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Time Machines: Time Travel In Physics, Metaphysics, And Science Fiction Paperback – 16 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 664 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2nd ed.. Softcover reprint of the original 2nd ed. 1999 edition (16 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387952225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387952222
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,388,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"The first edition of Paul Nahin's book was the most thorough compendium ever written on time travel... This second edition of Nahin's book has been revised accordingly. It now is not only the most complete documentation of time travel in science fiction, it is also the most thorough review of serious scientific literature on the subject - a review that, remarkably, is scientifically accurate and at the same time largely accessible to a broad audience of non-specialists. In browsing this revised edition, I have been struck by the richness and complexity of the tapestry of ideas that Nahin presents... Nahin's book may well remain the most readable and complete treatise on time travel in science and science fiction." - KIP S. THORNE, CALTECH"

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Format: Hardcover
This is a really thorough and engaging look at why physicists and philosophers have recently undertaken serious research into the possibility of time travel. Although quite a hefty volume, 'Time Machines' is well-written, well-organised and a pleasure to read. Paul J. Nahin is a physicist by trade and this book mainly tries to explain why some scientists have taken time travel seriously and why there may be fewer objections to time travel than you might think. (Nahin is also good on the reasons why other physicists reject the idea of time travel and while Nahin is generally pro the physical possibility of time travel, he handles criticisms of time travel very fairly.) This could have been a heavy read, since it has to survey about a dozen or so different physical means of generating time travel derived from relativity (mainly) and quantum theory. But Nahin keeps things clear and moving along, helped with a lot of useful examples from fiction too. (You could easily use the book as a survey of science fiction about time travel if you wanted - Nahin really knows his science fiction.) Nahin's also pretty good on the philosophy of time travel and the problems that time travel might create for freedom, knowledge and physical laws. Be warned though: don't look here if you want guidance on how to change the past - Nahin argues very clearly for the view that while it might be physically possible to visit the past, changing the past is (alas) right out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Outstanding research and analysis.

There's something here for the very simple to the very profound thinkers of our time. On occasion my mind boggled at the concepts encountered in this book, then at other times my mind became educated to some fascinating theories I had never encountered before, written in the simplest of terms.

I can't conceive of another book ever being written addressing all aspects of Time Travel as Mr. Nahin has written so thoroughly, and so eloquently here. He travels back in time to uncover the earliest references to the excitement, the frustration, and the paradox of Time Travel, right through to modern theories and conjectures of scientists, philosophers, and science fiction writers of today - and everyone else in-between!

For the Time Traveling enthusiast this book is a horn of plenty, a wealth of abundance, and a nourishment of science and fiction regarding the possibility (or not) of Time Travel able to feed the hungriest of minds. There's enough material here to keep the liveliest of book clubs busy poring over months and months of discussion and debate. There's also enough material here to furnish Sci-fi novelists with ideas for 20 or 30 future novels they may wish to write.

It really is a brilliantly researched and wonderfully written book on the mystery of all mysteries... Time Travel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x985a221c) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98496ed0) out of 5 stars Paul Nahin has written an excellent book for the layperson. 12 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
People have long been fascinated with the idea of time travel. The possibilities are exciting -- you could go back in time and experience firsthand all the wonders of history. You could actually get a second chance to correct mistakes in your own life. To some these possibilities are frightening -- if you really can change the past, what does this do to our sense of continuity? To history? What if you went back and killed your own father before he even met your mother?

Paul J. Nahin discusses both sides of this issue in his thought provoking book Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction. He begins with an overview of time travel, from scientific possibility of it, to popular conjecture about it. He goes on to discuss the nature of time itself, and then ends with an in-depth analysis of paradoxes created by the possibility of time travel. He assures us that we do not have to worry about changing history, because the past cannot be changed.

