Monday, March 12, 2012

A Brain Twister

Time Travel and Warp Drives: A Scientific Guide to Shortcuts through Time and Space by 
Summary: Sci-fi makes it look so easy. Receive a distress call from Alpha Centauri? No problem: punch the warp drive and you're there in minutes. Facing a catastrophe that can't be averted? Just pop back in the timestream and stop it before it starts. But for those of us not lucky enough to live in a science-fictional universe, are these ideas merely flights of fancy—or could it really be possible to travel through time or take shortcuts between stars? Cutting-edge physics may not be able to answer those questions yet, but it does offer up some tantalizing possibilities. In Time Travel and Warp Drives, Allen Everett and Thomas A. Roman take readers on a clear, concise tour of our current understanding of the nature of time and space—and whether or not we might be able to bend them to our will. Using no math beyond high school algebra, the authors lay out an approachable explanation of Einstein's special relativity, then move through the fundamental differences between traveling forward and backward in time and the surprising theoretical connection between going back in time and traveling faster than the speed of light. They survey a variety of possible time machines and warp drives, including wormholes and warp bubbles, and, in a dizzyingly creative chapter, imagine the paradoxes that could plague a world where time travel was possible—killing your own grandfather is only one of them! Written with a light touch and an irrepressible love of the fun of sci-fi scenarios—but firmly rooted in the most up-to-date science, Time Travel and Warp Drives will be a delightful discovery for any science buff or armchair chrononaut.

Review: An informative and complex, complicated book. Not for those new to physics.

Time travel is especially fascinating to me because it technically could be possible, but we never know if it ever will become possible. I have read a lot of physics books (only informative non-fiction books, no textbooks), but I found this book quite complex. Time travel is a hard idea to wrap one's head around though, especially with the paradoxes associated with it. Everett and Roman provide a good background on the physics behind time travel, but insist upon using equations to explain and demonstrate certain facts. They also use long, convoluted examples with their equations. Then they summarize what they we trying to say in a few sentences and that's the part I understand best. I was able to understand the few sentences much better than the algebra. I did understand the algebra better as the chapters went on. I am good at math and have no trouble doing problems, but I prefer examples of the equations with values plugged in.

That being said, I did enjoy the book and did learn a lot. Some of the concepts were complex, but I felt I had a better understanding of time travel after finishing the book. I like to hope that time travel will be possible and that exotic matter will be discovered, but it isn't looking too good at this point. At least it makes for good science fiction.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of physics who are well versed in the subject and not those that are somewhat new to the topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment