Even Though the Theory of Time Travel Is Real, Don't Start Standing in Line for Tickets Just Yet

It’s one of the best storylines in any science fiction novel or movie. Time travel is used in plenty of fantasy tales. People love the idea of being able to go back into the past or being able to see their future. But is time travel really all that fictional? This question has lead scientists to begin to study the possibility of traveling through time. It can be proven through scientific research that the theory of time travel is not impossible despite its perception of being solely a fictional idea.

While the theory may not be impossible, time travel and the creation of a time machine happening in today’s world, even in this century, is not at all likely. Even the scientists working on proving the possibility of time travel will admit this. That doesn’t mean however that time travel could never happen. We do not currently have the capabilities or the advanced technologies that such a possibility would require. It seems that only in a few thousand or more years from now or maybe in some unknown advanced civilization can time travel really be a practical possibility. Our society simply has not advanced enough but someday that could change.

One of the greatest most brilliant minds of all time, Albert Einstein, created the general theory of relativity. He explained space-time and its characteristics and formulated equations that now are the basis for much of the research of time travel. He showed that space and time are dynamic and curved (Hawking online). With enough curvature there would be the beginnings of a possible time portal. “In the solution for Einstein’s equations for a black hole, a passage can exist between two universes or between two parts of the same universe” (Wheeler online). This is a sort of tunnel through space-time, a sort of bridge commonly known as a wormhole and officially titled the “Einstein-Rosen” bridge. In theory a person could use a wormhole to go through one end, come out in another universe and time then go back through and return to the same point right before you entered the wormhole originally. This would be traveling through time. 

There are many practical problems in using wormholes as a time machine that arise; nevertheless a wormhole is still a passage connecting separate parts of space-time.  First problem is that finding or creating a wormhole, of ample size, would be exceedingly difficult. But if one were to discover a wormhole, the next issue would be how to hold it open. “The problem with wormholes is that the openings … tend to snap shut a fraction of a second after they’re created” (Gott online). The solution that could actually hold a wormhole open is material that is negatively charged, exotic matter. Since exotic matter is negative matter, it would push gravity outward which in effect would hold open the wormhole. Creation of such matter so far has not really been possible for scientists especially on such a large scale. There is still hope for making exotic matter through more scientific research though. The theories of a Dutch physicist and laboratory testing have discovered that by holding two electrically charged plates very close together in a vacuum created a region of negative density (Gott online). Now all we need is the technology to super-size this and create it on a much larger scale. Then we would have our gateway to time traveling.

So now with the possibility of wormholes, if someone were able to create a time machine that could actually go back and forwards through time, no matter what their process was, the existence of time loops would be absolutely necessary. Time loops are what would allow a traveler to travel through time and still come back at his original departure point. “Time travel is possible in a region of space time in which there are time loops, paths that move at less than the speed of light but which nevertheless manage to come back to the place and time they started because of the warping of time” (Hawking online).Time loops, like wormholes, have brought about issues about how feasible they really are. Stephen Hawking came up with the chronology-protection conjecture which in simple terms, basically says that the probability for actually having a time loop is slim to none. It is yet to be proved that the chronology-projection conjecture is entirely wrong but scientists have already found some proof that the existence of time loops may be more likely than expected. Two scientists by the names of Li-Xin Li and Richard Gott III have made a discovery while exploring a simple type of space time called Misner space (Peterson online). “Misner space can exhibit more than one type of vacuum state, however. Li and Gott demonstrate that one of these states permits the occurrence of time loops. That state is self-consistent, meaning that going back in time doesn’t alter what happens later in the system”(Peterson online). They showed that time loops can exist in certain types of space time. So with more research, scientists may yet be able to prove that time loops are more probable therefore making time travel more realistic.

Currently, the prospect of time travel is not very practical but just because there are obstacles doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome. In a miniscule way we have begun traveling through time. “Astronaut Story Musgrave… spent 53.4 days in orbit. He is thus more than a millisecond younger than he would have been if he had stayed home… If we sent an astronaut to the planet Mercury and she lived there for 30 years before returning, she would be about 22 seconds younger” (Gott online). With each scientific and technological advancement we get a step closer to answering the question of time travel. Someday the ideas in all the popular books and movies featuring being able to time travel may not be so unlikely.