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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,660 ratings  ·  88 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 19th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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B Haze
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those into quantum physics.
Recommended to B by: amazon
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.
Steven Sills
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Michał Jan Warecki
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Rinad Hammad
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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 ...
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time, science
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
Michael Yourshaw
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 07, 2010 added it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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!
Austin Savill
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
ezra's mischief
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"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
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Edward Taylor
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, time-travel
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, ...more
Vegan Jon
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
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....
Jerry Don Smith Jr.
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.

Astrid Falkenberg
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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!
Dan Earl
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephen Hayden
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My absolute favourite science/physics book. Very involved but extremely informative. I still refer to this many years later.
Constance Sisson
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Good - but very technical
Frank DePascale
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Sehar  Moughal
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
April Brown
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, reference
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
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to bonnie by: my physicist brother
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
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This is a really good book that explains many possible theories of time travel in relation to the laws of physics. It does a good job of explaining complicated theories in a manner that non-scientists (like myself) would be able to understand and provides helpful diagrams to help illustrate complicated points.

The ideas discussed are very interesting, and it is fascinating to know the many ways that time travel could be achieved if we had unlimited resources/knowledge.
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
The first few chapters were incredibly interesting in that they actually went through various time travel possibilities and explained various paradoxes. Then the book took a long time to go through a physics overview about string theory, laws of motion, and higher dimensions that has been done better in other books and didn't really talk about time travel. The last chapter or so got back on track but I wish the book just stuck to time travel theory.
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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?"
Apr 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
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John Richard Gott III is a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. He is known for developing and advocating two cosmological theories with the flavour of science fiction: Time travel and the Doomsday argument.
“If you see an antimatter version of yourself running towards you, think twice before embracing.” 40 likes
“But where did the watch come from? This watch is a jinni—elderly Miss McKenna gives it to the young playwright, who takes it back in time to deliver it to her as a young woman. She keeps it all her life until it is time to return it to him. So who made the watch? No one. The watch never went anywhere near a watch factory. Its world line is circular. Novikov has noted that in the case of a macroscopic jinni like this the outside world must always expend energy to repair any wear-and-tear (entropy) it has accumulated so it can be returned exactly to its original condition as it completes its loop. Permissible in theory, macroscopic jinn are improbable. The whole story in Somewhere in Time could have taken place without the watch. The watch seems particularly unlikely since it appears to keep good time. One could have imagined finding a nonworking watch or perhaps a paper clip that passes back and forth between the couple. How lucky to encounter a watch that works! According to quantum mechanics, if one has enough energy, one can always make a macroscopic object spontaneously appear (along with associated antiparticles, which have equal mass but opposite electric charge)—it’s just extremely unlikely. Similarly with jinn, it would be more improbable to find a watch than a paper clip and more improbable to find a paper clip than an electron. The more massive and more complex the macroscopic jinni, the rarer it will be.” 0 likes
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