When he received his doctorate in 1973, [Ron] Mallett was one of only 79 black Ph.D. physicists among about 20,000 in the U.S., he says. While he detects more tolerance in the profession now, the discrimination — the idea that a black man can’t be this smart — has not disappeared.
Mallett says he kept his work on time travel secret for years partly because colleagues would conclude he was a crackpot unfit for tenure. If he worked openly and with others, he also worried white physicists would get all the credit.
“I’m afraid that’s how it would work,” Mallett says.
He built his first time machine in the basement of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, home where his mother moved him and three younger siblings from the Bronx after their father’s death plunged the family into poverty. He was 11 and had just read “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. The odds and ends he slapped together didn’t work. He knew he would need the science.
He was miserable much of the time growing up, depressed and isolated. He was an average student. Electronics, English and math were the exceptions.
Mallet says he owes everything to his father, and he wants to give his theoretical equations a chance to be put into practice, maybe to see him again. There's a lot more to this story than just temporal physics, and hell, I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, he's got this figured out.