Back to the Future!

mallett_by_parkeyTime travel has always been the stuff of science fiction, but one Penn State alumna, Ronald Mallett (’69), has spent his life attempting to turn it into reality. Mallett was ten years old when his dad passed away of a heart attack. Inspired by a comic book version of H.G. Wells’ classic The Time Machine, he obsessed about traveling back in time to save his father’s life.

If all this sounds a little kooky, it might be, but Mallett earned his Ph.D in Physics from Penn State in 1973 to further his dream. He currently is a full professor at the University of Connecticut and has written a book titled, Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality. The book has been adapted into a movie under the direction of Spike Lee. It’s scheduled for release in 2010. Professor Mallett’s story was also featured on NPR’s This American Life on January 26th, 2007.

The time machine Mallett has been working on uses the theory of relativity and a ring laser. He argues that, if operated at a high enough power, the ring laser might produce closed timelike curves. These curves would allow travel through time. I don’t really understand it, but, then again, I don’t have a doctorate in physics either.

For those of you that can’t wait to see a little time travel, Professor Mallett has a list of favorite time travel movies on his website. Some of his favorites include: The Time Machine (of course), Deja Vu, Back to the Future, and Timecop.

[HT: Penn Stater Magazine]

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Eli Glazier

Eli is a junior majoring in International Politics. He enjoys paninis and books.

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