Time is embedded in everything we do. It towers large over how we perceive the Universe. Traveling through it and zipping-off into the sci-fi future is usually considered the stuff of science fiction. But walking through twists and turns of time travel or meeting your digital clone is no longer a tricky or impossible fantasy. Only that we are still messing with it and searching for a workaround.
It’s then no surprise that the freedom to move through time just as we move through space, drags on as a stupendous barrier and overrides everything else.
Would something close to time-travelling DeLorean or a custom-built wormhole allow us to travel from one event in present to another in future any time soon? Would Universe care if we moved an atom from position A to position B? Are there impossible answers or is it simply impossible to happen?
Let’s figure out how much more is to be done before we get to get a glimpse of future!!
Imagine you have hopped onto a time machine, pressed a button, and have journeyed back to 2019, before the corona-virus jumped the species -from animals to humans and you have found and isolated patient zero!
Well…theoretically, the pandemic wouldn’t have happened, right? Not quite, because then future-you wouldn’t have decided to time travel in the first place.
Things rather don’t not work the way we want them to. Events readjust around anything that might cause an inconsistency and don’t let it happen.
Simply said, you could travel back into the time but couldn’t change anything.
This sounds tragic for those who wish they could rewind the clock. And that’s not without a reason. Who wouldn’t want to blitz through time and space at the speed of light to reach out into the past and undo those bad decisions and vile events that are a torment today and might hurt someone?
Let’s assume for a moment that it could actually be done and you get to travel back into time of your liking; but…
What if you can’t fix the past? Wouldn’t it be rather you looked forward into the future than backwards. Besides regretting or trying to fix things done absolute in the past won’t help nobody! Maybe you could salvage some of your broken present in future!
And you don’t need a wormhole or a decked up DeLorean to do it!!
Not many of us may know but time is not a constant and tends to slow down as you move faster through space. If theory of relativity is any good then real-life time travel to the future is possible through time dilation.
Do you know what this unheard of time dilation really about? Simply put, it is the difference in elapsed time as measured by two clocks. This could happen either due to difference in gravitational pull at their locations or relative velocity between them. If dilation happens not because of either of these events, then it is the ‘Velocity’ that runs the show!
You think it’s all screwed up? May be ‘yes’ and ‘no’; Yes because the dynamics on which our Universe works are baffling; No because the euphoria of time travel is formidable yet stirring.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into the ‘space-time’ theory that fuses the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time into one.
If you think that the space is something flat and rigid that holds the entire Universe, then it’s time you corrected yourself. Re-imagine it as a curved and maleable trampoline-a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched between a steel frame using many coiled springs, the one used in trapeze, gymnastics and acrobatic exercises. Place a bowling ball in the center and it would cause smaller objects placed on it to slide towards the center.
The gravitational dips around masses in a curved space work the same way! pulling other objects in; and the closer they gets to the center, the faster they accelerate. For us, the center of this gravitational dip is centered right in the Earth’s core and it is here the acceleration is the highest. The stronger the gravity, the more space time curves, and the slower time itself proceeds.
In other words, time moves more slowly as you go faster through space, the closer you are to a center of gravity-pulled up by a black hole, warm hole or even a star on the verge of collapse, the slower the time would move for the object.
Let’s put it this way!
Look above to heavens. Some hundreds of GPS satellites are stationed about 20200 kms above us. This effect is most visible there. The highly precise onboard clocks gain an average of 38 microseconds per day and adjusts for time dilation. Run them 38 microseconds faster and positioning error of some 10 kms happens every 24 hours!! This would increase exponentially if the time lag goes uncorrected.
Still couldn’t get hold of what this time dilation is all about!? Try and get a feel of it in a more electrifying manner on Netflix. Watch Interstellar that critically acclaimed flick from 2014. Matthew McConaughey as ex-NASA pilot Joseph Cooper, is tasked to pilot a spacecraft along with a team of researchers to discover a new planet for humans as the Earth is slowly dying. The crew travel to outer space and land on a planet with extreme gravitational forces due to a nearby black hole. The intense gravitational pull slows down the time for those on the planet measuring one hour on it’s surface equal to seven years of Earth.
The revelation of time travel is massive and dumbfounding! It’s devastating for Cooper as he returns to a space habitat orbiting Saturn after traveling through a black hole (inside the boundaries of the Event Horizon). The 5d beings had safely transported Cooper to the edge of the wormhole near Saturn where he gets picked up and finds way home, only to discover that his daughter has turned an old woman while he had aged almost none and appeared the same as when he had left.
Check this out; Murph, Cooper’s daughter was 10 years old when he had left. Cooper traveled for 2 years to the wormhole and subsequently lost 23 years in gravitational time dilation on Miller’s planet.
So if we are so good at finding answers to ‘whys’, why couldn’t we just leap forward into future!
Dear me!! this is mind-bending. It’s the Velocity that holds the key to trans-temporal travel!
For us to travel into the future, only two things could make that happen; either we take advantage of the gravitational acceleration caused by black holes or we jump into the space at the speed of light (1 billion kms/hr). Today, we could manage only a few microseconds into the future, given the current technology at hand.
But like everything else, technology too is ever evolving!
Should this happen sometime soon, would it be possible for us to get back to reality from future using time dilation and share findings with everybody?
The answer is a big “Yes”; only if we could manage interstellar travels at the speed of light!
