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Jim Al-Khalili, Black Holes, Worm Holes & Time Machines, 1999

Jim Al-Khalili, Black Holes, Worm Holes & Time Machines, Taylor & Francis, 1999, xxiii + 265 pages, ISBN : 0-7503-0560-6.

Preface […]

Because of the way this book developed it has been written with a teenage audience in mind. However, it is aimed at anyone who finds its title fascinating or intriguing. It does not matter if you have not picked up a science book since you were fifteen.

So how did this book come about? Well, about three years ago the then head of my physics department at the University of Surrey, Bill Gelletly, suggested that I should give, as one of a series of lectures to first year undergraduates covering a range of general interest topics in modern physics, a lecture on ’wormholes’. Such a topic is certainly not part of a traditional undergraduate degree course in physics. In fact, fans of the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are probably better informed about wormholes than your average physicist. Anyway, I thought it would be fun, and proceeded to do some background reading in preparation for the lecture. On the day, I was surprised to find in the audience many students not on the course, as well as postdoctoral researchers and members of staff. There seemed to be something magical about the title.

Each year, my department sends out a list of speakers, from among its academic staff, and lecture titles to local schools and colleges. This is mainly as publicity for the department in the hope that these lectures might play a part in our recruitment drive to attract new students. I offered my ’wormholes’ talk as one of these. Such was its success, I was asked by the Institute of Physics whether I would be the 1998 Schools Lecturer. This involved the substantially greater commitment of having to travel around the country giving the lecture to 14—16 year—olds, with audiences of several hundred at a time. And, having put a significant amount of preparation into this performance, I found that I had accumulated far too much fascinating material to cram into a one hour lecture and decided to put it all down in a book.

I have tried as much as possible to be up to date. In fact, when the manuscript came back to me from the publishers for final corrections and changes, I had to completely revise the chapter on cosmology. Due to recent astronomical discoveries, many of the ideas about the size and shape of the Universe had changed during the few short months since I had written that chapter.

Jim Al-Khalili
Portsmouth, England, July 1999

P. x-xi.
Acheté chez Pêle-Mêle à Bruxelles, le vendredi 22 septembre 2017, en sortant du bureau vers 18 h sans rien à lire pour aller au café.