Time Travel Could Become Reality

February 27 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 10

Time Travel could become reality sooner than you think.

By Dick Pelletier

At a UCLA workshop attended by yours truly and an assortment of future-thinkers, the late physicist Dr. Robert Forward told the group that further understanding of general relativity and quantum mechanics would one day enable humans to travel backwards and forwards through time. “Given the money and the mandate,” Forward said, “a time machine will be built.”

This workshop convened in 1983, and today, 24 years later, scientists are bringing this bold concept closer to reality. Professor Amos Ori at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology recently created a theoretical model of a time machine based on Einstein’s theory of relativity, which would allow people to travel back in time.

Ori’s theory, published in the prestigious science journal Physical Review, describes how a future time machine could be built by forming “closed time-like curves” in a donut-shaped area of space-time. A person traveling around this donut loop would go further back in time with each lap.

Although the laws of physics permit time travel, the concept is laden with uncomfortable contradictions. Say we travel back in time and stop our parents from getting together. This would prevent us from being born; we would not exist and our journey in time could never happen. Scientists call this a paradox; we created a past different from the one that already exists.

Clearly, mischievous time travelers cannot change the present. People are not suddenly disappearing because a rerun of events has prevented their birth. Therefore, something is stopping time travelers from changing our present, and Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, and other visionaries believe they know what it is – parallel universes.

If we travel to the past and prevent our parents from meeting, we are immediately thrust into a parallel universe, similar to our old universe, but one where we never existed. In this universe, we appear as a visiting time-traveler from another universe; however returning home could pose a problem. If roundtrip procedures have been developed, we’re OK; if not, we may be stuck forever in a strange world.

Though construction of Ori’s time machine is beyond today’s science, many believe that exponentially-advancing technologies could turn this dream into reality by the end of the century.

Advantages to time travel are mind-boggling. A glimpse into the future would reveal what our lives will be like in the 22nd century and beyond. Will we find extra-terrestrial intelligent life? And visiting the past could allow us to scan the minds of lost loved ones before they died and bring them into our time to continue their lives.

Four billion years ago, life was only a biochemical machine capable of self-reproduction. Today, we venture into space and study ideas ranging from general relativity to quantum cosmology. We’re already thinking about teleporting people instantly from one location to another; and some bold scientists believe that humanity will one day achieve an indefinite lifespan, eliminating the causes of most deaths.

Who knows how far we can evolve. Will we merge with intelligent machines by mid-century as futurist Ray Kurzweil and others predict? If so, these creations could survive virtually forever with human ideas, hopes, and dreams carried with them. Welcome to our incredible “magical future.”

This article will appear in various print media and blogs; comments welcome. See other published work by Dick at positivefuturist.com and click on the “published work” tab.

Do you believe that time travel will become reality during your lifetime?

or Show Results

Comment Thread (6 Responses)

  1. So, if we were able to travel back in time and changed something, the thought is that it wouldn’t effect our current universe? It would simply change the course of a parallel reality? And if so, what’s the point? There are plenty of things from my past I’d like to do differently, but if the trade-off was to live out the rest of my life on that other course, is it worth it? Would I be able to duplicate all the great experiences of my current life in that other one? Would I have met all the important people that I care about now? I think it’s part of human nature to appreciate hindsight, but isn’t that a part of life, to have experiences, good and bad, to make us learn and grow?

    Posted by: Zora Styrian   February 27, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  2. The theory goes something like this: if you travel back in time and create events that would change today’s present, you don’t actually change anything. You are simply thrust into a parallel universe nearly identical to our present universe, but one that includes whatever differences caused by the changes you made in our old universe.

    Parallel universes seem impossible and insane, but most physicists now believe that they exist.

    It all started when superstring theory, hyperspace, and dark matter made physicists like Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, and others realize that the three dimensions we thought described our universe wasn’t enough. There are actually 11 dimensions.

    Scientists conclude that our universe is just one bubble among an infinite number of membranous bubbles which ripple as they wobble through the eleventh dimension.

