The real life Doctor Who who believes he can build a time machineOh well. I still hope his time machine will work.
by MICHAEL HANLON
Suppose it were possible to go back in time and meet the dead. To say all the things you never got a chance to tell a loved one who died before there was a chance to make your peace.
Just think if you could go back and warn someone that their lifestyle, their smoking or heavy drinking was driving them into an early grave.
You would not only be able to meet the dead - but to save them as well.
A new book tells the story of an extraordinary man whose life work is inspired by a longing to do just that.
It was the devastating sudden death of Ronald Mallett's beloved father which sparked his obsession with time-travel.
In pursuit of his seemingly impossible goal, he has overcome poverty and prejudice to become one of only a handful of top-flight black physicists in the United States.
He has enjoyed a glittering career as a professor at one of the country's leading universities - an achievement in itself.
But there has been only one motivation: to build a time machine. And, after years of painstaking research, Mallett is sure he's cracked it.
Mallett's solution is much simpler. He thinks he can reverse time by using just a circulating beam of light. Light is energy, and energy can cause spacetime to warp and bend, just like gigantic spinning cylinders, he explains.
In 2000, he published a paper showing how a circulating beam of laser light could create a vortex in spacetime. It was, he says, his eureka moment.
The details are complex, to say the least. But, in essence, Mallett believes it is possible to use a series of four circulating laser light beams swirling spacetime around like "a spoon stirring milk into coffee".
If you were to walk into this 'timetunnel' - which would resemble a large vortex of light a few feet across - you could emerge at some point in the past. He thinks he can build a prototype machine in the lab, using today's technology, with funds of just $250,000 (£120,000).
However, Prof Mallett is fussy about who gives him the money. "We want non-military sources. I don't want to get to a certain point and get 'top secret' slapped over the project and have it taken away from us."
There are several important things to realise about Mallett's time machine. For a start, it would only be possible to travel back in time to a point after the machine was first switched on.
If you turned on the machine, on January 1 say, and left it running for three months, you could enter the machine in March and only travel back as far as January 1.
So no trips back to the Middle Ages or to Ancient Rome.
For past PaleoJudaica coverage of Professor Mallett's reserch and of time travel in general, see here, here, and here.