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Science & Technology

Time travel is 'mathematically possible'

By T.K. Randall
April 29, 2017 · Comment icon 26 comments

Could Doc Brown have been right all along ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Ed g2s
According to Professor Ben Tippett, traveling through time is not outside the realms of possibility.
From 'Doctor Who' to 'Back to the Future', time travel has been a staple science-fiction technology in movies, books and TV shows for years. But could it really be possible to travel in to the past ?

"People think of time travel as something fictional," said Tippett, a maths and physics instructor from the University of British Columbia. "And we tend to think it's not possible because we don't actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible."

The key, he argues, lies in Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity which states that massive stellar objects such as stars or black holes actually distort both space and time.

To show that time travel is possible, Tippett has created a new formula which focuses on the way in which these massive objects cause the very fabric of the space-time continuum to curve.
"The time direction of the space-time surface also shows curvature," he said. "There is evidence showing the closer to a black hole we get, time moves slower."

"My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time -- to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line. That circle takes us back in time."

The physicist however does admit that putting this in to practice is currently impossible.

"While is it mathematically feasible, it is not yet possible to build a space-time machine because we need materials -- which we call exotic matter -- to bend space-time in these impossible ways, but they have yet to be discovered," he said.

Source: | Comments (26)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Frank Merton 6 years ago
There are books and college courses on the subject and it would take one of these.
Comment icon #18 Posted by aka CAT 6 years ago
Had a related post not been placed in the "Modern Mysteries, New Age & Prophecies" section, it would have probably received more replies.  Therein the thread is a useful pdf file and a video embedded solely for the purpose of providing one a comparative concept of Alcubierre's versus Tippett's and Tsang's bubbles of curvature. 
Comment icon #19 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
Surely you can provide a hint? For example, we all know from special relativity that one of the reasons why an object with rest mass can't travel at the speed of light is that the mass would become infinite. Admittedly, for non-specialists such as myself, special relativity is easier to grasp than general relativity. But surely you can back up your statement on time travel with something other than "there are books and college courses".
Comment icon #20 Posted by Frank Merton 6 years ago
Believe what you want to believe.  Within space, the speed of light is the speed of information and going faster violates causality.  Now maybe causality isn't what it is made out to be, but in that case existence would be meaningless, which, of course, may be the reality and we are all deluding ourselves. I am persuaded, mainly because I've been down this road before, that people who want there to be exceptions to physics are  like those with perpetual motion machines.  It takes too much physics to really explain, but there are lots of web sites out there that think they can, so find one of t... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
You misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying time travel is possible (I don't know whether it is or it isn't). I was simply asking you to back up your statement that according to general relativity, you think it is not. If you are not able to do so, that is fine by me. However, you again say that "It takes too much physics to really explain". This implies you know the physics, so why not provide some (along with some of the maths)? 
Comment icon #22 Posted by keithisco 6 years ago
I think it irrelevant whether or not physics / mathematics should be able to describe the means to time travel; to request such proofs implies that the basic precepts are reducible to logical determination. My proposition is this: Time does not exist, therefore the "Arrow of Time" is a fallacy, and as such Time Travel is a conceit founded on unproven and ultimately unprovable concepts. IMO  
Comment icon #23 Posted by StarMountainKid 6 years ago
This may be of similar interest: " The Alcubierre drive or Alcubierre warp drive (or Alcubierre metric, referring to metric tensor) is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created."  
Comment icon #24 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
My point in asking for the physics and maths to back up theories on time travel is that, for instance, Prof. Ben Tippet - who is making the claim here - will be able to defend what he says through having knowledge of the physics and maths. Other physicists may find fault in his theory, but that is what science is all about. My knowledge of maths is basic: I did do elementary tensor calculus at university but soon realized the subject was way beyond me. There are some members on UM who do understand the maths, but of course they never get the opportunity to look at the "theories" put forward by... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by StarMountainKid 6 years ago
Sepulchrave, who is a member here, is a physics professor who occasionally posts in these kinds of topics. When I post on these subjects I try to back up with some link that may include the math. Sometimes I just speculate from my own personal views, but I try to make this clear that this is my opinion.    
Comment icon #26 Posted by RabidMongoose 6 years ago
Atoms dont obey the regular laws of cause and effect but instead work off probabilities. This means you cannot determine an atoms specific past or future. You can only talk about probabilities instead. This is because there is no specific past or specific future for the atom for a time traveller to visit and see. Instead all its pasts and futures co-exist as probabilities. So if you are going to travel forwards and backwards in time you a flying around the multiverse not time travelling.

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