Time Travel – Is it really possible?
For a many years time travel was solely in the realms of fantasy writers. Now it is very much in the mainstream of scientific thought, and many experts agree that theoretically speaking time travel is definitely possible.
Major breakthroughs in our idea of time came with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Yet ground breaking though this theory was there are still sizeable restraints.
One is that the speed of light cannot be broken, because if it were this would lead to infinite mass and time would just stand still. The other constraint is that while forward travel in time is possible it would be out of the question to travel back to other ages.
Of course science does not like restraints and more recent theories hold that brilliant though Einstein’s theories were they are not so solid as was first supposed. Now there is the feeling that forward, as well as backward time travel will one day be possible.
Defining time is no easy business. We perceive events as having a past or a present but even defining the present is a difficult business. For instance whatever moment you define as the present quickly becomes the past and we see that time is extremely fluid. As for the future – that’s something we never seem to reach and it could be said with some authority that the present – whatever that is – is the only reality we will ever know.
When it comes to time travel it is important that our perception of time should be modified. We nearly always think of time as linear, yet modern experts believe that time may really be circular. In other words we could travel so far into the future that eventually we would come back to the year of our birth.
One of the arguments against backward time travel is that we could go back and alter details of the past that would render ourselves and maybe even the world itself nonexistent. The much quoted example is of traveling back and killing your grandmother, thereby eliminating the steps that led to ones birth. In this theory one would literally cease to exist. But if so then how could one travel back to stop being born in the first place if one did not exist??
Perhaps one answer to this enigma is to think of time as neither just linear or circular but a combination of both. For instance the Earth travels around the Sun once a year whereupon the seasons repeat themselves, but events do not. Perhaps then super time is just a more complex example of going around and forward at the same time, part of both a loop and forward travel. In this system events could be added to even if they appeared to conflict with what had already happened.
The above mentioned circumstances highlight just some of the many conundrums involved in time travel. And that’s just the logic and ethics of the process. Actually constructing a machine capable of time travel is quite another matter.
Major stumbling block.
Although mathematicians and physicists can lay down blue prints for a workable time travel machine, they nearly all suffer from one major drawback. It is the sheer force that such a machine would need to employ. Even by conservative estimates it would necessitate the sort of energy that could only be created by the successful harnessing of at least half the mass of our Galaxy. Clearly a not very practical idea, but one that scientists are sure will present little difficulty for advanced civilisations thousands of years in the future.
Yet another idea theorising the possibility of time travel is one put forward by Princeton physicist Richard Gott.
According to Gott time travel would be possible if one found a way to harness the immense energy of so called Cosmic Strings.
Enormous gravitational force.
Cosmic strings are believed to have been formed in the early part of the Universe. Remarkably they are thought to stretch almost the length of Universe yet are remarkably thin and exert millions upon millions of tons of pressure, and would therefore generate an enormous amount of gravitational pull on anything passing close to them.
Gotts time travel theory involves the close approach of two cosmic strings whose combined influence would be capable of upsetting spacetime in such a way as to make time travel possible.
A time capsule would harness this immense gravity to loop itself around the cosmic strings and thereby propel itself to some point in the past. Sounds simple you might think. And of course it is. Yet Gotts theory has two practical difficulties. The first is that no one is sure whether Cosmic Strings actually exist, and the second problem is one mentioned earlier; that strings capable of generating time travel to even just one year in the past would require half the mass of the Galaxy. But at the very least Gotts theory does prove one thing, that theoretically time travel is at least possible.
Conquering the secrets of time travel however faces one major stumbling block.
It is the requirement that no backwards time travel is possible beyond the age when the time machine was first constructed.
For instance it would be impossible for a time machine built in the year 2000 to travel back to 1945. This inevitably imposes severe limitations. However it is possible that future mathematicians may find a way around this restriction but if not then the realms of time travel become severely limited.
For those just a little disillusioned that perhaps time travel may never be possible within their own life time there is one possibility that offers renewed optimism. It is the concept of Ancestor Simulation.
Virtual Reality on a massive scale.
Ancestor Simulation theorises that in the far distant future – perhaps even in a post human era there may exist sufficient computational power to recreate whole worlds accurate to the minutest detail. In this world of complete virtual reality it would be impossible to distinguish the real world from the simulated equivalent. There is even speculation that each one of us represents no more than an image within a computer simulation – one of millions of different programmes set to mimic reality.
The implications involved in Ancestor Simulation are mind blowing. The central idea is that nothing around us is real, that perhaps even we ourselves amount to nothing more profound that a simulation run by a super commuterised world of the future.
For more details on Ancestor Simulation please turn to our separate feature on the topic.
Sleep and hypnotic regression.
Yet another way that time travel may perhaps be experienced is through sleep or hypnotic regression. In fact the latter technique in which the subject is put into a deep trance has been tried many times already.
In this state of hypnotic trance subjects claim to have journeyed back to the past for the purpose of recovering details or knowledge that could not have been accessed by any other method. Some accounts are remarkably persuasive with subjects able to recount information that is later shown to have full historical validity.
However by no means everyone is convinced of the integrity of hypnotic regression. Claims of fraud are far from rare but the unavoidable fact is that most accounts of hypnotic regression are not easily explained away.
In many cases the facts and information uncovered have never previously been published or otherwise made public, and there is little chance that the subject could have acquired prior knowledge of them. All the more remarkable is that later examination through secondary proof has shown the recovered material or information to have full authenticity as being historically accurate.
Simplest form of time travel.
Although hypnotic regression is not accepted by everyone it does at least offer a fascinating avenue of enquiry into time travel that deserves much closer scrutiny. After all, this method is both cost effective and very easy to attain. It doesn’t require half the mass of the Galaxy to make it work and the early indications are that hypnotic regression may be the simplest way of achieving time travel.
In a similar category to hypnotic regression is the phenomenon known as time slip experience. This does not require for the subject to be placed in a hypnotic trance and is usually an experience which occurs in a full state of consciousness. The subject or subjects involved can be walking along when suddenly the environment about them will abruptly change and they begin seeing that particular location as it was at some point hundreds if not thousands of years ago. The transformation is immediate as if a trap door to another time dimension suddenly opens up to allow a glimpse of events long ago.
It naturally goes without saying that such events can be traumatic and highly unsettling. Some have explained them as an aberration of the mind but very often time slip experiences are witnessed by groups of people and are not just confined to individuals. One example of this concerns the site of the English Civil War battleground of Marston Moor near the city of York in the north of England.
The battle, fought on July 2,1644 led to the defeat of the Royalist forces, and left well over 3000 dead. This was over 350 years ago yet somehow this great battle refuses to be still. Numerous motorists or pedestrians out walking in the vicinity of the battleground have been astounded to see and hear the full sights and sounds of this very costly encounter as if it were taking place right in front of them.
Across the world there are many other examples of this type of timeslip and it seems that scenes of very powerful emotions have somehow etched their record on the landscape in a permanent way. They may not always be active but somehow in conjunction with forces we do not yet recognise the whole scene repeats itself in stunning detail.
Ley line connection.
It is also worth mentioning that many of these time slip experiences have occurred in or around the vicinity of ley lines which are believed to be invisible channels of Earth energy.
Could it be then that something about ley lines with their heightened magnetic energy actually allows travel back in time, or at least facilitates the viewing of events that happened long ago? The truth is we just don’t know. It would be tempting to think so and there is certainly good evidence that timeslips are a form of time travel even if it is impossible to know when or where one is going to occur or what period it will take us back to.