    Many theorists now believe that in this many-world “multiverse,” every time a new physical possibility is explored, like creating a past event that would change the present, the universe splits. This provides an infinite number of alternative outcomes – each one played out in its own universe.

    This concept was the premise used in the Gwyneth Paltro movie, “Sliding Doors.”

    Another example: A motorist who nearly missed a collision might feel relieved at his lucky escape. But in a parallel universe, another version of the same driver will have been killed. Yet another universe will see the motorist recover after treatment in a hospital. The number of alternative outcomes is endless.

    Posted by: futuretalk   February 27, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  3. The biggest problem I’ve had in believing time travel (of any useful type, either forward or backward in time) is possible is the issue of a reference frame. If I was sent back in time, just how in this process am I going to appear on the Earth where I was? The Earth will have moved some (probably far from integral) number of times around the Sun, not to mention the Sun will have moved with relation to galactic center, etc. What fixed reference point can possibly link the point of departure and the point of arrival? What fixed directional reference? What about velocity—even if I did appear in the same spot on Earth, somehow, could I not be traveling half the speed of light into the ground immediately upon arrival?

    Posted by: gremlinn   February 29, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  4. Most time travel enthusiasts support the wormhole concept to launch us into the past or future. And as matter cannot be carried through wormholes, at least that is the current view; we would only be able to send ourselves as information – a copy of our mind.

    Of course on arrival, nanobots could be created and they could build a body if necessary, although by the time technology evolves to harness wormholes (probably 2100 or even much later), humanity could be living in a digital world without need for physical bodies at all.

    Granted, to track the location of our time travel destination will take technologies that do not exist today – tomorrow’s super quantum computers may do the trick.

    Will time travel ever become reality or is it doomed to remain a fantasy? One possibility that is bandied about among positive futurists includes the idea that one day we may meet an advanced civilization who has mastered time travel, and they would share their knowledge with us. Who knows how this crazy future will unfold?

    Posted by: futuretalk   February 29, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  5. I believe that backwards and forward time travel will happen in the future. Of course, there is still a lot to learn about time itself. Is it real? Does it flow in one direction only? Does it have a beginning or an end? What is forever? Today, we cannot answer any of these questions with certainty.

    Different researchers have tossed up ideas in which backward and forward time gadgets could be built that do not seem to violate any known laws of physics. But the laws of physics tell us what is possible, not what is probable or practical.

    As a positive futurist, I do not believe anyone who tells me that humans will never have efficient technology for backward and forward time travel. Accurately predicting future technologies is nearly impossible, and history is filled with underestimates of science.

    As humanity embarks on this wild trip through the 21st century and beyond, they will explore space and time to degrees I cannot currently imagine. But I am absolutely convinced that one day the mysteries of traveling through time will be completely understood.

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 01, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  6. In regards to pinpointing where we would arrive in relation to our position on the earth and when, well thats explained using the spacetime continuum, which consists of 3+1 dimensions. 1 for time and 3 for space. using quantum mechanics, it is possible to locate where and when you would appear. the only real issue is the velocity at which one would travel, and slowing down enough to stop from colliding into the earth.

    As for the wormhole theory, its the singularity of which, that mass cannot pass through. The theory stands that, a wormhole is simply a rotating and uncharged blackhole, which basically means the singularity isnt static, and if avoided, the possibility of passing through to the other side exists. This is seen in a Kerr blackhole. The opposite is seen in a Schwarzchilde blackhole (static and charged) passing into one of these would cause the person or object to become subject to the noodle effect, where it is pulled in all directions all at once, by an infinite force, across an infinite space.

    Finally, as for the technology, i firmly believe that it will be achieved by the end of the century, since in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s space travel wasnt thought to be achieved till this century, yet in 1969 we put men on the moon, and since we have put robotics on mars. So is it really that far out of reach??? I dont believe it is.

    Posted by: HeavyMetalFuturist   March 05, 2010
    Vote for this comment - Recommend