Scientists love time-travel fantasy too; for real

July 31 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Movies like Time Machine, Back to the Future, Terminator, and “One Moment in Time”: bring out the little child inside us. We love to fantasize about going back in time to see what might have been, or to alter some predicament in our life. Scientists get excited over this fantasy too – some even believe we can turn this fictional genre into reality.

Einstein stated that people traveling at near light speeds would age more slowly than those remaining stationary. Inhabitants of a fast-moving spaceship would experience forward time travel. And if traveling faster than light, they would go backwards in time.

Atomic clocks flown in space proved Einstein correct, and many top physicists now express views that time travel could someday become possible.

Cal-Tech’s Kip Thorne was the first to publish a scientific paper with the words “time machine” in the title. Thorne worried that reporters might ballyhoo the article causing colleagues to ignore it – but instead, his work brought other scientists out in the open.

World famous physicist Stephen Hawking, Cosmologist Igor Novikov, and others began publicly debating the pros and cons of time travel.

Thorne focused on the actual time machine. He suggests that if we create a wormhole, accelerate one end to nearly the speed of light and bring it back, we would have a time machine. We could enter the machine and travel to both past and future.

But a recent Better Humans article suggests our frail bodies could not stand up to wormhole pressures. Solution: upload our mind and travel as information; then reassemble on arrival using nanotechnology.

Now what about the so-called paradox? Say we travel back in time and prevent our parents from getting together. This would prevent us from being born; we would not exist, and our journey in time couldn’t happen.

Theoreticians offer two probabilities: The past is already defined and can’t be changed – something will always prevent time travelers from changing the past. Or, changing the past immediately creates a parallel universe where our parents were never together – our original universe still remains. Stephen Hawking explains the origin of our universe in a variation of this parallel-worlds theme.

Will time travel happen? Ron Mallett at University of Connecticut believes he found a way to make time travel happen using light waves, and is seeking National Science Foundation funding. Others agree. French astro-physicist Jean-Pierre Luminet: “time travel is a wonderful dream that may be permitted by tomorrow’s physics.” Retired Gen. Wesley Clark: “I happen to believe mankind can do it” (referring to faster-than-light travel).

As early as sometime during the 2100s, massive discoveries could appear that would make round-trip tickets to the past and future a reality. And if someone knocks on your door one day and claims to be your great great granddaughter; don’t slam the door – she could be a time traveler. Comments welcome.

Will time travel ever become reality; if so, when?

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Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. I loved reading what scientist had to say about this. Very interesting.

    If time travel does one day become possible, wouldn’t the travelers already be here now? Maybe they are all in hiding or in insane asylums.

    Time travel is always an interesting thing to think about. Given the unknowns of the future, I think I would rather go back in time.

    Posted by: Mielle Sullivan   August 01, 2008
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  2. Mielle, the question you posed, was also asked by Stephen Hawking: “If time travel is possible, why haven’t we been overrun by tourists from the future?”

    Carl Sagan probably answered this best. “We might not have seen time travel because it requires a level of technological sophistication that we may never achieve as a civilization. Effects of global warming, war or famine might just end our civilization before we ever reach the level of technological sophistication needed to create a time machine.

    However, “On the other hand,” Sagan mused, if we are advanced enough to create a time machine, we should be able to have technology that would hide us from today’s world.

    Forward-thinking scientists at the Cern Large Hadron Collider and in universities throughout the world believe that time travel will one day become possible. Today, it’s beyond the reach of our technological capabilities, but if and when our “magical future” arrives, and if I’m still around, I would like to be first in line to hitch a ride back to the future.

    Posted by: futuretalk   August 01, 2008
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