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"How to Build a Time Machine" by Paul Davies

Great and friendly-written title on what possibilities are available to go forward or back in time.

Films like Back To The Future and video games like Chrono Trigger all have brought about the fun idea of playing, and traveling, in Time. If you're a huge fan of murder mysteries, imagine how many cases you could've solved reverting back to that moment it happened. If you're a history junkie, you could witness the biggest changes, decisions, events and assassinations with your very own eyes. Or, if you like, you could revert back to last week changing the part where you were late to work; Perhaps jumping ahead into the future to see what humanity's ultimate fate will be. All those possibilities make me thankful for author Paul Davies for writing this book.

It's not what you think: building a real-life, actual machine where one sits down, pulls a lever, and chooses which time period they like to revert back to (hence the word "machine" in "time machine"). Using scientific, yet realistic, examples in the realm of astronomy/astrophysics and cosmology, with a dose of quantum mechanics, the layperson can get a simple sense of how such a possibility could be likely—traveling back in time and charging forward in the very future of time. Although good enough for the layperson, some simple, basic knowledge of astronomy and cosmology helps. Other than that, it's a quick, simple yet a fun read.

In the first chapter is where author Davies explains the easiest: jumping into the future. Using the "Sam and Sally" anecdote, Davies makes a brilliant point explaining well on how one can go about jumping into the future without, say, you, aging throughout the process. As mentioned previously, Davies includes a gentle explanation mentioning some astrophysical properties, likelihoods and a little thought provoking keys. In the second chapter, things got quite beefy. Davies went on to spell everything out in talking about how things go about in jumping into the past. Judging by the writing, Davies did a modest job in doing so, and I say that because it doesn't seem to be a simple explanation (these are big, scientific subjects we're talking here). Just in case you're fond of it, yes, Davies introduces the idea of wormholes and, get this, "naked singularities." In the third chapter is the part where Davies combines everything together and building the ultimate machine, and how to go about it. Everything seems to be theoretical, while some are unlikely, but it doesn't hurt to talk about it and, if we're even lucky to do so, even devise a way to do it. (Then again, widening up that wormhole enough for people to travel through will be a crazy one to expect.) Lastly, the fourth and final chapter is making sense of everything and why we even should talk about it when it all sounds like another realm in science fiction. I believe there's a saying that goes, "those who make history are the ones who break the law," or at least ones who sway away from conformity. Even if most of us know about the laws of nature, it doesn't hurt to exercise its possibilities, or even challenge the very laws we're stuck with. It's like the number 2: you don't have to be stuck in the thought that 1 + 1 = 2; The number 2 can be achieved in many different, in this case, mathematical, ways. Same with our Universe. Like the goings-on today, there's more about Universe than we can comprehend, but that doesn't mean we can't try. We only have ourselves, and it's best to know and understand, and hopefully make sense, of this place we're in (not just our own planet Earth).

It's refreshing to sit down with a book like this, being able to simply learn something new and even challenge our own knowledge we have of the Universe. I, for one, am one of those who's a huge fan of time traveling, which makes this book quite fitting. Then again, studying its realistic nature which involves big subjects like astrophysics isn't something one can learn in one day (I still want to study it, however). HUGE thanks to the writers and producers of the video game Chrono Trigger which made time traveling adventurous and fun—one of the few sources that inspired me in studying about Time and enjoying the ravishing idea in wanting to jump back or jump forward in time.

This book was written gently and nicely. Here's to you, Mr. Davies. If you love and even envisage the nature of Time, don't miss this great little book!





  • A great book pushing the hypothetical possibilities of time traveling.
  • Reads like an online science article.
  • Accessible for all ages; Understandable without all the jargon.
  • None.
100% (A+)
Fan Rating
Title How To Build A Time Machine
Author(s) Paul Davies
Description Is Time Travel Possible?

With his unique knack for making cutting-edge theoretical science effortlessly accessible, world-renowned physicist Paul Davies now tackles an issue that has boggled minds for centuries: Is time travel possible? The answer, insists Davies, is definitely yes—once you iron out a few kinks in the space-time continuum. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, Davies explains the theoretical physics that make visiting the future and revisiting the past possible, then proceeds to lay out a four-stage process for assembling a time machine and making it work. Wildly inventive and theoretically sound, How To Build A Time Machine is creative science at its best—illuminating, entertaining, and thought provoking.
Acknowledgements I am grateful to many people for assisting me with this book. Special thanks are due to colleagues Gerard Milburn, Lee Smolin, Peter Szekeres, Andrew White, and David Wiltshire, as well as my agent, John Brockman, and my editor, Stefan McGrath.
ISBN 0-670-03063-5 // 978-0-14-200186-8
Book Dimensions Width: 5.13″ (5 1/8″)
Height: 7.94″ (7 15/16″)
Depth: 0.38″ (3/8″)
Page Count 144
Contents Acknowledgements, List of Illustrations, A Brief History of Time Travel, Prologue, How to Visit the Future, How to Visit the Past, How to Build a Time Machine, How to Make Sense of It All, Bibliography, Index
Designed by Jaye Zimet
Illustrations by Jaye Zimet, adapted from original art by Rebecca Foster and Dan Adams.
Cover Design by PostTool Design
Published 2001
Publisher Penguin Books / The Penguin Group
Copyright © Paul Davies, 2001
Printed in United States of America
Book Format Paperback, Kindle, eBook
Quoted Reviews "A brisk introduction to time, relativity, black holes, negative energy and some other weird aspects of modern physics. Dr. Davies' book gives a lot of value for minimal intellectual effort by its readers." —The New York Times

"[Davies] discusses lucidly and engagingly both the concepts of physics that establish the possibility of time travel and the tricky questions." —Scientific American

"A quick...lucid romp [through] wormholes, naked singularities, alternative universes, cosmic strings, exotic matter, negative energy, imaginary mass, gravitational time dilation, rising entropy and falling information.

Davies favors an economy of language and useful summaries for a subject that has bedeviled just about everyone at one time or another. He drags skeptics through and around all the big paradoxes and seeming physical impossibilities. One way or another, solutions are found for just about every objection one might make." —San Francisco Chronicle

"A brisk, fascinating little book. The book is a delight—a terrific, for the most part accessible explanation of the theoretical foundation upon which the notion of time itself...can be understood." —San Diego Tribune

"Davies approaches the problem [of building a time machine] with the can-do spirit of those old home-handyman guides. Davies is an old pro at this topic, and he does a commendable job of keeping the explanations simple." —Discover

"A concise 'how-to' guide outlining your basic time machine requirements. Studying time travel seems like a good way to understand the universe better. No issue better illustrates the depth of time's mystery." —The Dallas Morning News

"Davies sets off on a challenging, occasionally whimsical examination of the theoretical and practical difficulties facing a 'time machine'...bringing along his sense of humor." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
Best Seller's List --
Other An international acclaimed theoretical physicist, Paul Davies has explained the puzzles of science to a huge audience through his bestselling books, including The Fifth Miracle, About Time, and The Mind of God. His talent at communicating advanced ideas in simple language was recognized by The Royal Society, with the award of the prestigious Michael Faraday Prize, and by the UK Institute of Physics with the Kelvin Medal and Prize. He was also awarded the 1995 Templeton Prize for his work on the deeper meaning of science. Davies lives mainly in Australia, where he is Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University, Sydney. He frequently travels, teaches, and lectures in the United States.
Library of Congress
Cataloging-in-Publication Data
1. Space and time.
2. Time travel.
I. Title.
CIP Number --
LC Control Number 2002066379
LC Call Number QC173.59.S65  D375  2002
DDC Call Number 530.11—dc21


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