There is a catch here though!
The voyage will be one way ticket- into the future and not back to the past because we can’t use time dilation for passage back and forth.
Does this mean that past is forever inaccessible?
Perhaps no. only if we could put to use a wormhole–the areas of space time that is warped and connects two distant points in space. This bridge in space, if it stays stable, happily consummates other physical laws and lives long enough for us to make a dash; may be we could catch sight of our past lives.
Few though dismiss ‘wormholes’ as science fiction and argue that both particles and states of matter have ‘exotic’ physical stuff that would violate all known laws of physics. For them a trek back to the past is more inviting than a peek into the future.
And why shouldn’t it be? Who wouldn’t want to see the Dinosaurs or meet Albert Einstein?
But if I were you, I’ll be wary of this hustle! While it’s fascinating enough to brave a travel into the past, it might tempt you to attempt a change that could destroy future for so many.
Remember that blockbuster movie ‘ Back to the Future’ that had smashed all box office collections for a sci-fi hit! Marty McFly traveled back into the time and prevented his parents from seeing each other, nearly cheating his own existence!
It sucks! If he had undone his own existence, how could he have doubled back in time in the first place?
Marty’s escapade if nothing else, is close to a variation of ‘grandfather paradox’ that none of us would wish to ever happen. What if you were to go back into the time and kill your grandfather for him being a monster or something before your father is conceived? If you were to succeed, how could it be possible that you are alive to kill your grandpa in the first place?
Creepy? Well…you ought to be amped up by now!
When we say that the Universe has the ability to self-correct to avoid inconsistencies, does this makes an anomaly-free time travel easy to happen?
Hypothetically yes, theoretically no!
So what’s the upshot?
Although time dilation could allow us to get a glimpse of the future, we will never be able to visit the past let alone alter events to create a different future. If Stephen Hawkins in his book Black Holes and Baby Universes could weigh the future of time travel into the past as mysterious and as abysmal as black hole, then it’s cooler if we rather skip it altogether and went forward in time.
It’s completely different mathematics that sits behind the ‘string theory’. In fact, all the dimensions of time and space work uniquely for all possible future and all possible pasts including realities with a physics totally different from what we know of today.
I looked around but couldn’t find a McDee!
Like everybody else. I too got stuck at home in pandemic. Everything stayed shut and I just rared to jet off to some fun-filled destination. Of course, this was not gonna happen any time sooner.
But I did manage to get my hands full! I deep dived and looked for answers…
What of traveling through time into the future, if the planetary science and intergalactic travel limitations deny us a glimpse of the past? And not just in a boring way; like the one where we wait for it to arrive one sec at a time. What if I could zip through time to future back and forth as easily as pushing buttons and actually live a fantasy that’s been on the cards for at least 125 years!
No way! H.G. Wells wouldn’t have imagined that his 1895 epic “The Time Machine” would kick start some serious investigations into my mind.
Am I only a curious creep or seeing ghosts!# If we can move freely through space why not time?
I wish somebody from ##SpaceX is listening!!
Sometimes curiosity overwhelms… well almost everybody. At least I get bowled over more often than once. When this happens. I look around for cues that might have some answers to this intriguing unexplored journey.
If general relativity refers to gravity as bending or warping of space-time, maybe everything that we do with space, we can do with time also. It is this warp that paves us the way to go forward but unfortunately not backwards and that too at a rate that we can control!
Well.. that’s almost everything but not exactly everything!
Excited to know more…scroll google for famous” twin paradox” and you will get to know why if you travel at the speed of light and your twin remains at Earth, you will uncover something insane. A bizarre windfall has happened while you were away. You’ll find yourself much younger than your twin! If the voyage draws out a bit longer, you might look just a few years older than when you left, while your twin is probably a grandpa now.
Time appears to have passed just as it always does for both of you twins; it’s only when you two reunite that the enormity of madness reveals itself.
It is a bit disappointing for Star trek enthusiasts too; for all I know, you have to get very close to the velocity of light to be any close to warp speed. No!…I don’t think we have even cracked a tenth of a percent of the speed of light as yet; max.
But there is one true revelation that saves the day for me; We know for sure that…
If we could somehow spend a good deal of time hugging close to that ultimate speed in the Universe, our clocks will run slower. We will get to travel through time into the future. Nothing will change except that for a couple of years in voyage, time on Earth must have advanced by centuries even ten of thousands of years.
Rest is just surreal!!
Maybe someday I get to crack this pesky paradox and get to visit a McDee take-away on some distant planet millions of light years away, one like scores of it’s franchises spread across galaxies and time zones, all warmly swarmed and inundated with hungry time travelers!! The standard menu has changed faces but no faking…the unmistakable flavors of ‘McNasty’ stays tantalizing and lip smacking as ever.
Maybe you could buy for a cup of coffee if the rush is crushing… after all it’s 2150! and people have turned fond of intergalactic sojourns. No worries…we will pick up the grub in some other galaxy some other time or on way back to reality! Who’s gonna wait when stars zip by?
Today, my take remains unshaken though. Till such day I get to wade through time, my experience of it’s passage is absolutely normal. My clock doesn’t race or behaves dopey. It ticks normal as ever. I age normally and…
I am no further into my future than normal. But I wait…
Maybe someday I get to travel into my twin’s future!
Maybe someday I get to choose how quickly I reach it!!