Nahin has written an excellent book for the layperson. He includes many references to popular works of science fiction, including many stories and movies the reader is probably familiar with. This helps illustrate many of his points. The text is clear and well written. Anyone without a background in physics can understand this book. For those with a more technical bent Nahin includes a few "Tech Notes" at the end of the book to explain certain phenomena he discusses. Time Machines is an exciting book for anyone who has ever sat outside on a long summer night and wondered "what if."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98499354) out of 5 stars time for a trip to the passsed 19 Sept. 2001
By Mindy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am no scientist, that's for certain.
This book is a wonderful blend of science and science fiction. It is perfect for people like me, who are fascinated by the idea of time travel but can't understand math or physics for anything. The first few chapters are basically a literature review. An extremely comprehensive literature review. It'll be enough to make you run to your library or bookstore (or computer) in search of these books and short stories.
Nahin also discusses the reality behind time travel with relatively little math. Most of the math is tucked away in the "Tech Notes in the back of the book. Nice technique to sucker in the math-scaredys like me.
What I really loved about the book, though is Nahin's enthusiasm. He is obviously just as nuts (or more) as I am about this outlandish subject of time travel, which makes the book, in my opinion, stand-out.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98499378) out of 5 stars Man Must Conquer Time! 9 Mar. 2001
By New Age of Barbarism - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a good introduction to some of the science fiction and science fact speculations concerning the possibility of time travel. It considers time travel from early science fiction speculations (e.g. H. G. Wells' _Time Machine_) to modern science speculations involving quantum mechanics, faster-than-light tachyons, and wormholes. From the classic speculations involving General Relativity of Kurt Godel and his rotating universe, to the modern speculations of Kip Thorne involving the use of wormholes to travel backwards in time, the science of time travel is made clear to the lay person. Philosophical speculation with regards to the metaphysics of time is dealt with fully. The apparent paradoxes of time travel (backwards in time) (e.g. the "grandfather paradox") are considered and possible resolutions to them are proposed. In the end, the reader is left to decide for himself whether time travel is: 1. possible, and 2. feasible (at whatever level of technological advancement). According to Stephen Hawking, the fact that we haven't been visited by time travelling tourists is evidence against the possibility of backwards in time, time travel. I myself do not believe this to be the case and think that there is some other reason for the apparent absence of time travellers. For those of us who boldly wonder about the possibilities of man's future evolution, future technological progress, and future civilization, the issue of time travel is an unavoidable and a tempting one. If man is to ever conquer the galaxy, he must conquer time first. It must be possible - it will be possible! This book is an appeal to dreamers and speculative philosophers to examine fully the issues, paradoxes, and proposed methods of time travel.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9849969c) out of 5 stars This book is awesome!!!! 8 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book just proves that there are things out there that we dont know, and that we should be figuring it out. Before reading this book I thought time travel was virtually impossible, but after reading it I knew that there is a way to do this we just need to try and figure out the mysteries. All in all this books is by FAR the greatest book on time travel yet.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98499504) out of 5 stars The past can be affected but not changed 11 Jun. 2007
By Steve Reina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The past can be affected but not changed.

This seems to be the moral of this little book from science fiction write Paul Nahin. And, unlike many others who've attempted to talk about time in a serious way, Nahin is all too ready to show readers that he's done his homework.

In four (blink and you'll miss it) sections Nahin takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the issues involved in time travel:

1) An overview of time travel. In this section Nahin samples time travel stories of the ages. While doing so, he introduces readers to some of the more pertinent time travel issues serious thinkers have raised about the topic. One such example is if time travel is real, where are all the travelers? While admitting the serious nature of the question and its implications Nahin also provides readers with possible responses to it (for example, the time machines don't reach back to our era). Another example of serious issues raised is a treatment by Princeton mathematician Kurt Godel who -- using Einstein's own equations -- came up with a solution for them which actually allows time travel. (The good news for time travel fans is that Einstein approved of the solution. The bad news is that it requires our universe to possess physical charactistics it lacks.)

2) On the nature of time, spacetime and the fouth dimension. In this section Nahin discusses hoary questions like what is time? Is time real? And what does it physically consist of? This section is a perfect case in point to the cursory nature with which Nahin treats some of these issues. As to the matters raised in this chapter alone I would refer readers to Michio Kaku's very excellent Hyperspace PRIOR to reading this section. So educated readers will better be able to understand the throwaway references made by Nahin as he sails through topics that probably could each consist of a book in themselves. Of course, just like in the previous section Nahin cites readers to time travel stories which have teased out themes he raises in this section.

3) The arrow of time. Here Nahin digs deep into the question of why time has seeming particular directional arrow. Just as with the previous section I made reading suggestions so that people coming to this book may better be able to appreciate I will make two suggestions now: The Physical Basis of the Direction of Time by Deiter Zeh (in which Zeh discusses the various possible arrows of time as they exist in nature) and also About Time by the University of Adelaide's Paul Davies (in which Davies goes over the same territory, albeit perhaps at more introductory level than that pursued by Zeh). As he does throughout this book Nahin tantalizingly scatters references to various time travel stories as they relate to these issues.

4) Time Travel Paradoxes and Their Explanations. Its perhaps here where Nahin best displays his various beliefs about how time travel would really work. Heavily influenced by Einstein, Godel and science fiction writer HG Wells, Nahin reiterates his views: Time is probably an illusion. Instead all that ever has or seemingly will happen exists now. Attempts to alter past history are mere fantsies therefore though Nahin does allow that some events may involve backwards causation where future actors purposefully or unwittingly aided in bringing them about. Consistent with his thorough treatment of time travel issues however Nahin is candid about how multi universes could make changing the past possible.

Make no mistake. This is a tough book made additionally hard by its brief treatment of some of the issues involved. But I think prepared readers will be glad they made the effort.
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