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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST BOOK of its genre that I have ever read!, 25 Oct 1999
This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
Quite frankly, this is the best book of its genre that I have ever read!
Clear, concise, easy to understand (as easy to understand as four dimensional space-time and parallel universes are), fun to read, funny and the narration, like that of a conversation; absolutely superb. This, along with personal views and experiences, gives this book a unique feel like no other.
What I think is so wonderful about this book is the way in which Mr. Al-Khalili doesn't just simply talk about black holes, wormholes and time machines (!). There's a lot more to it than that. Many other aspects of Physics, from Einstein's theories of relativity, super dense material called cosmic string, to the theory of everything not to mention quantum mechanics are all discussed. It's sheer brilliance the way in which he illustrates how all these things tie-up and are related, through the central focus of the book. Of course, relating everything from atoms to the universe is exactly what Physics is all about, but it is not always easy to see how. Mr. Al-Khalili does this very well.
I also liked the section exploring the science fact behind the science fiction. I was particularly impressed by the profound thought which went into explaining and elaborating upon the Terminator paradox (I'm sure you've all thought about it as well) - if Arnie had succeeded in killing Mrs. Connor, then John would never have been born; but if John hadn't been born, then there would never have been any need to send someone back to kill Mrs. Connor; so Mrs. Connor would not have been killed, and so John would have been born. HEH? This is where parallel universes and quantum mechanics comes in to save the day. This is the first time I've come across this idea, and it's fascinating to say the least. All good stuff!
In the week it took me to read "Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines", I spent more time reading than doing my schoolwork! (and a lot of schoolwork is the norm for a hardworking student like myself) - the book is that addictive!
Mr. Al-Khalili has done himself and the university of Surrey proud with an absolutely outstanding book, which is a must read for the interested 'layperson' and Physics student alike.
Mr. Al-Khalili plans to publish another book in about two years time (on quantum mechanics), and I for one can't wait. In the meantime, I think I'll read "Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines" over again a couple more times, just for the fun of it!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely excellent book, 16 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
A brilliantly written book for both scientists and non-scientists alike. Unlike most science texts, this one is gripping and informative, written in a clear easy style. Superb.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, accessible to all., 9 Jan 2005
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
To someone (like myself) who has little or no knowledge of physics, this book is a REAL eye-opener. It is incredibly exciting, and has a deal of humour to boot.
Some parts DO require concentration to get your head around, and I must admit on one or two occasions being slightly lost. Thankfully though 99% of the book was quite easy to follow.
Primarily the book is focused on giving the reader an overview of Einstein's Theories of Relativity, and in particular how these could be applicable to time travel.
My only slight criticism is that the author does seem to concentrate on building/using time machines from a practical viewpoint, as though the reader is a Sc-Fi fan.
Before reading it I thought the universe was born billions of years ago with the Big Bang, and that I was at a certain point in time, and it would carry on ad infinitum after I die. Not necessarily so according to modern physics!
A very small sample of amazing information that I learned was:
Time could start running backwards if the Universe stops expanding and starts contracting.
Time slows down the quicker you go (near the speed of light time almost stops, or speeds up to infinity depending on your viewpoint).
Gravity doesn't pull objects, but bends space itself so objects 'fall' into it.
Gravity bends time and slows it down. Very heavy gravitation can almost stop time.
That the 'present' depends on where you are in space (and your speed), and that all future & past events may co-exist.
The book also touches on Quantum Mechanics, which is even weirder i.e. particles appearing from nowhere and being in 2 places at the same time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 8 Aug 2002
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Mr. S. J. Walton "Wacton" (Swansea) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
I find myself coming back to this book over and over again. Everytime you read it you learn something new. The author's writing style is informal, and he explains the various concepts in the book very clearly, with lots of examples and occasional diagrams. Overall, an absoluetly fascinating book to go along with A Brief History of Time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The clearest explanations I have seen., 8 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
I don't need to write a long review. If you want the clearest explanation to relativity theory and to some of its stranger predictions then you just found it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch science book and a good intro to heavyweight cosmological topics, 8 Aug 2008
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Mr. Graham Cummings (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading this book, and have just started reading it again. I'm a big fan of Jim Al-Khalili's work, and the attempts he makes to explain seriously heavy cosmological ideas to everyday people.

