Time Travel James Gleick .pdfOriginal filename: Time Travel - James Gleick.pdf
Chaos: Making a New Science is a debut non-fiction book by James Gleick that initially introduced the principles and early development of the chaos theory to the public. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and was shortlisted for the Science Book Prize in 1989. 'These are fascinating stories of insight and discovery, told with a keen sense of drama and excitement Almost every paragraph contains a jolt.' —The New York Times. JAMES GLEICK.Title: Time Travel
Author: James Gleick
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ALSO BY JAMES GLEICK
Chaos: Making a New Science
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything
What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Information Frontier
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
Copyright © 2016 by James Gleick
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and
distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, Toronto.
Pantheon Books and colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company for permission to reprint excerpts from
“Burnt Norton” and “The Dry Salvages” from Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot, copyright © 1936 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publishing Company, renewed 1964 by T. S. Eliot, and renewed 1969 by Esme Valerie Eliot. Reprinted by permission of
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Name: Gleick, James.
Title: Time travel / James Gleick.
Description: New York : Pantheon Books 
Identifiers: LCCN 2016002323. ISBN 9780307908797 (hardcover). ISBN 9780307908803 (ebook). ISBN 9780375715204 (open
Subjects: LCSH: Space and time—Popular works. Time travel—Popular works.
Classification: LCC QC173.59.S65 G54 2016. DDC 530.11—dc23. LC record available at lccn.loc.gov/2016002323
Ebook ISBN 9780307908803
Jacket by Peter Mendelsund
To Beth, Donen,
Your now is not my now; and again, your then is not my then; but my now may be
your then, and vice versa. Whose head is competent to these things?
—Charles Lamb (1817)
The fact that we occupy an ever larger place in Time is something that everybody
—Marcel Proust (1927?)
Comes. It’s a world. It’s a way.
—W. H. Auden (1936)
Also by James Gleick
Chapter One: Machine
Chapter Two: Fin de Siècle
Chapter Three: Philosophers and Pulps
Chapter Four: Ancient Light
Chapter Five: By Your Bootstraps
Chapter Six: Arrow of Time
Chapter Seven: A River, a Path, a Maze
Chapter Eight: Eternity
Chapter Nine: Buried Time
Chapter Ten: Backward
Chapter Eleven: The Paradoxes
Chapter Twelve: What Is Time?
Chapter Thirteen: Our Only Boat
Chapter Fourteen: Presently
Sources and Further Reading
About the Author
Being young, I was skeptical of the future, and saw it as a matter of potential only,
a state of things that might or might not arise and probably never would.
—John Banville (2012)
A MAN STANDS AT the end of a drafty corridor, a.k.a. the nineteenth century, and in the
flickering light of an oil lamp examines a machine made of nickel and ivory, with brass rails and
quartz rods—a squat, ugly contraption, somehow out of focus, not easy for the poor reader to
visualize, despite the listing of parts and materials. Our hero fiddles with some screws, adds a
drop of oil, and plants himself on the saddle. He grasps a lever with both hands. He is going on a
journey. And by the way so are we. When he throws that lever, time breaks from its moorings.
The man is nondescript, almost devoid of features—“grey eyes” and a “pale face” and not much
else. He lacks even a name. He is just the Time Traveller: “for so it will be convenient to speak of
him.” Time and travel: no one had thought to join those words before now. And that machine?
With its saddle and bars, it’s a fantasticated bicycle. The whole thing is the invention of a young
enthusiast named Wells, who goes by his initials, H. G., because he thinks that sounds more
serious than Herbert. His family calls him Bertie. He is trying to be a writer. He is a thoroughly
modern man, a believer in socialism, free love, and bicycles.*1 A proud member of the Cyclists’
Touring Club, he rides up and down the Thames valley on a forty-pounder with tubular frame and
pneumatic tires, savoring the thrill of riding his machine: “A memory of motion lingers in the
muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go.” At some point he sees a printed
advertisement for a contraption called Hacker’s Home Bicycle: a stationary stand with rubber
wheels to let a person pedal for exercise without going anywhere. Anywhere through space, that
is. The wheels go round and time goes by.
The turn of the twentieth century loomed—a calendar date with apocalyptic resonance. Albert
Einstein was a boy at gymnasium in Munich. Not till 1908 would the Polish-German
mathematician Hermann Minkowski announce his radical idea: “Henceforth space by itself, and
time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two
will preserve an independent reality.” H. G. Wells was there first, but unlike Minkowski, Wells
was not trying to explain the universe. He was just trying to gin up a plausible-sounding plot
device for a piece of fantastic storytelling.
Nowadays we voyage through time so easily and so well, in our dreams and in our art. Time
travel feels like an ancient tradition, rooted in old mythologies, old as gods and dragons. It isn’t.
Though the ancients imagined immortality and rebirth and lands of the dead time machines were
beyond their ken. Time travel is a fantasy of the modern era. When Wells in his lamp-lit room
imagined a time machine, he also invented a new mode of thought.
Why not before? And why now?
THE TIME TRAVELLER BEGINS with a science lesson. Or is it just flummery? He gathers his
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|October 29, 1987|
|Media type||Print, e-book|
|LC Class||Q172.5.C45 G54 1987|
|Followed by||Nature's Chaos|
Chaos: Making a New Science is a debut non-fiction book by James Gleick that initially introduced the principles and early development of the chaos theory to the public. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and was shortlisted for the Science Book Prize in 1989. The book was published on October 29, 1987 by Viking Books.
The first popular book about chaos theory, it describes the Mandelbrot set, Julia sets, and Lorenz attractors without using complicated mathematics. It portrays the efforts of dozens of scientists whose separate work contributed to the developing field. The text remains in print and is widely used as an introduction to the topic for the mathematical layperson. An enhanced ebook edition was released by Open Road Media in 2011, adding embedded video and hyperlinked notes.
Robert Sapolsky said that, 'Chaos is the first book since Baby Beluga where I've gotten to the last page and immediately started reading it over again from the front.'
Freeman Dyson critiqued the book for omitting the earlier work of Dame Mary L. Cartwright and J. E. Littlewood, which he credits as forming the foundation of chaos theory, but also praised it as a popular account.
- ^'Chaos Theory: A Brief Introduction'. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013.[dead link]
- ^Gleick, James. 'National Book Awards - 1987'. Chaos: Making a New Science. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- ^Gleick, James. '1988 Finalists'. Chaos:Making a new Science. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- ^Gleick, James. 'Royal Society Prize for Science Books. Shortlisted Entries'. Chaos. The Royal Society. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- ^Maynard, Andrew. 'James Gleick's Chaos – the enhanced edition'. Review. 2020 Science. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- ^Frenkel, Karen A. (1 February 2007). 'Why Aren't More Women Physicists?'. Scientific American. pp. 90–92. Bibcode:2007SciAm.296b.90F. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0207-90. Retrieved 11 July 2017.