Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time


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Science as we know it allows for several methods to take the fast-track into the future. This is the easiest and most practical way to get to the far future — go really fast.

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Using twin atomic clocks one flown in a jet aircraft, the other stationary on Earth physicists have shown that a flying clock ticks slower, because of its speed. In the case of the aircraft, the effect is minuscule. The highest speeds achieved through any human technology are probably the protons whizzing around the Large Hadron Collider at Using special relativity we can calculate one second for the proton is equivalent to 27,, seconds, or about 11 months , for us. Amazingly, particle physicists have to take this time dilation into account when they are dealing with particles that decay.

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In the lab, muon particles typically decay in 2. But fast moving muons, such as those created when cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere, take 10 times longer to disintegrate.


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The next method is also inspired by Einstein. According to his theory of general relativity, the stronger the gravity you feel, the slower time moves. As you get closer to the centre of the Earth, for example, the strength of gravity increases. Time runs slower for your feet than your head.

Time Travel: Theories, Paradoxes & Possibilities | Space

Again, this effect has been measured. In , physicists at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST placed two atomic clocks on shelves, one 33 centimetres above the other, and measured the difference in their rate of ticking. The lower one ticked slower because it feels a slightly stronger gravity. To travel to the far future, all we need is a region of extremely strong gravity, such as a black hole.

Assuming you had the technology to travel the vast distances to reach a black hole the nearest is about 3, light years away , the time dilation through travelling would be far greater than any time dilation through orbiting the black hole itself. The most mindblowing thing, perhaps, is that GPS systems have to account for time dilation effects due to both the speed of the satellites and gravity they feel in order to work. Another way to travel to the future may be to slow your perception of time by slowing down, or stopping, your bodily processes and then restarting them later. Bacterial spores can live for millions of years in a state of suspended animation, until the right conditions of temperature, moisture, food kick start their metabolisms again.

Though completely stopping your metabolism is probably far beyond our current technology, some scientists are working towards achieving inducing a short-term hibernation state lasting at least a few hours.

This might be just enough time to get a person through a medical emergency, such as a cardiac arrest, before they can reach the hospital. In , American scientists demonstrated a way to slow the metabolism of mice which do not hibernate by exposing them to minute doses of hydrogen sulphide, which binds to the same cell receptors as oxygen. After six hours the mice could be reanimated without ill effects. Unfortunately, similar experiments on sheep and pigs were not successful, suggesting the method might not work for larger animals.

Another method, which induces a hypothermic hibernation by replacing the blood with a cold saline solution, has worked on pigs and is currently undergoing human clinical trials in Pittsburgh.

Frost-Covered Time Machine in ‘Time After Time’ Is a Nod to Einstein

General relativity also allows for the possibility for shortcuts through spacetime, known as wormholes, which might be able to bridge distances of a billion light years or more, or different points in time. Many physicists, including Stephen Hawking, believe wormholes are constantly popping in and out of existence at the quantum scale, far smaller than atoms.

The trick would be to capture one, and inflate it to human scales - a feat that would require a huge amount of energy, but which might just be possible, in theory. Attempts to prove this either way have failed, ultimately because of the incompatibility between general relativity and quantum mechanics.


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Another idea, put forward by the American physicist Ron Mallet, is to use a rotating cylinder of light to twist spacetime. Anything dropped inside the swirling cylinder could theoretically be dragged around in space and in time, in a similar way to how a bubble runs around on top your coffee after you swirl it with a spoon.

Gott believes that the study Richard Gott.

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It was H. It has mostly been dismissed as an impossibility in the world of physics; yet theories posited by Einstein, and advanced by scientists including Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, suggest that the phenomenon could actually occur. Building on these ideas, J. Richard Gott, a professor who has written on the subject for Scientific American , Time , and other publications, describes how travel to the future is not only possible but has already happened—and contemplates whether travel to the past is also conceivable.

Practical tips for chrononauts on their options for travel and the contingencies to prepare for make everything sound bizarrely plausible.

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Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time
Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time
Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time
Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time
Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time Time Travel in Einsteins Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time

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