The Possibilities of Time Travel in the Future:
Time travel is the concept of moving from our current position in space and time to a position either in the past or the future. This exceeds the capabilities of our current technology, however there has been decades of discussion, with some developments which could make this possible 1.I’ve chosen to research this topic because of the scientific innovations which could be made possible when using time technology, and how it has become a focus of some of the greatest minds to exist, yet remains a mystery to us. This includes Albert Einstein, who’s theories about special relativity proved that time and space are one thing, space-time. His research shows that we’re closer to time travel than we would think, however reaching full potential of this won’t be so easy 2.
In this essay I will present what we do know about space-time through Einstein and other scientists, as well as the potential problems and solutions that the ability to manipulate time may cause in the future. With such a complicated subject which literally bends the universe around us, there are paradoxes and inconsistencies which require more knowledge to solve. My aim with this is it provide a brighter insight into the endless possibilities which could be achieved by defying our greatest limiting factor, time.
Einstein’s theory of special relativity also states that whilst moving through space-time that time will go slower for the object which is closer to the speed of light, than the objects which are not travelling as close to the speed of light. This means that if someone were to travel through space for a few years in a spaceship, the people left on Earth who were once the same age as them would be significantly older in correlation with the speed of the spaceship. This is, in a way, time-travel 2.
Another theory of Einstein’s was general relativity, from which gravity was explained and later proven. General relativity theory says that massive objects in space cause distortion in space-time 3. Physical models are often used to describe this, as it’s easily demonstrated using a sheet of fabric and a weighted ball 4. There is also a good video called ‘Gravity Visualized’ by ‘apbiolghs’ on YouTube which explains gravity and general relativity practically 5. 0923290
Einstein isn’t the only world renown scientist to provide a theory for time travel, the physicist Stephen Hawking wrote that time travel could be achieved through the usage of blackholes. According to him, if we had the technology to move a spaceship rapidly around a blackhole, the crew in the ship would be going through time half the speed as everyone else back on Earth. “Imagine they circled the black hole for five of their years. Ten years would pass elsewhere. When they got home, everyone on Earth would have aged five years more than they had.” Says Hawking. The limiting factors in this is locating and reaching a blackhole safely and travelling at the speed of light around it once that is achieved. As well as this, physicist Amos Iron added that another limitation is that the spaceship might fall apart before the speed of light is acquired 1.
But there’s more, Hawking has another method, one which includes tunnels through space-time, derived from research by none other than Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen. Together they presented the idea of “bridges” or tunnels through space-time, which could potentially get you from one location in space to another in an amount of time disproportionately small. These bridges gained the name Einstein-Rosen bridges, but are more commonly known as ‘wormholes’ 7.
Decades later, Stephen Hawking writes about wormholes, stating that “wormholes are all around us”; however, they’re much too small to see, let alone travel through. It’s not just space which has wormholes, time has it too, and this is the basis of the second way we could travel through time according to Hawking. Some scientists think that we could capture and stretch wormholes in space to our desired size, to fit a human or spaceship. The wormhole would take us to another place, another entrance somewhere else in space. To travel through time, both ends of the wormhole would have to be in the same location, in different times rather than places 6.
One of the problems with time travel if it ever were to be used is what’s known as the ‘Grandfather Paradox’ which describes the problems that could occur if you were to go back in time to visit your relatives, particularly your grandfather. Say you were to kill him before he had children, surely that would mean you wouldn’t have been born. But then who went back in time to kill him if you never existed? This kind of paradox causes a lot of disruption amongst scientists.
Sadly, there’s another problem, which is creating a wormhole big enough to fit through. This may be impossible because as soon as a wormhole is inflated natural radiation will enter it and get stuck in a space-time loop, causing the destruction of the wormhole. Einstein concludes that unfortunately travelling to the past is likely to be impossible 6.
Although he makes it very clear that this doesn’t rule out time travel to the future, which he remains a strong believer in. Despite time travel being such an impressive and exciting topic, a lot of people don’t think we should be focusing on it while there’s more urgent problems in the world. While this is true, time travel could be the solution that we’ve been looking for. Aging and eventual death is something which can’t be avoided, but Stephen Hawking for example wasn’t nearly done contributing to humanity and the universe, if we had time travel technology it’s possible that we could have sent him far into the future in search of more advanced medicinal techniques. As well as the obvious, time travel may create some surprising advances in science. Visits to the moon and the other space trips have catapulted us into being a scientifically and technologically intelligent species, much more than ever before.
1: Howell, E. (2017). Time Travel: Theories, Paradoxes ; Possibilities. Space.com
https://www.space.com/21675-time-travel.html2: Rayman, Dr. M. (undated). Is time travel possible? NASA Space Place
https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/time-travel.html3: Taylor Redd, N. (2017) Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Space.com
https://www.space.com/17661-theory-general-relativity.html4: “Aeoli Pera”. (2014). Contours of impression. Aeoli Perahttps://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/contours-of-impression/5: Burns, D. (2012). Gravity Visualised. “apbiolghs”, YouTube channel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTY1Kje0yLg6: Hawking, S. (2010). STEPHEN HAWKING: How to build a time machine. Daily Mail.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1269288/STEPHEN-HAWKING-How-build-time-machine.html7: Taylor Redd, N. (2017). What is a Wormhole? Space.com