What If Time Travel Was Possible?

Where and when would you go, if you could?
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What if the dimension of time was no different from the three dimensions of space we live in?

What if you could travel to the past and to the future…. the same way you can move right or left, up or down?

Delorean art. Image Source: MsSaraKelly on Flickr

Would you be able to change your past? And if you did, would it create a time paradox?

Image Source: cogdogblog on Flickr

What kind of time machine would you need to build, anyway?

Image Source: Matt Buck via Wiki Commons

This is WHAT IF, and here’s what would happen if you had a time machine.

Image Source: yumikrum on Flickr

How many times have you wished you could jump in a time machine and skip that boring meeting?

Image Source: Yle Archives on Flickr

Or choose a better comeback in that argument last week? Time travel sounds like some wild fantasy that only happens in sci-fi movies, but we’re actually traveling in time every day.

Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr

Albert Einstein found that time is not a constant, but is continually moving forward, and we are moving forward with it. To put it simple, while you walk, not only you move in space, but also in time.

A robot chef at Epcot. Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr

According to Einstein, time is the fourth dimension, and together with three-dimensional space it’s fused into a single four-dimensional continuum – spacetime.

Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr

If you think of traveling in space, moving upwards is a bit of a challenge unless we get on a plane, or at least take the stairs.

Image Source: Eric Marshall on Panoramio

So maybe we just haven’t come up with a proper machine to travel in time yet?

Time travel could be dangerous. Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr.

The secret to time travel isn’t in some exotic form of matter. What you’d need is a spaceship that could travel almost as fast as light. Einstein’s theory of relativity taught us that the faster we move through space, the slower we move in time.

Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr

Let’s assume you were in a spaceship traveling at 99.9% the speed of light – to a potentially habitable exoplanet some 40 light-years away.

Would you visit Torino’s 1961 Expo? Image Source: BEIC Foundation

You find some primitive life forms and speed back to Earth to share your discovery.

Image Source: Colin and Sarah Northway on Flickr

But when you finally make it back to Earth, you discover that all of your colleagues are now very, very old.

Tomorrowland. Image Source: Angelo DeSantis on Flickr

From your perspective, you had only been away for about two years. For people on Earth, you had been gone for 80.

Pick a number. Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr.

This phenomenon is known as time dilation. It’s not likely to happen to you though, because travelling with the speed of light isn’t quite possible with the technologies we have now. The fastest piloted vehicle we’ve ever created – Apollo 10 – reached the speed of 11,000 meters per second.

The speed needed for time travel is somewhere around 299,000,000 meters per second. On top of that, accelerating at that speed would cause an enormous centrifugal force. A force that would rip you apart before you came anywhere close to light speed.

1964 New York World’s Fair. Image Source: Doug Coldwell via Wiki Commons

Looks like our bodies just can’t handle the speed of light.

Image Source: kouij OOTA on Flickr

But hey, we still have wormholes. Einstein predicted that these theoretical tunnels link two separate places and two different times. A shortcut to another universe, and to another time.

Image Source: Laurent Bélanger on Wiki Commons

A wormhole sounds like a real-life time machine. Not that anyone has ever observed one, but even Stephen Hawking believed that there are plenty of them around us.

Past, Present, or Future? Image Source: Matias Garabedian on Flickr

The problem with wormholes is that they are extremely tiny – just a billion-trillion-trillionths of a centimeter across.

Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr

No human would be able to pass through. I can barely fit in my jeans from last year.

Image Source: National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

If only we could capture a wormhole, we might be able to enlarge it.

Imagine a giant tunnel above the Earth leading to another planet.

Image Source: James Robert via Wiki Commons

And, theoretically, if we put both ends of a wormhole in the same place, but in different times, we could step into a wormhole and come out in a distant past.

Image Source: BazzaDaRambler on Flickr

But wormholes have their issues.

They’re very short-lived, and traveling into the past would create paradoxes.

Image Source: Graham Crumb via Wiki Commons

Like the one in which you go back in time and convince your grandmother never to get married. You grandmother didn’t give birth to your dad, and he didn’t have you.

Image Source: Thomas Abbs on Flickr
Image Source: Faisal Akram on Flickr

But if you didn’t exist, who went back in time to talk your grandmother out of marrying your grandfather.

Image Sourece: NASA

Time is linear – it only goes forward. For that reason, we can only travel into the future, not the past. In fact, astronauts that spent about a year on the International Space Station are now living in the future compared to us.

Image Source: NASA

Even though it’s just 13 milliseconds in the future, they are proof that traveling in time is possible.

And maybe, if we get the chance to study them, wormholes could open a whole different world.

Image Source: Ryan on Flickr

A world where the laws of physics work in a different ways and traveling to the past is possible.

…we can do it? Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr
Image Source: Oto Godfrey and Justin Morton

Would you dare to step into a time machine not knowing where it would take you?

Futureport Departures sign at Horizons at EPCOT Center. Image Source: Sam Howzit on Flickr
Image Source: NASA



Facts About Time Travel:

Image Source: cogdogblog on Flickr

Steven Hawking once claimed time travel was impossible, but later changed his mind.

Image Source: takato marui on Flickr

Some scientists theorize that due to the ‘Grandfather Paradox’, time travellers would be unable to change the past without destroying their original future.

Image Source: Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team on Flickr

The grandfather paradox is named for the idea that if a time traveller travelled to the past, killed their own grandparent before their parents’ conception, it would prevent the time traveller from being born.

A theorized solution for the grandfather paradox is that each change creates an alternate universe.

Image Source: Alan Levine on Flickr

In the situation where you killed your grandfather, you would return to a universe where you had never existed.

Image Source: Rob Thomas on Flickr

China has banned portrayals of time travel from their television shows, on the grounds that time travel is disrespectful to history.

Most scientists agree that if time travel were possible, we would be able to detect traces of past time travellers.

Image Source: BEIC Foundation

Time travel is heavily featured in the long-running BBC television program Doctor Who.

Image Source: Tobias Wrzal on Flickr

Doctor Who has been on the air since 1963.

Image Source: Paul Scott on Flickr

Other time travel theories include the Tipler cylinder, cosmic strings, doughnut vacuums, quantum tunnelling, and the God particle.

The theory of quantum tunnelling holds that if we could mimic the movements of electrons, time travel would be possible.

The cosmic strings theory is based on the idea that when the Big Bang happened, cracks appeared in the universe.

Image Source: NASA
Image Source: Pascal on Flickr

Those cracks are the ‘cosmic strings’.

Image Source: Paul Hudson on Flickr
Image Source: NASA

The idea is that if two cosmic strings collided that they would cause a hole in the space-time continuum.

Image Source: Smithsonian Institution on Flickr

That collision would thus allowing time travel.

Experiments involving time travel include the Philadelphia experiment, the Montauk experiment, and Project Pegasus.