The Three Body Problem

January 18, 2017


Shhhhh! The Universe is watching and It’s Dark Out There. That’s The Three Body Problem’s message; a book written by Cixin Liu.

For most Nerds The Three Body Problem is a classical Physics problem: Given masses, current position, and velocity of three bodies (a special case of the n-body problem) there is no way to analytically calculate the motion of these bodies.

The author takes this problem and crafts a spell-binding trilogy (The Three Body Problem is book one) starting with three Suns in erratic orbits causing chaos on the planet Trisolaris. Meanwhile a Chinese Scientist discovers a technique to broadcast RF throughout the Universe using the Sun as an amplifier, and of course Trisolarians receive the signal and respond or the story would be short and boring. They rejoice for they have found another inhabitable planet within 4 Light Years without the disastrous climate swings experienced by a planet in an erratic orbit around 3 Suns. What luck! Of course the Solarians set off to make the Earth their new home. However, since 4 Light Years is a long way off unless you can travel at the speed of light the Earthlings have several centuries to prepare for their coming. Well, the story marches on for seemingly eons of time with both adversaries gaining the advantage from time to time. And just to make the saga a little more interesting the Dark Universe weighs in from time to time.

When the tale has been told and all is said and done (Ecc.) the triology is about the fate of the Universe, not just Trisolaris and Eath.

The books provide the reader with many interesting hypotheses to ponder. For example, Einstein’s two Theories of Relativity declare the Speed of Light constant, but Time is not. Time slows down as gravity increases or relative velocity increases. That’s why clocks tick slower on GPS satellites and a theoretical Space Traveler would age less than their twin on the Earth. Does time slow down as the speed of light decreases? It does in Cixin Liu’s trilogy.

I wrote this review a couple of week’s ago and never did publish it — 70 year old memory? Yesterday I read an interview with President Obama in the NYT times. The subject of the interview was reading. In the article the President mentioned The Three Body Problem was one of his favorite books. How cool is that? Me and the President have something in common. Click Here to read the interview. Also, the review jogged my memory. Hey, I ought to publish my The Three Body Problemreview.

Remember, the Universe is watching and it’s Dark out there …

The Doomsday Book

April 29, 2014

There are many science fiction genres: space opera, steampunk, cyberpunk, etc…  The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis belongs in the near-future and time travel genres I suppose.  The main theme of the book is time travel back to the 1300s  to record life during  the Middle Ages.  The heroine calls her record The Doomsday Book.

The Doomsday Book published in 1992 won both the highly prestigious Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards.

This is the first Connie Willis book I have read and on a scale of 1-5 stars  I would give this book 4 stars.  

The book is set in Oxford England where the hero (Kirvin) is a female student. This alone makes the book unusual. There are not many heroines in science fiction novels. The setting is at the University in a near future (2054) where time travel is possible. A few pages into the book Kirvin travels back to the Middle Ages. Meanwhile life goes on in the near-future with Kirvin’s Professor James Dunworthy as the main protagonist. The book flips back and forth between Kirvin in the Middle Ages and near future Oxford.  

Life both in the Middle Ages for Kirvin and the near future Oxford for Professor Dunworthy is chocked full of trials and tribulations.  They battle tremendous problems in their respective times as the narrative switched back and forth.   

Wikipedia contains a good summary of the book but I don’t recommend reading it if you plan to read the book. It will spoil the surprises.