“I find the whole time travel question very unsettling if you take it to its logical extension. I think it might eventually be possible, but then what happens?”–actor, William Shatner
Who hasn’t fantasized about going back in time or forward into the future? This concept is probably as old as antiquity itself. There has been much conversation among the scientific community positing that time travel might be achieved at some point in the future. Supposedly, the solution to this ages old question does not depend entirely upon a shift in world-view. However, it might require some sort of paradigm-shift as of yet unimagined.
Meanwhile, in the parochial sense, we are all capable of mental time travel. If you have a book or a magazine nearby, pick it up and read a paragraph and you’ll discover an idea or composition that was conceived at some time in the past. If you continue to read more of the book or magazine article, you become mentally and emotionally involved in it. In fact, you don’t even have to reach for a book; you can continue to read this short ramble in front of you right now, because this post was written and placed into a queue on Thanksgiving Day this year. I didn’t have anything else to do that morning while waiting for friends to arrive at my home to help celebrate the holiday so I tapped out these words. As a matter of fact, I engaged a time travel technique by changing the grammatical form of the paragraph from present tense to past tense. Also, I assumed that this would be published in the future. So we have now travelled through time together.
Like so many people, I’ve long been interested in time travel, and the notion that someday science will develop a safe way to accomplish it. I stress the word “safe” because there is the major stumbling block known as “closed timelike curve”. That is if you travel back in time, even for a few moments, you come back to meet yourself in the past. We can extend this notion about going back so far as to meet our parents before our conception. Extend it further and meet our grandparents before our parents’ conceptions, and so on.
Closed timelike curve is one of the anomalies we encounter when engaging in alternate history scenarios. A common question involves going back in history before Adolf Hitler came to power. Would we manipulate events to cause him to die in the First World War? Or would we assassinate him before he energized the Nazi Party? How would eliminating Hitler, alter 20th century history? Would someone just as malevolent or worse come to power? Would the European conflict fail to ignite? Would Benito Mussolini have become more powerful or less influential? What about the Pacific conflict? How would Hitler’s absence affect Japanese aggression?
As parallel scenarios, what if Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt or Joseph Stalin had not become leaders? How would the Second World War progress and end? A labyrinth of scenarios appears in any alteration or combination of changes. Any one of them might have altered events so much that ultimately we, ourselves, might not have ever been born. This is one reason why someone needs to come up with a fail-safe mechanism to prevent anyone from tinkering with the past.
“Originally, the burden of proof was on physicists to prove that time travel was possible. Now the burden of proof is on physicists to prove there must be a law forbidding time travel.”–theoretical physicist, futurist, and science communicator, Michio Kaku
Unfortunately, who can confidently predict that time travel technology might become viable before a fail-safe could be invented? Therefore, actual time travel might very well become as dangerous or more dangerous than nuclear weaponry. Time travel might be another Pandora’s Box that we should not open.
When we ponder Albert Einstein’s famous equation about time, we note that time behaves like a river. Time slows down, meanders, speeds up, detours into whirlpools and eddys. Time could split into two or more channels, or be bent into pretzel shapes. With these in mind, can we rule out human time travel?
Meanwhile, we are still confronted with the everyday, mental time travel we all utilize to some extent. We ruminate over the past and fantasize about the future. The bigger question turns out to be: How can we be more present in the present? We are all time travellers. I hope we have an auspicious journey.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes American basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association, Brook Lopez. “Who hasn’t dreamed of being a superhero? I don’t know what my superhero name would be, but my power? I would have to say time travel.”
Michio Kaku hit the nail on the head. But I think it will not change anything about the fact that we continue on this path, no matter how unthinkable it may seem to some right now. it’s like human intervention in DNA. Both have enormous explosive power.
Yes, we’re getting into wormhole territory with time travel and alteration.
Maybe we are already living in a present that has been altered because someone went back in time.
I’ve heard of this hypothesis. It’s a fascinating idea.
💜 Memories ARE “Time Travel” EveryOne; as ARE Aspirations EveryBody
Time travel is a fascinating concept. The possibilities are beyond my comprehension. Still it is fun to consider. If I could travel in time, I’d choose to explore the future. bey
Same here. I’d like to find out how people live in the future.
I too am intrigued by time stories. There was a troubling short story about time travel by Isaac Asimov, I don’t recall the name. The government forbid it but the inventors made it public domain so that anyone could create a time machine. The unexpected result was that some people would go just a few minutes back in time to spy on people, privacy was obsolete.
That scenario would be a nightmare for anyone with personal boundary issues.