Attila Domos: Posted on Wednesday, May 09, 2012 9:55 PM
Time travel… who’s not fascinated with the idea? I bet everyone would love to go back in time to either change something for themselves, save the fate of a loved one, bet on a “sure win Superbowl” or to simply meet an idol from history. It’s something that has gripped mankind’s imagination for a long time. Long before Hollywood turned out great movies like “Time Machine”, “Time Bandits”, “Back to the Future”, etc… but… is it theoretically possible? I’m no astrophysicist, nor am I even very good with numbers (beyond basic math… I rock the shit out of basic math), but I am going to kick around a few ideas. I’ll pose some theories, and that is all they are, but these are the type of things I think about in my spare time.
There are two forms of time travel… into the future or the past. We all know that time travel into the future is very possible, and once we get away from rocket fuel technology and turn to better, more powerful and efficient forms of space travel (ion drives, matter-antimatter technology, things of this nature), sooner or later we will be able to travel forward in time. That’s pretty easy. Albert Einstein already gave us the formula for that. We simply need to travel at speeds close to that of light. I don’t have the numbers off top of my head and I’m not trying to be numerically accurate in this statement, since I’m not attempting to physically land a man on Pluto… just think of it like this.
You hop into your brand new sporty space craft, equipped with the latest technology, which allows you to travel at near light speeds. You decide to fly to Pluto, throw a little graffiti on the “has been” planet (perhaps to shame it for being demoted), and then return to Earth. Assuming you make this journey when Pluto and Earth are at their closest points, the round-trip would take you roughly about eight to nine hours, or a third of your 24 hour Earth day. I know there’s a calculation out there which would tell you exactly how much time would pass for everyone else on Earth, but I don’t know it (remember… I’m not an astrophysicist). Let’s just say that way more than eight hours went by on Earth; probably something closer from a couple of weeks to a month. That is time travel into the future. In fact… every time you fly in an airplane, you’re doing a very tiny form of time travel. This theory was proven in the Hafele and Keating Experiment.
There you have it… you’ve now traveled forward in time. Of course it doesn’t seem so exciting because the trip took 8 hours, and you only traveled a few weeks forward in time. What if you could travel hundreds or even thousands of years into the future, with out the possibility of return to your original time line? I’m not sure that the human brain would be able to adapt to a change that extreme, at least not for the long term. Your new “home” would be incredibly alien, you wouldn’t recognize anything, and if you happen to be over the age of 40, it’d be very hard to adapt. You would have to re-learn everything, just so you can fit in and be a functioning member of that society… but initially it would be very exciting.
Imagine what Earth might be like in the year 4012 A.D.? You probably can’t. I don’t think anyone could even come close to what life might be like that far into the future. There are too many variables, with scary thoughts like... - "You might land on an Earth that can no longer support carbon based life forms." -
Who knows… you might have jumped forward into a world that was recently nuked and completely void of any kind of life. Perhaps our ozone layer is gone and all life on Earth was radiated by the Sun. With the assumption that only forward time travel is possible, I would think that this sort of travel should be limited to small leaps… perhaps a few years at a time with vacation stops along the way, to allow the brain the chance to absorb its new surroundings. You might also want to get as much information about the goings-on on this new Earth, to see if your next jump forward might be into a hornet’s nest.
Don’t roll your eyes at me for giving you these warning. I know you know it all, but… it’s just how it is when you’re going into the “unknown” like the future. Don’t get mad at me… I’m not tellin’ you NOT to go, just be careful… is all I’m sayin’.
Time travel is a pretty crazy paradox if you think of it. Travel into the future is definitely possible, but much more dangerous because of the “unknown” factor. On the other hand, traveling back in time would be much safer, since we know our own history and the technological limits of that set time, but figuring out how to get there is nearly impossible. Simply put… to travel to the unknown is easy, but to travel to the known and recognizable is incredibly difficult, if not all together impossible, and here’s where I believe the problem lies.
Think of the universe as a clock and a living-map combination… literally. From our vantage point it appears as one enormous never ending time piece. Nothing with in our universe ever stays the same or in the same place. Perhaps it’s by design, to safeguard information, perhaps it’s simply by chance. I’m not here to debate that, but for the sake of this self-indulging conversation, do think of our universe as a clock/living-map combo.
Immediately after the Big Bang, the universe started to expand, and has been expanding faster and faster. From what I understand, the balance between “dark energy” and ‘dark matter” is mainly what’s responsible for this. Since there’s more dark energy in our universe than dark matter, our home universe continues to speed up in its expansion.
What does this mean? It simply means that like an explosion, everything is moving away from the center, where the Big Bang took place. Not only is everything being pushed away from the center, but the clumps of stars called galaxies are also moving. On top of that, every galaxy has a super massive black hole at its center, which… like a sun, forces all of its stars (a.k.a. suns) to orbit around its massive gravitational pull. Then you have the planets that form around and orbit their stars, and the moons that orbit these planets.
