A True Meddler

From Raspberry World – Volume 2, Issue 2 (August/September 2007) University of Connecticut professor Dr. Ronald L. Mallet has written an insightful and absorbing autobiography. His book, Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission To Make Time Travel A Reality, if made into a movie, likely would not be believed, though it is this mans true story. Book titles often have multiple meanings. This books time traveler is apropos at many different levels. Time overlaps, crosses back and takes the reader along, visiting this mans journey through our modern age as he works on his life-long mission to build a time machine. While with him on his personal journey, we re-visit recent history as U.S.A. experiences major transitions. We grow with him from a little boy having a major loss as he, our country, media, science and technology; mature to our exciting present threshold in time.

It might sound a little heady, but it is not. The beginning is instantly absorbing; he keeps his dedication towards his mission quiet and dear to himself. He realizes early on, when he took on his challenge, sharing it too early would lessen his credibility and ability to carry it out. As the book begins, he is finally delivering a paper before his peers, people he has revered, befriended and feared. We chuckle as he loosens up and delivers his formulas to his peers in Washington, D.C. 2002.

Instantly we jump back in time to the brief, happiest, and most important chapter in his life! He is nine-years-old, living a happy childhood with a fine family and father he loved and idolized. In the twinkling of an eye it is gone. This happy healthy black family of 1955 loses their anchor, breadwinner, and father extraordinaire. The oldest, our writer Ronald, draws into himself, and escapes into an unhealthy-unrealistic fantasy-reading world; whereupon he discovers H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. At his young age, he attempts to build his first time machine. His father had been a successful television repair man in the wonder-filled fifties, and his beloved protégée` was his adoring first born. He uses what he learned from his father to try and build a device to travel back in time and warn him of his fate.

Sadly, his first time machine did not work; he learns he needs to learn more. When he discovers Albert Einstein’s work and he knows what he needs to do. He begins to obsess on becoming a theoretical physicist. It is not an easy mission as this now poor black family struggles to survive our turbulent-transitional sixties. He is misunderstood and draws more into his private world. He has only a few friends and it is science fiction that carries him through the lonely times.

As he grows, he learns of prejudice – it was a new and ugly monster he was totally unprepared for. Later on, he joins the service to continue his expensive education and experiences life threatening racism in Texas and Mississippi. As the reader travels on his historical journey, we also time travel through science. We start with Newton and continue along as Ronald discovers of Faraday, Einstein and Bohr. The philosophical moral paradoxes of time travel are often brought up. He has much discussion of the Grandfather-Paradox. He discusses Hawking and Sagan, bringing their digressions together in an exciting conclusion. He remembers his teachers who mentored him and gives them credit and realized a second need for mission in his life – to become a teacher.

As he grew up, television grew up. The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Star Trek were memorably important to him, needless-to-say, especially the time-travel stories. Time-travel films helped carry him through his absorption. He still remembers intelligent and funny films like Back to the Future. Some of the many older and newer films he discusses along the way include The Butterfly Effect, Somewhere In Time, Time After Time, and Frequency. As young Ron grows up, I was able to revisit my growing up. And Ronald’s journey through time has not ended!

The author, Dr. Ronald Mallet, is a teacher who knows how to teach! I now understand more about relativity and quantum mechanics than I ever did before reading this book. The reader learns as the author continues to learn. Presenting his paper before his peers was not the end of this book. Appropriately it jump-starts the beginning of his book. The final chapters of his book catch up through time and take over from there. He is currently working with other physicists to build a small functional, albeit expensive, model. They will use light to reach back into the past. As smart as he is, it takes another to point out something that Dr. Mallet never realized. It is an exciting revelation tying it all together. You’ll discover it and much more for yourself when you read this multifaceted, personally absorbing time-traveling experience.

kWRice

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