myself skimming the actual memoir aspect of the book itself as it had little to no depth and seemed as if it was added mostly as a chance for the reader to have a breath of fresh air before they read about another scientist's theories.

That said, it did lead me down a few paths of books I would now like to read.
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Ronald Lawrence "Ron" Mallett is an American theoretical physicist, academic, and author. He has taught physics at the University of Connecticut since 1975. He is best known for his scientific position on the possibility of time travel.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” I” 0 likes
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