Book Log – Time Traveler

Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Dr. Ronald L. Mallett with Bruce Henderson

terracinque got me this a couple years back, charging me with reading it and letting her know if it was any good.

Well, it’s okay.

The book itself is fine, tells a sort of interesting true-life tale of the young black man, Ronald Mallett, who loses his father, and as a result aspires to become a scientist so that he can invent a time machine like he read about in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

In the end, he has come up with a model that would possibly allow time travel. The book ends with him searching for funding to do the experiments that would lead to the device, around 2006-2007. The concept is neat from the narrative possibilities: using lasers, you create a circle of light which according to the math, at sufficient power, creates “closed timelike lines” which would be a key to time travel.

The ramifications provide an interesting basis for a time travel story, and in fact, is pretty much the basis for independent film “Primer”.

– You can’t travel further back in time than when the time machine is first turned on.
– You only enter in and out of the machine… the machine is not TARDIS like, in that if it’s in a lab, you enter and exit there, not, say, in Ancient Egypt.
– The old grandfather paradoxes can still be in play, unless rectified by the infinitely splitting universes theory.
– It also solves the moving galaxy issue, where if you’re in a Delorean time machine and you go back to 1955, wouldn’t you end up at the point in space where the Earth was at that time, many thousands of miles away in space? In this way, the time machine is rooted to the Earth, giving fixed reference point for safe travel, like an infinite slinky.

You can imagine turning on the machine, and instantly hundreds or thousands of people from the future walking out.

With this all in mind, I was of course disappointed that the book ends without any experimental progress.

So, of course I take a trip over to Wikipedia to see where he’s gotten to. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t gotten anywhere, and furthermore, some very severe objections have been raised to his theory. There’s a bunch of math stuff, but the kicker is that “even if Mallett’s choice of spacetime were correct, the energy required to twist spacetime sufficiently would be huge, and that with lasers of the type in use today the ring would have to be much larger in circumference than the observable universe.”1

So. It wouldn’t fit in a Delorean.

1 Wikipedia article on Ronald Mallett