The concept of time travel is actually much newer than you might expect.
Tagged with “book:author=james gleick” (12)
Time plays such a big part in our lives, it’s no wonder we’re fascinated by the idea of escaping it. And what better way to escape it that to travel back into the past or forward into the future? This hour, we explore our obsession with time travel. Why is such a recurring them in movies and TV shows? And what can time travel teach us about ourselves?
Time travel is time research
Gleick began with H.G. Wells’s 1895 book The Time Machine, which created the idea of time travel.
It soon became a hugely popular genre that shows no sign of abating more than a century later.
“Science fiction is a way of working out ideas,” Gleick said.
Wells thought of himself as a futurist, and like many at the end of the 19th century he was riveted by the idea of progress, so his fictional traveler headed toward the far future.
Other authors soon explored travel to the past and countless paradoxes ranging from squashed butterflies that change later elections to advising one’s younger self.
Gleick invited audience members to query themselves: If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or to the past?
When exactly, and where exactly?
And what is your second choice?
(Try it, reader.)
“We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said.
Time travel stories apparently help us.
The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension.
Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real.
In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.”
In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.
“Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.”
Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.”
Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment?
That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”
To answer the last question of the evening, about how his views about time changed during the course of writing Time Travel, Gleick said:
I thought I would conclude that the main thing to understand is: Enjoy the present.
Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring.
As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice.
A potted plant lives in the now.
The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time.
That’s what I think time travel is good for.
That’s what makes us human—the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer best-known for novels including the Man Booker Prize-winning Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, both of which are set in the near future. British novelist China Miéville often describes his work as “weird fiction”; his books, including Kraken and Un Lun Dun, have been credited with changing the rules of the fantasy and science fiction genres. Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American novelist, poet, and essayist, as well as author of the recent memoir A Widow’s Story. Her works frequently explore the “other world” located in the human psyche and seek to recreate what she has called “the drama of human personality.”
This panel discussion from the 2012 seminar was moderated by acclaimed science and technology writer James Gleick. He leads Atwood, Miéville, and Oates through a discussion of the tensions between the real and the unreal inherent in writing and reading works of fiction. “All fiction,” says Miéville, “revolves around an oscillation between recognition and estrangement.” “People read or go to art not to get answers,” explains Oates, “but for a thrilling experience that is essentially mysterious.” And while Atwood stresses fiction’s obligation to be “true to life,” she argues that even “ordinary domestic reality” (Gleick’s phrase) often appears surreal, wild, or supernatural when depicted truthfully.
The novelists also discuss the readerly tendency to try to “decode” or “understand” strangeness in fiction and the exceptions to rules that create great works of art. “You can do anything you want” in fiction, says Atwood, “if you can pull it off.” Along the way, the novelists discuss a range of influences and examples, including German author Franz Kafka, Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, science fiction writer J.G. Ballard, philosopher George Santayana, and ghost story writer Algernon Blackwood.
Former ‘New York Times’ writer James Gleick (the man who popularised "the butterfly effect" in ‘Chaos’) has produced the definitive history of the age in which we live, ‘The Information’. In Gleick’s book ‘Information’ he speaks about the information "flood". He talks with Robyn Williams, presenter of ABC Science and ABC Radio National.
We are in a predicament where we have the ability to reach out and get facts easily. Although we may have access this does not necessarily bring with it knowledge. The gatekeepers of information are more important than ever, due to our reliance on these authorities for truth.
This event was presented by Sydney Writer’s Festival 2011
James Gleick is an author, journalist and biographer whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology. His books have popularised concepts such as "The Butterfly Effect" and sold bucketloads around the world. His most recent book, "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood", is being hailed as his crowning work. Gleick is also the author of the bestselling books "Chaos", ‘Genius’, ‘Faster’ and a biography of Isaac Newton. Three of these books have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists, and have been translated into more than 20 languages. James divides his time between New York City and Florida.
Robyn Williams has presented science programs on ABC radio and television since 1972. He is the first journalist to be elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, was a visiting fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and is a visiting professor at the University of NSW.
James Gleick is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Harvard and the author of a half-dozen books on science, technology, and culture. His latest bestseller, translated into 20 languages, is The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, which the NY Times called "ambitious, illuminating, and sexily theoretical." Whatever they meant by that. They also said "Don’t make the mistake of reading it quickly."
This week’s show is dedicated to a discussion of the six books shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
Next week the winner of the prestigious Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books will be announced. Previous winners have included Jared Diamond (twice), Stephen Hawking, Steve Jones, Bill Bryson and Stephen Jay Gould.
To discuss the merits of the shortlisted books (see below), Alok Jha is joined by one of the prize judges, Kim Shillinglaw, who is commissioning editor for science and natural history at BBC TV, and by science writer Ruth Francis, formerly of head of press at Nature Publishing Group.
During the course of this week the Guardian will review all the books online. We’re also giving away two complete sets of the shortlisted titles in our usual science trivia competition.
- The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
- The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
- The Information by James Gleick
- My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank
- Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
- The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe
This year’s winner of the prestigious Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, James Gleick, discusses The Information. Plus, will we see a Briton on the moon in our lifetimes?
Acclaimed journalist, author and biographer James Gleick visits the RSA to tell the story of how information became the modern era’s defining quality - the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.
From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long misunderstood “talking drums” of Africa, James Gleick shows how information technologies changed the very nature of human consciousness.
Providing portraits of key figures including Charles Babbage, Ada Byron, Alan Turing and Claude Shannon, Gleick traces the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information to our present moment, when so often we feel we are drowning in a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets.
Join James Gleick at the RSA to discover how we got here and where we are heading.
For some kinds of books the writing is on the wall, but the concept of the book itself will survive, adapting to new technologies in the delivery of words, argues James Gleick in this timely and provocative Sydney Writers’ Festival Closing Address. The question is: Can we adapt? Gleick is an author, journalist and biographer whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology. His most recent publication, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, is being hailed as his crowning work. Gleick is the author of the bestselling Chaos, Genius and Faster, and has penned a biography of Isaac Newton. Three of Gleick’s books have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists, and translated into more than 20 languages.
James Gleick’s closing address at the @SydWritersFest On the future of the book http://t.co/A2lBV17
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