Time Travel: A Figment of the Imagination
It is a tempting scenario: step onto a hi-tech captain’s bridge straight out of Star Trek; strap yourself into a comfortable reclining seat in front of a complex control panel; push a few buttons; throw a few switches; and lie back and close your eyes as your environment seems to spin and whirl giddily while you are propelled forward – or backward – into history. This is time travel at its most compelling and enticing. Unfortunately, you’ll only ever find it in the realm of science fiction. As a practical source of entertainment it will be forever relegated to book and film – and the imagination.
I once knew someone who insisted that time travel was indeed a practical possibility. He could show me the math to prove it. Therein lies the rub. Mathematics is for many the holy grail. However, it can be used to prove the impossible. Albert Einstein once believed that the Universe was static, like some colossal diorama or hanging mobile sculpture wherein all the galaxies, stars and solar systems were suspended and unmoving. Then one day a colleague approached him and suggested that in such a Universe would gravity not have a tendency to pull everything together? That sent the good doctor back to his notes. He invented a term which he called the cosmological constant which, when incorporated into his relativity equations introduced an anti-gravity component, thereby satisfying the requirements of his static Universe theory. Then of course, in 1929 Sir Edwin Hubble showed that the Universe was expanding and on seeing the evidence Einstein admitted to his greatest blunder. There is a lesson in this. Do not lean too heavily on mathematics.
On the other hand, it is important to throw open the doors to all the possibilities. It is in so doing that we lay the foundations for further discovery, by removing the limitations imposed upon us by the overly practical and dogmatic narrow-mindedness and stubborn refusal to accept the fantastic or the inexplicable. Revelation comes from imagination. Inspiration is the result of a much deeper reasoning beyond that which we already know and understand. It is enlightenment. Realization is the product of logical deduction. It is necessary to think that knowledge is infinite in potential.
Let us use this great tool of imagination to see if we can’t bring about some form of time travel. We can actually apply some empirical knowledge. In the realm of quantum physics everything can be considered to be happening at the same time in the same place. If, for example, we were to reduce the temperature of the entire Universe and all the matter in it to absolute zero then it would all condense into one giant atom. Notwithstanding that thermodynamics prevents this from happening – the coldest place in the Universe is about three degrees Kelvin above absolute zero – we can still all be considered to be one. Furthermore, if you were so colossally large that you could hold the Universe in the palm of your hand then the birth of the star as seen in the Hubble image of the Horse’s Head nebula would be no more than a spark in time, whereas from our perspective if we are to photograph that place again a hundred years from now that image would not look a whole lot different to us. Time is relative. It is a fact established by experimentation by Philip Bucksbaum, a professor of physics at Michigan University, that a single electron has the potential to store an infinite amount of information. It is also a fact that Brownian motion has not ceased and will not cease for all time and if we stretch our imaginations a little we can assume that all the knowledge ever acquired over all time by intelligent sentient beings is ultimately modulated on all the particles in the medium we call space. It is also conceivable that this very knowledge can be realized by sufficiently tuned conscious minds and that this does indeed represent a form of time travel. Think deeply enough upon a subject in history and if you can provide a suitable associative frame of reference then you can indeed place yourself in the time of Alexander the Great and you will truly feel the temper of his time. If you can catch even a momentary sense of the ambiance of a period in recorded history then you will have succeeded in traveling back in time.
Insomuch that we are self-contained sentient and conscious physical entities we must presume those modest constraints upon our beings. This means that physical movement through time must be confined to the relativistic effects which velocity and gravity impose upon physical objects relative to a static observational frame of reference. While measurable, at the very most they can be no more exciting than whatever relative time relationship a person has with another who has endured the experience of rapid acceleration at near light speeds for long enough to notice the difference in their biological ages. I can see that there might be a practical advantage to shedding the past for a future in which one can reap the rewards of wise financial planning but it should be remembered that one can never be able to return to the past to correct an unwise investment.