Recommended popular books on time. All of the authors know their physics; none are mortal enemies of the English language. Enjoy:
- The End of Time. Julian Barbour. Probably the best single description of the block universe picture of time.
- How to Build a Time Machine. Paul Davies. Like it says. He provides a simple if slightly over-the-top way to build a time machine. Serious fun.
- A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty. David Goldberg & Jeff Blomquist. I haven’t read this as it is not yet published (insert “my time machine is in the shop” joke here), but did have a chance to look at their galley copy when they did their recent talk. They are determined to present a clear & nonsense-free picture of the current physics thinking on frontier subjects like the expansion of the universe, time machines, the supercollider and so on.
- Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time. J. Richard Gott. He came up with a way to build a time machine out of two cosmic strings which is disturbingly clever. He also has a way to estimate (very roughly) how long something (a person, building, civilization, mouse trap) is likely to last if you know how old it is now. Good sense of humor too.
- Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel. Michio Kaku. Good discussions of force fields, teleportation, starships, faster-than-light travel, and, of course, time travel. Kaku is particularly good at saying just what the word “impossible” means in different contexts.
- Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality. Ronald L. Mallett. He has a proposal for building a time machine using “frame-dragging”. I don’t think it will work but I suspect it will be a very interesting failure.
- Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction. J. Paul Nahin. Probably the best single starting point if you are interested in time travel. See also his Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel (Science Fiction Writing Series), if you have a desire to write science fiction but don’t want to re-invent the time machine.
- TThe River of Time. Igor D. Novikov. The chapter on the flow of time has in my view one of the clearest explanations of how you go from the timeless time of the block universe to the flowing time of the experienced universe. He is also responsible for the Novikov consistency principle: essentially, that if time travel is possible, events that create a paradox must be self-canceling.
- Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time. Huw Price. This is the work that persuaded me the block universe picture is more likely than not to be true. Price is a precise thinker; a pleasure to read.
- Timeless Reality : Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes. Victor J. Stenger. A very forceful exposition of the block universe view. He is equally good on quantum mechanics: see his The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology.
- Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program). Kip Thorne invented the wormhole time machine to help Carl Sagan out with his novel Contact, and in doing so kicked off a kind of renaissance of time machines. Particularly good discussion of the paradox issues & how to resolve them.
- The New Time Travelers: A Journey to the Frontiers of Physics. David Toomey. Good description of the state of the art of the art of time travel today. Readable, accurate, & covers the major questions.
I’ve included links to amazon.com for the books. This is partly for your convenience and partly because if you click on one of them & then buy the book, amazon will help me pay for the expenses of this blog. I’ve also included links to the author’s web site, if he has one, or to the wikipidia article about him if not. This is entirely for your convenience.