Tag Archives: book

Time Travel by James Gleick

I was hoping this book would discuss more of the science concerning the possibility (and unpossibility) of time travel, but he covered more of the older science fiction that discussed time travel.

It all starts with a discussion of the H. G. Wells book, The Time Machine, that was published in 1895. That seems to be the impetus for much/most /all? of the time travelling science fiction that follows in his footsteps. I’ve not had the pleasure of reading the Time Machine, but now that I know it exists, I will give that a read.

He then goes on to talk about and explain how other science fiction authors address the concept of time travel in new, different, and unique ways.

The two chapters that cover more of the science and philosophy of time travel are Chapter 11 on Paradoxes, and Chapter 12 on What is Time. The main paradox that is discussed concerning time travel back in time, is the problem that one could kill their grandfather. Personally, I don’t think that one could circle back in time to affect the present. Time operates like a function on a graph. For every point in time along the x axis, there can only be one y answer. Like a mathematical function, time is not allowed to backtrack.

But, it may be possible to jump to the future. All one needs to do is travel at the speed of light, or nearly the speed of light, and one can essentially travel into the future while aging very little. The main problem is that it takes a huge amount of energy to get a mass of any weight close to the speed of light. This was mentioned, but it was not talked about all that much.

If you want to get an overview of the science fiction of time travel, this is your book. If you want a scientific overview, this will have pieces and parts, but that is not the focus of it.

For a more in depth look at the concept of time, the Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli, may be better. I read that book a couple years back, but I found it to be a little obtuse. I seem to agree with many of the people who gave that book 3 stars.

Is God a Mathematician? – The book doesn’t answer that question

I recently read the book, Is God a Mathematician by Mario Livio. I picked it up at the JeffCo Libraries Whale of a Book Sale. I figured the book would not answer the question posed by the title, but I thought it would talk a little bit more about logical proofs for or against an all powerful being. In a way, I am glad that it did not do that. It was mostly on the question, is mathematics invented, or is it discovered?

My favorite chapter was probably chapter 5 on statistics and probability. I learned a little bit more about how games of chance helped influence mathematical thought. They discussed games of chance on pages 138-140, but it was involving dice. I thought that card games influenced mathematical thinkers more when it came to chance and probability of winning various hands of cards. That didn’t seem to come up in the book.

I guess I am on the side of the fence for mathematics being discovered. I think that prime numbers and the number pi exist with or without human involvement. It is just up to us to find them in the world of mathematics. But, math is more than just numbers, it also involves concepts such as functions, and algebraic concepts of unkowns in formulas. There is a lot of math in physical concepts such as waves of light or the Navier-Stokes equations in fluid dynamics. That math would still exist even if we did not find them. Other intelligent life forms would probably also know about pi, prime numbers, the speed of light in a vacuum, E = mc2, and the Navier-Stokes equations.

However, we can invent different ways to communicate the concepts of mathematics, just as calculus can be communicated using different terminology. So, the way to communicate mathematics can be invented.

Anyway, it was a good book. It was not earthshaking, and it did not answer the main question in the title, but it was an interesting read.

Small review of the book Ms. Adventure by Jess Phoenix

The full title of the book is Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life.

She really did have some wild explorations. She does a great job of writing stories and weaving in pertinent details. I just wish she didn’t go to the state of Sinaloa in Mexico when she did. She tracked down a lost rock hammer by following a drug cartel vehicle to retrieve the item when it was probably extremely dangerous to do so.

She had some great adventures in Death Valley, at the volcanoes of Hawaii, a submerged volcano in the ocean near Hawaii, in Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador. This review at Amazon does a better job than I am doing right now.

I do wish she would have written more about her run for a House of Representative seat. Maybe she didn’t write about that because that didn’t have much action, and it didn’t work out for her.

I know several people who would enjoy this book, and I can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy travel and adventure books.

Short review of the book, The Discovery of the Universe, by Carolyn Collins Peterson

I was able to see a presentation by Dr. Peterson when she spoke at a meeting of the Denver Astronomical Club, November 2020. Since her book is not in any Colorado libraries, I ordered it for myself.

I found the book to be a great source of information concerning observatories all over the world. She provides a lot of information about the instruments and history of how and why they were constructed, what sorts of things the instruments were designed to observe, how much data they are gathering or plan to gather, and more.

I liked the chapter 7 on Observatories of the Future. It was a little more readable than the other chapters. As a Denver person, I am glad that she mentioned two DU observatories. They were historic Chamberlin Observatory on page 107 and the Meyer-Womble Observatory on page 213. She misspelled Chamberlin as Chamberlain.

She did have several other typos, such as confusing Purdue University using the word Perdue instead. I also feel that the book really could have used an index. For example, if I wanted to see what sections of the book covered observatories in Chile, I would have to search the whole book. If it had an index, I would be able to see what pages covered the large number of observatories in Chile.

Overall, I really liked the book. Now I may have to find some of the other books that she has written.