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Time Travel Science

Science and Popularity

Usually scientists experiment, which often involves lots of boring things. Sometimes they publish research, which is often somewhat more interesting. And very rarely, they argue with each other because their research conflicts and nobody knows who's right. This is a big part of why time travel is so interesting and popular - it's somewhere between impossible and certain.One of the most interesting disagreements is over the speed of light. We now know that photons (the particles of light) can't go faster than light. The team who made the discovery wasted no time in announcing that time travel had thus been absolutely proven to be impossible. If that isn't a blanket statement to attract lots of public attention, I don't know what is.In fact, they had only shown that this particular mechanism for time travel wasn't going to work. But there are countless others who still disagree, coming up with new and more exotic ways to make photons do their bidding anyway.If time travel was impossible, would scientists ever admit it, or would they keep looking for other ways to do it? Could you ever even prove that time travel is impossible? Is the public interest in time travel making the science of time travel look increasingly less scientific?...

Fact or Fiction: Time Travel Tunnel

This, I think, is where the line blurs between science and fiction - yes, this 400m tunnel in China really does set your cellphone's clock backwards an hour. One journalist traveled through it 10 times and discovered the time travel effect worked on 8 of those. However, it's only your cellphone's clock that goes backwards in time, not you too, which is very disappointing to say the least.Why does this happen? Nobody's quite sure, but the most likely explanation is that the cellphone signal is distorted in some way to report the wrong time to cell phones. Or maybe China's got a secret project going on and they're just testing it with civilian cellphones for now. That way, as this article points out, at least you won't be late for work....

Time Travelling Photons

Dr. John Cramer from the University of Washington has a genius idea for how to send a message faster than the speed of light - since entangled protons update instantly (being exactly the same proton just existing in two places) it should be possible to use them to relay a message instantly. And that would mean that, since the message is going faster than light in space, the messages would be sent back in time in Einstein's universe.It's hard work, not least because doing anything to an entangled particle stops it from being entangled, but it's actually a pretty safe first step since the science surrounding it is pretty well established and, importantly, widely accepted. You can read more about Dr. Cramer here and here....

The man who invented a time machine

Ronald Mallett is by now well-known to many time travel buffs for his 2006 prediction that time travel will be a reality by 2100. He's also a professor of physics, well versed in how Einstein's universe operates. And since then he's personally led the way, building a real time machine prototype.It doesn't work yet but it's pretty close. In fact, you can see it in action and watch him talk about it on the video below.The theory is that rather than trying to cheat the limits imposed by light, Prof. Mallett wants to change light itself by means of circulating lasers, creating a loop in space. Because in Einstein's theory everything is connected in space-time, this loop in space should also be able to produce a loop in time. Granted, if he gets to build his machine for real, he will only be able to send a single neutron through time due to the very difficult nature of the process, but one neutron is a huge step forward! In quantum computing, one neutron means one binary bit of data (ie a yes or a no). Sending a series of bits, it might one day be possible to send an email to yourself in the past (although of course then you'd have already received it).Does the technology hold any promise? Or is it riddled with problems, as the more than one page of issues on Mallett's Wikipedia page would suggest?...

Time Travel Philosophy

When most people think about the science of time travel, they think about physics - but what about philosophy?Okay, it's arguable whether philosophy actually counts as a science. But the scientific challenges of time travel often seem a lot less insurmountable than the philosophical ones. This site presents a very good overview. The four main problems they highlight on their front page are worth quoting:The Grandfather Paradox: Can a person who has traveled to the past kill his or her own grandfather?The Self-Visitation Paradox: Can a person visit himself or herself? How can there be two of one person at once?The Nowhere Argument: If only the present moment exists, how could we travel to the past or the future?The Double-Occupancy Problem: Can a person time travel backwards in time without colliding with him- or herself?Theories of time travel that can be expected to work must somehow deal with these problems and more (although the second and fourth problem do seem very similar). Of course, paradoxes, arguments and problems can be overcome, and there are theories of time travel that do. Also on the site, for some reason, are presentations visualizing the time travel narratives of various fiction, which is pretty interesting....

Scientists make most realistic time travel film ever!

Armed with Einstein's famous equations on General Relativity, New Scientist reports that a team of scientists have created a video of what time travelling actually looks like. Although movies from studios the world over have attempted to give audiences an impression of time travel since sci-fi became a thing, these CGI videos are the first to be scientifically accurate, as opposed to just somebody's imagination. Scientists are already using the videos to discover more about how light has come from distant galaxies and about how the universe came about, virtually time travelling to the very point of creation. Who knows? Maybe scientists in the future are filming you right now as you read this. If you could watch anything in history, what would you watch? Read the story here. You'll need a New Scientist subscription to read the full thing unfortunately....