As you can see… everything in space is in constant motion. Moons orbiting their planets, which orbit their stars, which orbit their super massive black hole, which are moving away from the center of the universe, and sometimes collide with one another, to form larger galaxies. In fact… our galaxy (the Milky Way) is swallowing up two small galaxies as we speak.
This is where the problem of “traveling BACK in time” comes along. Let’s say that you want to go back in time and save Julius Caesar from being assassinated by the Senate on March 15th of 44 B.C. This problem leads me to believe that the term “time traveler” is inaccurate. I think it should be “space-time traveler” because in order to get to March 15th, 44 B.C., you’d have to know the exact location of the Earth on that particular day. In essence, you’d have to move everything in the universe (a.k.a. clock/living-map) back to exactly where it was on the day Caesar was assassinated in the Theater of Pompey. This is a HUGE order! Not only do you have to place Earth back in its time and space, but you have to arrange it so every galaxy, black hole, star, planet, moon, nebula, quasar, etc… is back exactly where it was on that “Ides of March” kinda day. Hmm… If perhaps a massive gravitational pull was created at that exact spot in space & time, and at the exact moment you could jump to that location with a faster than light technology… mmm… what? 2.1 gigawatts? Sorry… just kicking some ideas around.
Let’s assume that you are “DA MAAAAN!” and figure out how to travel into the past to save Julius Caesar, there’s still one giant hurdle to overcome.
According to many physicists, the numbers they’ve crunched shows that we don’t live in a universe. Well… we do… we live in OUR universe, but there’s a more recent theory called the “Multiverse” theory also known as M-theory. What this says is that we live in our little “universe bubble” and there are literally an infinite amount of these things out there. Some are very different from our own, meaning that they might not contain any life because the chemistry in their beginning wasn’t correct.
On the other hand, there are also an infinite amount of universes which are identical to ours, the only difference being that perhaps I never wrote this silly blog, or you never read it (you might be happy about that…) or your house is painted blue instead of yellow… whatever… tiny little differences. In fact, the difference might be so tiny that you wouldn’t even notice, because the only thing different is that some where in China, Lee-Chan-Ho was never born.
“Who” you ask?
Exactly! You’d never know the difference.
(By the way… just as a disclaimer… I mean no harm toward anyone who MIGHT have the name Lee-Chan-Ho. I hope this person exists and is prosperous in every universe. It’s just a name I pulled out of my ass, for the simple purpose of this debate the two halves of my brain are having, with my hands playing the role of court stenographer.)
It could very simply be true that even if you could figure out how to travel back in time, and actually move THIS universe back to the exact position where it was on the day Caesar died, you still won’t accomplish your mission, at least not from our point of view. It may be that the moment you leap back in time, you simply disappear from our universe and create an alternate version of this one, complete with the same history, but only up to the point of your arrival in Pompey. From that point on, you’d be creating an alternate time-line where you’ll saved Caesar, but as a result the 60 or so senators come after you and stab you to death!
Great… THAT was worth it!
This muliverse theory can also fix the “grandfather paradox”… you know the one… where you travel back in time and kill your grandfather and as a result you fade away and cease to exist. I don’t know why space-time travelers hate their grandfathers so much, but… since you didn’t actually go back into your original universe’s time-line, but rather created an alternate one, you can ease your worries and kill grandpa as brutally as you’d like. You won’t cease to exist. You didn’t kill your actual grandfather. Sure… the DNA matches and he’s as mean and cranky as ever… but it wasn’t him. It was an alternate reality’s version of him. The only thing that’ll happen to you is that you’ll likely live out the rest of your life on death row in that universe, unless you have a DeLorean that can hit 88 mph (don’t forget to have a fully charged flux-capacitor and 2.1 gigawatts of energy… VERY important!)
It seems to me that our universe has a lot of safe-guards built in. Perhaps quantum mechanics and general relativity are correct in that no information gets lost. Perhaps when you travel back in time, the best you can do is create an alternate universe, and as a result, finding your way back to this one is more improbable than solving the problem of backward time travel, itself.
Maybe… just maybe, backward time travel has already been invented, but scientists inadvertently keep creating alternate universes and aren’t aware of it. I can see it now… a bunch of scientists and explorers keep disappearing, one after another… like lemmings over the edge of a cliff. From their points of view, they’ve traveled back to our past. The only problem is that it’s not THIS universe’s past… but they can’t tell the difference, because Lee-Chan-Ho is in all of them… AND he’s PROSPEROUS!!
- Yeeeeey for Lee-Chan-Ho! :)
"Because You Shouldn't be Afraid to Chase Your Dreams"
a book by: Attila Domos
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Attila Domos is a musician/wheelchair athlete/author/digital artist/film maker/ entrepreneur and occasional blogger.