WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Science fiction has a habit of very often becoming science fact and proving that something is mathematically possible is often the start of a journey of discovery and invention
As a futurist, or, yes, okay, an emerging technology nerd, I often find that people are sceptical by nature, often quite rightly, but while we are all, arguably, sceptics by nature it’s also important that we all keep open minds, a sceptic with a closed mind in my opinion is just a critic waiting to be proved wrong. Bring it on critics…
Consequently, I often find that some of the world’s greatest breakthroughs follow a common pattern. Firstly, someone dreams up something fantastical, and we humans are wonderful at dreaming up the fantastical. I’ll give you an example: Inter-galactic animals that can travel at light speed – see how easy that was? Then you get the sceptics who say it will never happen, and, possibly, that it’s a stupid idea. How dare you by the way…
Next a quorum of people with time, lots of time, possibly too much time, on their hands start theorising how it might be done, and let’s face it this is a whole bunch of what if’s and often crazy, with a capital “K” out the box thinking.
Sometimes some of these crazy, abstract ideas escape into the public realm and people line up to shoot them down, but eventually a concept sticks and suddenly more people jump on board, someone publishes a “potential blueprint” for the fantastical idea, such as the one for this stand alone DNA computer, or this one that turns our DNA into a disease fighting computer. Over time those blueprints often become reality, at which point the person who had the original idea is lauded as a thought leader ahead of their time. And, oh yes, the critics go off and find something else to critique.
I’m sure that there are some among you reading this who are critics, and good for you, but without those original crazee’s we wouldn’t have gotten to the point where we’ve been able to create the world’s first tractor beams, teleport E-Mails, store data on photons, pull movies directly from people’s brains, shrink particle accelerators to the size of chips, grow brains in jars, create new alien life forms, or come up with the foundations of, potentially, building the world’s first deflector shields, light speed photon rockets or now, time machines.
Long live the crazies.
In a new revelation, and one step on from fantastical thinking a team from the University of British Columbia and the University of Maryland have said that time travel is possible – atleast, theoretically. Whether they’re right or not of course only time will tell but according to the scientists involved there’s no mathematical reason why a time travel machine couldn’t disrupt the space time continuum enough to go backwards and forwards in time.
The study, which was published earlier this week in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, is titled “Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domains In Spacetime”, which spells TARDIS – the name of Doctor Who’s famous police box time machine. What a coincidence…
In the paper the mathematicians involved in the project have proposed a mathematical model for a viable time machine.
“In this paper we present geometry which has been designed to fit a layperson’s description of a time machine”, they wrote, “it is a box which allows those within it to travel backwards and forwards through time and space, as interpreted by an external observer.”
“People think of time travel as something fictional and we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible,” said Ben Tippett, one of the lead researchers.
Any time travel machine would probably need to be able to warp space time, which is the connection between time and physical dimensions such as width, depth and height, and in the past scientists have presented evidence that suggests that huge gravitational forces, such as those emitted by black holes, which we’re taking a photo of soon – another crazy idea maybe – can slow down time.
The teams model is based on a similar idea – that a strong force could disrupt space time and “bend time into a circle for passengers” which would, in theory at least, mean people could travel faster than the speed of light and therefore travel through time.
While building a time machine may be theoretically possible, however, the researchers said it was unlikely that anyone would ever be able to achieve it. Do I hear another fantastical idea forming?
“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,” said Tippett.
So, as I watch people line up to book their first flights into space I’m going to be sure to get my name on the list to travel back in time, I’ve always wanted to see dinosaurs, and I don’t mean the ones that scientists are trying to bring back from the dead…
Pah! Crazy scientists.