Books : reviews

J. Richard Gott.
Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: the physical possibilities of travel through time.
Weidenfeld & Nicholson. 2001

A renowned astrophysicist leads time travel out of the land of science fiction and into the realm of possibility with an exciting new theory about the origin of the universe.

Time travel in Newton’s universe was inconceivable, but in Einstein’s universe it has become a possibility. J. Richard Gott III, a Princeton astrophysicist who is a leading researcher in the field, gives readers a guided tour of the potential of travelling through time. Joining scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne who have previously considered the topic, the delightfully refreshing yet scrupulously careful Gott charts new territory in exploring this exciting idea.

Gott begins by describing how the finest science fiction about time travel has inspired some of today’s top scientific ideas on the subject. He goes on to explain how travel to the future is not only possible but has actually happened (astronauts have aged slightly less than we whose feet have stayed solidly on earth), and he examines whether travel to the past might also be possible, given certain physical conditions. He then offers up his most stunning material: the study of time travel can be used to discover whether the universe could have created itself. Finally, asserting that no book on time travel would be complete without a report from the future, Gott predicts the span of human existence, based on a scientific technique he has developed. His conclusion is humbling but wondrous: just in the short time we have lived so far, consider how much we have already learned about the universe.

Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe is a book to read not only for its extraordinary subject matter and scientific brilliance but also for its joyful writing.

J. Richard Gott.
The Cosmic Web: mysterious architectureof the universe.
Princeton University Press. 2016

J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies—a magnificent structure now called the “cosmic web.” Here is his gripping insider’s account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos. The Cosmic Web begins with the story of modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy and also draws on Gott’s own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today's leading cosmologists—showing how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead.