Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is time travel possible? (Einstein, Mallett and the Large Hadron Collider)

I wrote very briefly back in 2006 that I think time travel is possible. I have always believed that time travel is possible. What I have not known is whether it could come about in my life time or not. I have never gone into this deeply on my blog, mostly because people do not like to entertain this topic. Some of my recent reading has led me to realise that it is an area of physics that is now being seriously researched. Finally I can begin to explore this topic.

Einstein's theories prove time travel forward is possible
Einstein opened up the possibility of time travel being a serious scientific concept through his two theories: the general theory of relativity and the special theory of relativity. The special theory of relativity says that when an object travels fast enough time slows down.

I.e  Repeated experiments have shown the following:
- An atomic clock was placed on a jet plane.
- A corresponding atomic clock was placed on the ground, with exactly the same time.
- The jet plane flew in the sky at a speed approaching sound.
- When the plane landed, its clock was fractionally behind the clock on the ground.

As mentioned, this experiment has been carried out many times. There was nothing wrong with the clocks. This experiment was carried out by physicists seeking to prove Einstein's special theory of relativity. The pilot on those flights had actually jumped forward in time, although only by a very small amount.
Travel at much faster speeds would allow the traveler to jump even further forward in time. Consider a space ship that traveled out into space at close to the speed of light. Traveling at that speed for a journey of two years and back would occur while over 200 years passed on earth. This is based on exactly the same theory as the jet plane and atomic clock experiment. This a widely accepted theory in physics that says that it is possible to jump forward in time.

There is another method of jumping forward in time that is theoretically possible. Black holes can bend space and time, allowing a jump forward or back in time. Black holes could of course tear part what ever objects traveled through them.
Another method again is a worm hole. A worm hole is currently theoretical, but it connects two different places of space and time.

Building a time machine employing the physics of a black hole would require the ability to manipulate the energy of an entire star. So it is still very theoretical.

What ever the case, it must first be established that time travel forward has already been proven as theoretically possible.

Examples of time travel in every day life

I am sitting on the couch here typing my blog on the laptop. My son is currently sitting in another room playing with his toys. I can see him and hear him, yet he is actually in the past. The light traveling from him and the sound traveling from him take time to get to me. All people around us are actually in a different frame of time to our own.
Another example comes from the form of videos and photos. We are capable of watching past events that have been recorded on film or video. This would not be possible if the machine (video camera) that captures these past events had not yet been made. This means, that it is impossible for us to view events before the camera had been invented. The camera does give us a glimpse into the past, a sort of time travel for the brain.

Backwards time travel has always been refuted
Many have argued that although it is theoretically possible to travel forwards in time at great leaps, that it is impossible to travel backwards in time. There is however a modern physicist whose research questions this very notion. His name is Dr. Ronald Mallett, and he is a professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. He has an interesting story. His research boiled down says that gravity can affect time (as in a black hole), and that light can affect gravity. His research has been in black holes and lasers for much of his career. His theory is that light by affecting gravity, can affect time.

Mallett explains that light can make space swirl around, in the same way that a teaspoon can stir water in a coffee cup. If a cube of sugar is thrown into the swirling coffee it can be observed swirling around. In the same way a particle thrown into swirling space can also be observed.
Mallett theorises, that when such a machine is built it will be possible to send particles back in time, but only to any point when the machine is already switched on. I.e If it were switched on today, December 15h, 2011, then from any point in the future a particle could be sent back to today or any day after today. A particle could not be sent back to December 14th or any earlier day. This is much the same as the fact that film can not be made before the date that the camera was invented.

If Mallett successfully makes his time machine, we will not be able to travel in time as people, but it will be a significant leap in the theory of time travel.

The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

The Large Hadron Collider is a large underground tunnel 27 km in circumference, not unlike a synchrotron. Its designed purpose is to collide protons and other sub atomic particles with one another. It is hoped that many things will be discovered about the nature of sub atomic particles. Further than that it is hoped that layers below the sub-atomic such as the existence of a Higgs-boson particle can either be proven or disproven. It is also hoped that the nature of dark matter can be understood through experiments.
All of these experiments will no doubt bring far greater understanding to the nature of physics, giving greater context to the concept of time travel.
Before the collider was switched on there were some people who tried to take out legal injunctions against its procession. They claimed that the experiments could open up black holes that could suck the earth up. It is true that experiments at the collider could indeed create black holes, but none with any sufficient power to suck the earth up. It has also been postulated that the experiments could open up tiny worm holes.
And now for the slightly tongue in cheek question. Are they actually building a time machine at CERN in Switzerland?
(For now I am happy to take all experiments as above board. But I do find it uncanny that the Large Hadron Collider is capable of sending protons at "3 metres per second less than the speed of light." This sounds potentially like a very large model of what Dr. Ronald Mallett is currently attempting to build.)

It is actually possible that activities at the Large Hadron Collider could be paving the way for time travel to occur, by the creation of worm holes, or at the very least by a far deeper understanding of physics.

The physics is there to theoretically prove that time travel is possible. Personally I get excited by this stuff. The practicality for people to time travel could still be a long way off. The possibility of sending particles through time may not be far away. It may even be possible to send messages through time.
For someone to travel backwards in time, there would have to already be a working time machine on the date in the past. Therefore if someone claims today that they are a time traveler the easiest way to test this is to see their time machine.
The possible existence of wormholes however could contradict the theory that a time machine must be present in the past. It may simply be possible to travel through a worm hole. It may not be possible however to choose where and when these worm holes go, and if it is possible to return.

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