What I think he does extremely well in this book is to help you build a difficult-to-understand concept in your mind, without a single mind-bending equation. This is all the more amazing, given that a sizeable portion of the information contained in this book is based on theory rather than proven fact.

The only thing that didn't work for me in this book was the attempts at humour. I really like the conversational style, as it really aids your understanding of the information, but the jokey comments remind me of seminars I've been to in the past where the listeners laugh at the speaker's jokes just to be kind and save embarrassment.

But anyway, apart from that, the book is faultless and it thoroughly deserves five stars. I would suggest reading it, even if you aren't interested in this subject. I think it would also work really well as an audiobook too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Light-hearted, Humorous, and Thoroughly Enjoyable, 12 Aug 2011
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John Dexter - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
Jim Al-Khalili's ambition was to write a book "which would explain some of the ideas and theories of modern physics for anyone to understand" (p.ix) - job (well) done! However, if your ambition is to deepen your understanding of the intricacies of relativity, this may not be the book for you. There are no detailed explanations for the effects of relativity and no elegant proofs to be found within these pages: Al-Khalili simply describes what scientists know - not how they know it.

Strangely, this approach works rather well! The absence of dense passages of scientific explanation allows Al-Khalili to take a light-hearted approach to some of the fundamental concepts of modern cosmology (the nature of time, spacetime, and gravity) and then wrap them (no pun intended!) around the effects of gravitational anomalies - the black holes and wormholes of the title. Given the uncertainty that surrounds these phenomena, he is then free to indulge in speculation about the potential for time travel. It's a refreshing approach to the popularization of modern science and reminiscent of Carl Sagan's approach in works such as Pale Blue Dot.

This is a fun and enjoyable read from start to finish and, although written with teenagers in mind (p.x) and in a humorous style, it's a great place to start if you have never grappled with the ideas of relativity before - no matter what age you are! Nonetheless, if you are ready for something slightly more challenging, try Neil deGrasse Tyson's Death by Black Hole.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, I'm currently building a time machine because of it!, 25 July 2011
This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
Started reading the book when I was studying physics at A level but found it a little to much at the time.
With a bit more time and space (A shed) to read and think it makes a very thought provoking read.

Would recomend it to anyone.

Oh and does anyone have any flux capacitors... I just need one more to get this thing working.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great beginnings, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
Love this book. Perfecto for amateurs in the matter.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, not too technical and humorous to boot, 18 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Paperback)
I thought this book was excellent. I've been fascinated by this subject for years and have attempted (and failed) to read Hawking, Einstein et al because I just found them too complicated and too filled with equations to make sense. I have 2 hons degrees so I don't think I am that stupid (I hope not!) but I just found Hawking and the like to be unreadable- their concepts are not explained in laymans terms and unless you are an expert in quantum mechanics its like wading through treacle. This book, however, was perfect for a dunce(!) like me and the author gave practical examples and diagrams for most of the complicated concepts such as how black holes work and the concept of time. The style of writing is also very accessible and smattered with the author's own personal thoughts and witty observations which I liked as it made it seem more like we were having a conversation rather than him talking at me about subjects that i don;t understand. For example, in the time travel section he uses the film "The Terminator" to illustrate the time travel paradox which having seen the film, was really helpful and I actually understood what he was saying (yay!).

The book inevitable throws up more questions that answers but this is the nature of cosmology and science in general I think. There are some fascinating insights into the possibility of time travel and the fact that according to the laws of gravity, it is technically possible and I was blown away by the idea of Planck time (a measurement of time that is so small, there are more planck units in a single second than there are seconds since the universe began). The concept of infinity was also brilliantly explained and it made me realise that the universe in which we live is more mysterious and unfathomable than I ever realised possible. An excellent book which makes this subject understandable. I actually feel more intelligent having read it!!
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Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines
Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines by Jim Al-Khalili (Paperback - 1 Jan 1999)
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