Some ramblings about time travel.

As I sit and read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking my mind wanders to time travel and the possibilities contained therein.

Time travel is a ‘hobby’ of mine. I am very much interested in the field in both a scientific and sci-fi manner. I am reading the Time Ships by Stephen Baxter. This is the authorised sequel to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, a master of the art of sci-fi. Other books I am currently reading are Hyperspace, a pop sci book by an author whose name I can’t remember and am rereading A Brief History of Time.

I went to the cinema to see Donnie Darko for the third time on Thursday and time travel plays quite heavy in it. A Brief History of Time is mentioned, as is the Delorian from Back to the Future. I am reminded of an episode of The Outer Limits in which a man studies the causes and effects in a simple scenario which he then rewinds and plays over an again. I am also reminded of an episode of Disney’s Ducktales in which Huey, Duey and Luey somehow get hold of a watch which can slow time, pause it and rewind it.

With the ability to control time, one could stop bad things happening and allow good things to happen. Pausing time would give you more ‘time’ (non-time?) to do the things that needed doing. It would allow you to travel faster than the speed of light, relative to a viewer, which means that you could ‘break’ Einstein’s famous E=mc² equation.

You see, as an object moves closer to the speed of light (c) it’s mass (m) gets closer to infinity and the energy required to move this object (E) also moves closer to infinity. To travel at the speed of light an object has infinite mass and therefore the energy required to move it is infinite, i.e. impossible.

I don’t know who proposed it, but, if you distort the space in front of an object so that it is compressed, then an object could essentially move across this space faster than the speed of light. The craft actually travels less than the speed of light, but the distortion in space makes it seem faster.

Gravity causes distortion in space and pulls light and, theoretically time towards the object creating the gravity. All objects create gravity and interact with each other.

In an episode of Red Dwarf, the crew find a ‘stasis leak’ and step through to a former version of the ship. This is like the idea that two Black Holes could be connected to form a wormhole, which could be traversed. This wormhole could link two parts of space, which could be moved between instantly, or they could link separate parts of space-time, allowing time travel.

In Stephen Baxter’s book ‘Time’. A message is received from the future. The characters build a machine to receive messages from the future based on a theoretical means of sending the signal. In the future the theory turns into reality and a message is sent back.

Possibilities, Endless. Where would you go and what would you do? I have a great number of things I would like to see. JesusSermon on the Mount is an obvious choice. I’m not a religious person at all, but I do believe that Jesus existed. I think that he was probably a radical Jewish revolutionary and I would like to have met him and even tell him about the wars and stuff that would be done in his name.

I would like to fast forward through time from x B.C.E. and watch the evolution of the species. I could meet some heroes of mine. Leonardo Da Vinci, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe. Watch the building of the pyramids and the fall of the Berlin Wall. See the Beatles play in Hamburg 1960. Watch some of the great scientific advancement’s: - Structure of DNA, Discovery of Penicillin. See where the world is going and if the species survives much longer (after all we are losing the war with bacteria).

Is time travel possible then? Well, it appears not. If you could travel back in time then why doesn’t anybody know about it? If there is an infinite future ahead of us, then somebody is bound to have come back and told us. Or somebody will have warned us about many things. So this leaves travelling forward in time, which is very uncertain. If will have free will (an assumption of course) then we can choose any number of different futures for ourselves, therefore there cannot be one definitive future to travel to.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me. Just remember this saying : - “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so” – Ford Prefect, The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy.