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Paul Nahin

Time machines : time travel in physics, metaphysics, and science fiction

I'm a firm believer in the idea that science fiction stories are an excellent resource in the study of philosophy. In 'Time machines' Paul Nahin brings together an extensive list of fictional examples of time travel, and uses this to illustrate ideas in the science and philosophy of time. Thus we are introduced to wormholes, Gödel's rotating universe, and other ways of travelling in time. Nahin also gives plenty of consideration to the paradoxes which this might cause. Overall this book gives an accessible introduction to some deep ideas, as well as suggesting plenty of further reading.

However, I did get the feeling that, at nearly 600 pages, this book had expanded out of control. The first chapter is overview of about 100 pages and I was impatient to get onto the main part of the book. I also feel that the prospective readership could have dealt with more diagrams and equations in the main body of the book, rather than having these relegated to long 'tech notes' at the end.

I also felt that Nahin was often too dogmatic in judging other people's ideas. If the purpose of the book were to present Nahin's own ideas then this would have been fine, but as it is billed as a compendium of various ideas about time travel I felt that this dogmatism was out of place.

Product Description
This book explores the idea of time travel from the first account in English literature to the latest theories of physicists such as Kip Thorne and Igor Novikov. This very readable work covers a variety of topics including: the history of time travel in fiction; the fundamental scientific concepts of time, spacetime, and the fourth dimension; the speculations of Einstein, Richard Feynman, Kurt Goedel, and others; time travel paradoxes, and much more.