Time Travel to the Future Is 'Definitely Possible,' Says a Leading Scientist

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 11:15AM
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 11:15AM
Time Travel to the Future Is 'Definitely Possible,' Says a Leading Scientist
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Image credit: YouTube
We've all dreamed of time travel. There's something wonderfully appealing about transporting into another era of history, whether it means rocketing off into the future or zooming back into the distant past in order to make sure our parents fall in love at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Despite our collective enthusiasm for this subject matter, there hasn't been a lot of progress made in the field of time travel over the past century. The core concepts introduced to readers of HG Wells' The Time Machine are still as far-fetched and difficult to comprehend now as they were when the book was first written. It may seem to some as if time travel will simply never be invented, no matter how many crazy-haired scientists endanger the lives of their teenage sidekicks in an effort to make it happen.

The good news is that time travel more than likely is actually possible, provided scientists can develop a large enough spaceship. The catch is that this time travel would really only allow movement into the future, which may explain why history doesn't feature a wide-eyed scientist appearing out of nowhere to kill Hitler.

In a new video for Business Insider, scientific expert Professor Brian Greene, professor of Math and Science at Columbia University and founder of the World Science Festival, explains that thus far, we really only have a surefire method of traveling to the future.

The good news is that it more than likely will work, so long as our current understanding of gravity proves accurate.

Essentially, the trick to moving into the future is to alter a person's gravity to the point that time slows down around them.

This can be done through one of two ways: either the person can accelerate in a spaceship, or they can spend time on a planet near a particularly dense star or black hole.

The closer a person gets to the speed of light, the heavier they become, and therefore, the slower time moves for them.

Even time can't escape the pull of gravity, so a person traveling fast enough will perceive the universe as if everything around them is movie faster than they are.

Returning to normal speed, an astronaut would notice that society has advanced, generations have passed, and, if they're very unlucky, super-intelligent apes have taken over planet Earth.

Alternatively, this can be achieved by spending too much time near a supernova, as seen in Interstellar, or by getting too close to a black hole, as is illustrated in the final two episodes of season 10 of Doctor Who.

Again, time can't escape from the pull of gravity, so things slow down for people near to these large, heavy celestial bodies.

As far as time travel into the past is concerned, though, Greene notes that many scientists consider it impossible.

The only plausible way traveling into the past, based on our current understanding of the universe, would be if a person could successfully travel through a wormhole that connects two points in space and time.

This could, in theory, allow a person to appear on one end of the wormhole before they stepped into it on the other end.

What Greene fails to mention is that even creating a theoretical wormhole that doesn't instantly disappear has proven very difficult for scientists.

Wormholes are very dense, and therefore, have a large gravitational pull, so they collapse in on themselves as the walls of the wormhole are attracted to each other. There's no doubt got to be some more work in order to perfect a method of traveling back in time, but at least that means you've got time to work on your Chuck Berry guitar playing before you get the chance to visit the 1950s.

That said, there's nothing to say that humans won't, at some point in the future, discover a method of traveling into the past.

Perhaps if we ever perfect time travel into the future, we can take the example of Professor Farnsworth in an episode of Futurama, and use our time machine to try to find a point where technology has evolved far enough for someone to have access to a backwards time machine.

It's not a perfect solution, but it beats taking the slow path to the invention of a genuine working Tardis.
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