Time Travel in Altoona (and Elsewhere)

February 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Ronald Mallett

Ronald Mallett

You might have heard of Penn State grad Ronald Mallett ’69, ’70g, ’73g, who has spent the better part of his career trying to build a time machine—and whose story has attracted the attention of filmmaker Spike Lee.

Mallett was 10 when his father unexpectedly dropped dead of a heart attack, and ever since then, Mallett has been obsessed with seeing his father again. He wanted to go back in time to warn his dad about the dangers of his two-pack-a-day smoking habit and thus maybe change the outcome. Sounds crazy, huh? But today Mallett is a very respected physicist—he teaches at the University of Connecticut—and has shown that time travel is not as far-fetched as once thought. He was named an Alumni Fellow of Penn State a year or so ago and wrote a book called Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality, which Spike Lee is turning into a movie for release in 2010.

The reason I mention all of this is twofold. One is that Mallett will be speaking at Penn State Altoona (where he attended before finishing at University Park) next week. He’s scheduled to appear Monday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Slep Student Center; he’ll read from his book, talk about his work—and about being the subject of a Spike Lee film—and sign books. The event is free and open to the public.

The other reason I mention it is that we’re planning a feature on Mallett. We sent Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g up to Storrs, Conn., to hang out with him yesterday, and she came back raving (in a good way!) about the experience. Mallett is a great interview, she says, and she got to see the prototype of the time machine, which, she reports, “is in a lab in a building far from campus, back in the woods, next to what’s known as The Puppet Museum. It’s like UConn was like, ‘We’ll just keep the time machine and the puppets WAY back here, where no one EVER goes, so no one will ever know….'”

I can’t wait to get Vicki’s story. It will probably run in either the May/June or July/August issue.

Tina Hay, editor

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