Time travel will become reality in future, physicists say
By Dick Pelletier
The idea of traveling through time has
always fascinated us. We love to dream about going back in the
past to change a traumatic event that still bothers us, or
glimpse at the future to see how our life will unfold; will we
find success and happiness; what wild technologies can we
The ‘grandfather paradox’ is the argument many people
use to suggest that time travel is impossible. What if you went
back in time and prevented your grandparents from meeting so
that your mother was never born? Then you would never have been
born… and so on.
In the movie Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox
struggles to avoid a paradox when he goes back in time and meets
his mother as a teenager, who promptly falls for him. However,
if she spurns the advances of Michael’s future father, then his
very existence is threatened.
Until very recently such arguments led most scientists
to believe that time travel could never exist outside science
fiction. However, new interpretations in the weirdness of our
quantum world now suggest that time travel is not only possible,
but will one day provide major benefits for our future.
Physicists offer two possible solutions to time travel
paradoxes. The first goes like this: nobody can change the past;
once an event happens, it appears in our timeline and will never
change. Our future is preordained.
The second focuses on quantum technologies which states
that not only are there multiple futures, but they happen in
different universes. If we travel back in time and prevent our
grandparents from meeting, this immediately transfers us into a
universe exactly like the old one, except in this one, we never
existed; we appear as a stranger from another universe. However
we can never return home – bummer.
Although black holes and cosmic strings offer hope of
traveling through time, most physicists believe that wormholes
represent our best shot. Wormholes are theoretical shortcuts
through space and time that connect two distant points, like a
worm tunnel in an apple.
Cal Tech’s Kip Thorne showed
that we could control wormholes if we used an exotic form of
matter, which experts believe might come from ‘phantom energy’,
a mysterious dark matter that comprises up to seventy percent of
the universe. Lisbon University’s Francisco Lobo believes
"An advanced civilization could mine the phantom energy
necessary to construct and sustain a traversable wormhole”,
making time travel possible.
How would civilization benefit from this wild
technology? We could retrieve scanned minds from lost loved ones
the night before they died; upload them into new bodies allowing
their lives to continue. We could also search the future for
dangers that might befall humanity, and then develop defenses.
When might time travel become reality? Forward-thinkers
believe that advanced nanotech, quantum computing, and
artificial intelligence will enable technologies necessary to
harness wormholes within 200 to 500 years; so if life extension
enthusiasts are correct, many people alive today will experience
time travel in their lifetime.
And if someone should knock on your door one day and
claim to be your great-great-great-great granddaughter from the
future don’t slam the door – she could be a time traveler.
This article appeared in various print publications and
on-line blogs. Comments always welcome.