Tag Archives: Time Travel

Book: Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell

Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

A perfected, revised sequel to A Brief History of Time suitable for everyone!
216 pages, ★★★★★

I read somewhere in one of Michio Kaku’s books that Stephen Hawking admitted making a blunder about predicting the existence of universes in which time runs backwards. (This is exactly the criticism I had when I reviewed Hawking’s last book, here.) This book, The Universe in a Nutshell, is a perfect sequels it hall such blunders corrected. It inspires, it educates, and it has an enchanting blend of humorous prose and engaging graphics. It’s suitable for all ages, which, especially for a physics book, is very difficult to do.

The Universe in a Nutshell describes the history of our universe, the nature of space-time (including relativity and red-shift) and what might be possible if we were to take full advantage of the science we are starting to understand. The concluding chapter, touching on time travel and teleportation, makes enough predictions to inspire young people to study science without getting too lost in conjecture. In my opinion, the concluding chapter strikes a perfect balance between fact and fiction.

I found this book much easier to understand than The Illustrated A Brief History of Time. Many of the illustrations are the same but the text in this book is clearer. This is one of few books I’d recommend for anyone, of any age, in any career or discipline. ★★★★★


Book: The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
If McDonald’s® sold books, they’d sell this one. It’s fat, greasy, bitesize, objectionable and tasteless.

Fast, bite-sized and tasteless.
560 pages, ★

Critics were right to call The Time Traveler’s Wife “sexy” in their reviews. It’s “sexy” because it’s absolutely overloaded with sex: sex in the form of extra-marital affairs (which could possibly be excused by time travel), sex in the form of Henry f*cking Clare, and—mostly—sex in the form of Clare f*cking Henry. Sex and time travel are the only two aspects of this book that will stick in my mind.

The story is very simple: Henry and Clare meet, get married, and then attempt to have a baby. The book is written as an amalgamation of their two diaries, with the date and each character’s ages written at the top of each entry. The difference between Henry and Clare’s ages is a little disturbing (30 and 22 in “real time”, or 36 and 6 during an episode of “time travel”).

But time travel in this book is scientifically flawed. On page 322, we discover that this ability is the result of four very authentic-sounding genes: per4, timeless1, Clock and  an ‘unnamed gene’, and the book’s sleeve describes Henry’s time travel as “periodical genetic clock reset”. But by plotting their ages onto a chart, we notice two strange phenomena:

Time Travelers Wife Ages Chart
Henry and Clare’s ages from The Time Traveler’s Wife plotted against time. People who don’t time-travel age in a straight line. Two adjacent dots indicate two of the characters co-existing (and sometimes interacting).

First, Henry’s time travel can’t be due to “genetic clock reset” because he almost always travels backwards in time, not forwards.

Second, look at the uppermost orange dot on the chart. This shows that the end of the novel, Clare, too, travels back in time.

So what’s going on? The author tells us at one point that Henry is schizophrenic and all his time-travel is a hallucination. But if that were true, then he’d be able to hallucinate about the past but not step into the future and change it. It also doesn’t explain Clare’s diary entries from the future—unless the whole book is a hallucination. Either way, I no longer care. ★★