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Breaking the Time Barrier: The Race to Build the First Time Machine
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The first great popularising of the idea of a time machine was undoubtedly H.G. Wells' novel of the same name, but lesser known is the fact that scientists from the same time period forward to today have been speculating in earnest about the factual possibilities of time travel and time machines. These kinds of speculations do not take the form of machines that look like go-carts with umbrellas on top (such as the films portray), but they are nonetheless fascinating. Once upon a time, the idea that human beings would send ships to the moon and other planets seemed like the stuff of fanciful science fiction; time machines and time travel still has that veneer, but as recently as a few years ago, physicist Paul Davies was able to state with all seriousness that there is no theoretical problem with building a time machine.
Jenny Randles has put together an intriguing text looking at the history of time machine and time travel speculation and research. This includes a good dose of science fiction, but more interestingly, a strong selection of science fact. Scientists with well-known names such as Einstein, Fermi, Hawking, and Penrose are joined with lesser-known figures such as Kaku and Chernobrov, the latter of whom has claimed to have built a time machine of sorts already.
Of course, this flies in the face of the law of chronological protection - a speculation advanced by Hawking (among others) that there is an as-yet undiscovered law of nature that enforces the cause-preceding-effect sequence of events. Just because it hasn't been discovered yet doesn't mean it's not there, and for good measure, the idea was advanced that civilisations with time-travel capabilities would have already made their presence known (if not destroyed us entirely) if such capabilities were ever found in fact. Others hold for a less rigid law of restrictive behaviour - you cannot go back and prevent your own birth, for example. However, where the boundary exists between chronology protection and flexible but restrictive boundaries is impossible to tell.
Randles discusses in general terms experiments, theoretical physical and mathematical models, and concepts that deal with dimensional analysis and speculation. How many dimensions are there, really? Even scientists such as Einstein could not come up with a single answer over the course of his life. Do we live in a universe or a 'multi-verse'? Just what is a multi-verse, anyway? These are some of the questions discussed. Randles does not get into equations and technical details, but sticks with general narrative discussion; thus, the level of science in this text never advanced much further than popular levels. However, there are some references listed in the back that can lead the interested reader to further texts. This part could be expanded to be more helpful for those who are technically inclined.
This is an interesting text, a quick read, full of personality and intrigue as well as scientific (and science fiction) ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2013
This was the 3rd book I've read by Jenny Randles in relation to Time Travel & this book is even more amazing! There are even more cold, hard facts that proves that we will be very close to achieving the very possibility that we will Time Travel in this life-time. Another amazing book for Time Travel enthusiasts.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2008
I bought this on a whim knowing nothing about it. It turned out to be a bit of a revelation. Reading some of the other reviews I guess if you are looking for a highly technical scientific tome you are going to be bitterly disappointed. However that kind of criticism is a bit like condemning Oliver Twist for not having any good car chases in it.

This book is obviously meant for the casual reader someone like me who enjoys trying to get his head round an episode of Horizon that likes to talk about parallel dimensions etc.

What Jenny Randles does is put each experiment and theory in its own chapter and push the concept to as far as a layman like me can take it. It is well written, pacey and always fascinating so I encourage you to find out a little about how or when or should we break the time barrier.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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on 8 February 2013
I lile reading Time Travel books.
I chose this product for the price.
I highly recommend others to buy it.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2006
This is a great book dealing with a great subject. It is a book however that is appropriate for open minds. It is not scientifically documented but the author tries her best to do so. Very Good.
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on 2 June 2015
very good
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14 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2006
This book is the worst sort of populist nonsense. It's hard to stomach even the first two or three pages. There is no science fact, no academic substance, not even an attempt to lay out the history of the subject.
Within two pages, Randles is suggesting that a lab experiment which slowed a beam of torch-light to negligible speed provides the keys to a time machine enabling us to travel to the past and future across frozen time!
Stephen Hawking said it all. Time travel will never be possible. How does he know? Because no-one has come back from the future to tell us it is.
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