Do you Believe in Time Travel?

As proven by the multitude of movies and television series that explore the topic, time travel has fascinated people for generations, but how many people actually believe in time travel? Is it simply something from a science fiction film, or is it really possible?

There are many theories about time travel but do the laws of physics allow for the possibility it might actually happen? According to some physicists, time travel is possible and has already been demonstrated by experiments. The legendary theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, developed his own theory in 1905.

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As proven by the multitude of movies and television series that explore the topic, time travel has fascinated people for generations, but how many people actually believe in time travel? Is it simply something from a science fiction film, or is it really possible?

There are many theories about time travel but do the laws of physics allow for the possibility it might actually happen? According to some physicists, time travel is possible and has already been demonstrated by experiments. The legendary theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, developed his own theory in 1905.

The German scientist was only 26 when he developed his theory of relativity, which seemed to prove that travelling forwards in time was relatively easy when compared to going back. His studies led him to conclude that time passed at different rates for people who were moving relative to each other. Although this sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, theoretical physicists who have studied time travel since Einstein have further developed his theory in relation to space travel.

If passengers left earth on a spaceship travelling at a fraction of the speed of light, then turned around and returned to earth a short time later, they may find many more years had gone by on earth. Scientists called this the "twin paradox". They claimed that if one twin undertook such a journey, while the other remained on earth, the twin who had travelled would be significantly younger on their return than the sibling who had remained on earth.

However, although theoretically scientists believe it's possible to get a glimpse of the future, getting back would be a major challenge, since it would mean travelling faster than light - which is impossible.

Wormholes

There are all kinds of terms connected to time travel. One of them is "wormholes" and refers to Einstein's theory of gravity. He was addressing the problem of travelling back from the future when he came up with the theory of "spacetime" - a phenomenon that suggests time curves in the presence of mass.

The wormhole is a tunnel through the spacetime that connects distant parts of the universe. If the mouths of the wormholes are moving relative to each other, then crossing the "bridge" between different points in space is possible in theory. It would take the traveller to a different point in time from the one where they started out.

Scientists say it would not be possible to go any further back in time than the point at which the wormhole was created. This would limit the time-travel options somewhat! It would also explain why we have never met any visitors from the future.

Black holes

A black hole is a region of spacetime which exhibits such a strong gravitational acceleration that nothing can escape from it — not even particles or electromagnetic radiation, including light. Einstein's theory of general relativity states that a black hole can be created when a compact mass distorts spacetime.

All kinds of space and time distortions can occur around black holes. Theoretical physicists have studied black holes to think of ways time travel could work around them. They believe matter sucked into black holes may travel into the future.

Modern research has advanced Einstein's time-travel theories further. They believe that space-time is curved most strongly near the centre of a black hole. This results in a phenomenon whereby spacetime continues into a region in the future.

Theories such as this are fascinating, but scientists understand that it may not be possible for "real" objects to travel through time in this way. Although the idea is based on science, in reality, time travel and sending a human through space and time is something that is highly unlikely to be proven - in this century at least!

Time machines

Plenty of science fiction films and series have entertained the possibility of a time machine transporting people into the past or future. The famous novel, The Time Machine, by HG Wells, published in 1895, featured a Victorian scientist in England, who managed to invent a time machine.

When he first tests his time machine, he thinks it hasn't worked but then he realises he has travelled five hours into the future. Emboldened by his success, he travels further into the future, ending up in the year 802701 AD, when he finds the earth has reverted to a giant green space, with little sign of human habitation, except for a race of small, childlike adults.

After his time machine is stolen, he realises the culprits are the Morlocks who live underground and feed on the tiny humans as prey. He eventually finds his time machine and after many adventures manages to return to his own time, where he finds he has been missing for only three hours.

The book has become a modern classic that has been made into many films over the years but in reality, no time machine could bring someone back from the future, if the scientific theory is to be believed.

Doctor Who

Known as the "Time Lord", Dr Who travels randomly through space and time in his Tardis on the long-running BBC television series. He combats many weird and wonderful foes, while aiming to help civilisations in need across the galaxy.

The title character is a rogue Time Lord from Gallifrey - a planet 250 million light-years from Earth - who stole the Tardis. His time machine's full name is Time and Relative Dimension in Space and he uses it to travel at lightning speed through time. It assumes a disguise and looks like a random object from the era and planet where The Doctor lands.

Although everyone loves Dr Who and the idea of being able to travel through space and time, it looks set to remain a fictional concept for some years to come!

Theoretical physicists have suggested time travel into the future may be something we could possibly consider, travelling thousands of years into the future and ageing only one year, but as yet, there's no real hope of that happening with present technology. Time travel into the past is something that no-one has realistically considered because we don't understand the science involved.

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