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How to Build a Time Machine Paperback – 6 Jun 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (6 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141005343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141005348
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 1.3 x 18.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 814,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

In How to Build a Time Machine, Paul Davies, Professor of Theoretical Physics and a veteran of the popular science writing genre, has produced a delightful little book about time and time-travel. The format of the book is reader-friendly, written in his usual clear, lucid and engaging style with text linked to relevant sketches, photographs and diagrams of machinery. At the heart of the book is an explanation of Einstein's theory of relativity and what that theory tells us about the possibility of time-travel. Einstein's theory tells us that travel into the future is certainly possible while the possibility of travel into the past has not yet been ruled out. What makes this book such a fascinating and fun read is finding out about the practicalities of building a time machine. If we want to travel into the future, Davies tells us, all we need do is build a machine that moves fast enough. Any machine will do so long as it can move at a velocity close to the speed of light. Things become really interesting however, when we start to think about how to travel backwards in time. The method Davies outlines in the book involves using a wormhole adapted to form a time machine. You jump into the hole and come out in another place and in another, past time. This is a "machine" that is part of the structure of the universe, a machine you step through into the past. Davies then presents a step-by-step guide to building such a machine with illustrations of the various components and descriptions of the processes involved before discussing some of the paradoxes of time-travel. A more interesting way of learning about Einstein's theory than this is difficult to imagine; this is a highly entertaining read and an excellent introduction to the subject of theoretical physics. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"An entertaining tour around a fascinating topic, conducted by a world-class physicist" - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
How To Build A Time Machine, by Paul Davies. Published by Allen Lane/The Penguin Press
How to Build A Time Machine should sell by the time-machineful. The title sounds like an archetypal mad scientist's manual; chiming with this theme, the cover looks like an archetypal mad scientist's manual with its bold, confident sans-serif font, and it's written in a breezy, accessible style that leaves one with perhaps misplaced confidence that one understands the niceties of spacetime and quantum mechanics.
In his introduction, Paul Davies quotes JBS Haldane's dictum "the world is not only queerer than we think, it is queerer than we can think" and the whole book acts as proof. Particularly fascinating are the early chapters "How to visit the future" and "How to visit the past." The wondrous implications of Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity are explicated clearly for the laity; time is elastic, and by simply moving about the exact duration of time between two definite events is lessened; by flying from London to Cape Town and back, physicists demonstrated in 1971, ultra-accurate atomic clocks lost 59 nanoseconds relative to identical clocks that stayed in London. Gravity's slowing effect on time effects even the relative times on the bottom and top of a building; in 1959 in Harvard it was found that this timewarp factor in a tower 22.5 metres high resulted in a slowing effect of 0.000000000000257 percent.
So in other words there is a miniscule time difference between the top and bottom deck of the Number 10 bus. And furthermore due to the Number 10's motion a timeshift effect relative to the stationary observer occurs. Something else to ponder as the bus chugs its way homewards.
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Format: Paperback
After the brilliant book "About Time" I was really
looking forward to Paul Davies next book on
Time.
But as a followup to "About Time" "How to build
a timemachine" is a bit disappointing.
I had expected a fountain of new ideas on wormholes
in spacetime and their use for time travel. Plus all
sorts of other ideas like e.g. Tiplers rotating
cylinders with the possibility of global
causality violations and more.
Instead the book revisits some of the material covered
in "About Time" in a shortened format. Other parts
are covered more extensively in Richard Gotts Timetravel
in Einsteins universe.
So all in all I would only recommend this book
for someone who hadn't read anything about relativity,
timetravel and spacetime before. And weren't looking
for to much detail.
With that said the book is still pretty entertaining.
-Simon
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Format: Paperback
At first I was a little apprehensive about buying a science book on such a complex subject because i expected it to be full of scientific jargon which meant nothing to me.
However Paul Davies makes this subject easier to understand because after the inevitable hard to grasp idea or impossible word, he explains it with a simple analogy.
The only criticism i would have is that it does slightly begin to fall away in the middle and become tedious and hard to read. This however is the nature of the beast that is astrophysics and it then turns around in the last few chapters to being thoroughly absorbing again.
In my opinion this a fantastic book for those with a casual interest in time travel etc, and very much worth a read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No, not really. I haven't managed to build a time machine yet, hence 1 star off right away.

The 2nd star has been removed because the author, like many who write at this level, suddenly make vast leaps of imagination right where your own non PHD understanding on the subject starts to fail... so they basically cover the stuff you know well and then suddenly just blurt out something without any explanation.

For instance, ageing one end of a worm hole near a dense body, and then being able to travel into the past by traversing the worm hole. Really? Does that even work? I don't doubt time passes more slowly near dense bodies, but does the actual exit of the worm hole exist in the past? Or is it merely younger? I just felt some explanation around such suggestions would have been valuable as that is exactly where I struggle with these concepts. There must be maths to support it, but no mention of it at all is made etc.

A great idea, but in my view, just like Brian Cox on TV, they tell you all the stuff you possibly know already with lots of nice analogies, but then when it really matters, they quickly gloss over things in a single sentence.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Davies begins by telling the reader that time moves at differing speeds in different places. If this amazes you, your next question will be: "Is moving back in time possible, and what are tommorrow's lottery numbers?". Strangely, you'll have to reach page 105 before there is any treatment of actual time travel. The intervening pages answer the "is it possible?" question with an "In theory" that you'll need a Physics PhD to (partially) understand.
If you're suprised by the variable flow of time you can't have a Physics doctorate, so the author has setup his own logical paradox: If this is a book for the knowlegable enthusiast it's too lightweight, but if its aimed at the novice it addresses the interesting questions too late (you'll have given up before you get to the "Back to the future" discussion - assuming linear casuality).
Aside from the uneven tone, this is a fun book in a handy size with friendly line-drawings on every other page. Clearly, it's not meant to be taken too seriously. Still, it is a shame that the middle (pseudo hard-science) portion isn't at the end, where it can be safely ignored. An alternative to consider is Kip Thorne's "Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy" which is suprisingly readable, and only four times the length.
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