Beyond Weird Science: General Relativity Expert Believes Humans Could Master Time Travel This Century
Recently we’ve posted articles on the ideas and upcoming experiments of John Cramer, a particle physicist who says he believes that time can move in reverse. Cramer is a pioneer of sorts, but he is certainly not the first physicist to experiment with time. In fact, one particular man has spent the better part of his life pondering the mystery and his ideas are even “weirder” than Cramer’s.
Physicist Ronald Mallett is known for his expertise in general relativity, gravitation, black holes, relativistic astrophysics, and quantum cosmology. He has been working with Einstein’s equations for years in an attempt to design a sort of time machine. He may be crazy, but he’s also a respected physics professor who probably knows as much about the relationship between space and time as anyone on the planet.
Physicists on both sides of the camp are adamant in their views. Individuals on both sides of the debate have ridiculed the other for being either narrow-minded or unrealistic. However, few will argue that time travel is not theoretically possible. What many physicists do firmly believe is that for all practical purposes, we could never pull it off—at least not with any technology we have today. They say creating time travel would require the energy of an exploding star. Of course, not everyone agrees.
Black holes, wormholes, and cosmic strings have all been proposed as methods for time travel, but none of them seem very plausible. Although theoretically they could distort space-time—it would require an inconceivable amount of mass.
Mallett, a U Conn Physics Professor for over 30 years, has devised an alternative to these time travel methods based on Einstein’s famous relativity equation: E=mc2.
“Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing,” said Mallett, who published his first research on time travel back in 2000, which appeared in the journal Physics Letters. “The time machine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time instead of using massive objects.”
In attempting to create a “time loop”, Mallett is tinkering with a device to test his time-warping theory. Using mirrors, Mallett hopes to create a circulating light beam that can warp surrounding space, which is part of his work called The Space-time Twisting by Light (STL) project.
According to Einstein, whenever you do something to space, you also affect time. Twisting space causes time to be twisted, meaning you could theoretically walk through time as you walk through space.
“As physicists, our experiments deal with subatomic particles,” said Mallett. “How soon humans will be able to time travel depends largely on the success of these experiments, which will take the better part of a decade. And depending on breakthroughs, technology, and funding, I believe that human time travel could happen this century.”
Even if time travel is possible, sci-fi writers and scientists alike have expressed concern over the possible implications. After all, if we go back in time, won’t we be tampering with the future? Mallett doesn’t believe that is relevant. He is an advocate of the Parallel Universes theory. He believes that time machines will not present any danger, at least not in this universe.
“The Grandfather Paradox [where you go back in time and kill your grandfather] is not an issue,” said Mallett. “In a sense, time travel means that you’re traveling both in time and into other universes. If you go back into the past, you’ll go into another universe. As soon as you arrive at the past, you’re making a choice and there’ll be a split. Our universe will not be affected by what you do in your visit to the past.”
Although the debate continues, one thing is certain. If anyone can find a way to demonstrate any form of time travel—it may not effect the past, but it will certainly have an impact on the future.
In either case, this kind of “Weird Science” reminds me of this random quote I read on the website for a company that just came out with flying cars.
“New technology goes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed by those ignorant of its potential.
Next, it is subverted by those threatened by its potential.
Finally, it is considered self-evident.” –unknown
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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