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TIME TRAVEL

T h e T i m e T r a v e l

Ideas of time travel have existed for centuries, but when Albert Einstein released his theory of special relativity, he laid the foundation for the theoretical possibility of time travel. As we all know, no one has successfully demonstrated time travel, but no one has been able to rule it out either.

There may be no other concept that captures the imagination more than the idea of time travel -- the ability to travel to any point in the past or future. What could be cooler? You could jump into your time machine to go back and see major events in history and talk to the people who were there! Who would you travel back to see? Julius Caesar? Leonardo da Vinci? Elvis? You could go back and meet yourself at an earlier age, go forward and see how you look in the future... It's these possibilities that have made time travel the subject of so many science fiction books and movies.

Understanding Time
Astronomer Carl Sagan had it right when he said that time is "resistant to simple definition." Lots of us think we know what time is, but it is hard to define. You can not literally see or touch time, but you can see its effects. The evidence that we are moving through time is found in everything -- our bodies age, buildings weather and crumble, trees grow. Most of us feel the pressure of time as we are pushed to meet deadlines and make appointments. Our lives are often dictated by what time we need to be somewhere.
Ask most people to define time and they are likely to look at their watch or a clock. We see time as the ticking of the hands on these devices. We know that there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. These are the basic numbers of time that we all learned in grade school.

Time is also defined as being the fourth dimension of our universe. The other three dimensions are of space, including up-down, left-right and backward-forward. Time cannot exist without space, and likewise, space cannot exist without time. This interconnected relationship of time and space is called the spacetime continuum, which means that any event that occurs in the universe has to involve both space and time.

According to Einstein's theory of special relativity, time slows as an object approaches the speed of light. This leads many scientists to believe that traveling faster than the speed of light could open up the possibility of time travel to the past as well as to the future. The problem is that the speed of light is believed to be the highest speed at which something can travel, so it is unlikely that we will be able to travel into the past. As an object nears the speed of light, its relativistic mass increases until, at the speed of light, it becomes infinite. Accelerating an infinite mass any faster than that is impossible, or at least it seems to be right now.

But time travel in the other direction is not as difficult, and the future may one day be a possible destination...

Space Phenomena
While writers have produced some great ideas for time machines over the years, a real-life time machine has yet to be built. Most theories of time travel don't rely on machines at all. Instead, time travel will likely be done by way of natural phenomena that will transport us instantly from one point in time to another. These space phenomena, which we are not even sure exist, include:
Rotating black holes
Wormholes
Cosmic strings
We'll take a look at each of these in the following sections.

When stars that are more than four times the mass of our sun reach the end of their life and have burned up all of their fuel, they collapse under the pressure of their own weight. This implosion creates "black holes," which have gravitational fields so strong that even light cannot escape. Anything that comes in contact with a black hole's event horizon will be sucked in. The event horizon is the boundary of a black hole at which nothing can escape.
You can think of the shape of a black hole as similar to an ice cream cone. It is large on top and tapers into a point, called a singularity. At the singularity, the laws of physics cease to exist and all matter is crushed beyond recognition. This kind of non-rotating black hole is called a Schwarzschild black hole, named after the German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild.

Another type of black hole, called a Kerr hole, is also theoretically possible. Kerr holes are rotating black holes that could be used as portals for time travel or travel to parallel universes. In 1963, New Zealand mathematician Roy Kerr proposed the first realistic theory for a rotating black hole. In his theory, dying stars would collapse into a rotating ring of neutrons that would produce sufficient centrifugal force to prevent the formation of a singularity. Since the black hole would not have a singularity, Kerr believed it would be safe to enter it without being crushed by the infinite gravitational force at its center.

If Kerr holes do exist, it might be possible to pass through them and exit out of a "white" hole. A white hole would have the reverse action of a black hole. So, instead of pulling everything into its gravitational force, it would use some sort of exotic matter with negative energy to push everything out and away from it. These white holes would be our way to enter other times or other worlds.

Given the little we know about black holes, Kerr holes may possibly exist. However, physicist Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology believes that the laws of physics prevent such a formation. He says there is no such way to enter and exit a black hole, and that anything attempting to enter a black hole will be sucked in and destroyed before it even reaches the singularity.

Wormholes
Thorne believes there could be another type of tunnel-like structure existing in the universe that could be used for a time travel portal. Wormholes, also called Einstein-Rosen Bridges, are considered to have the most potential for time travel if they do exist. Not only could they allow us to travel through time, they could allow us to travel many light-years from Earth in only a fraction of the amount of time that it would take us with conventional space travel methods.
Wormholes are considered possible based on Einstein's theory of relativity, which states that any mass curves spacetime. To understand this curvature, think about two people holding a bed sheet up and stretching that sheet tight. If one person were to place a baseball on the bed sheet, the weight of the baseball would roll to the middle of the sheet and cause the sheet to curve at that point. Now, if a marble were placed on the edge of the same bed sheet it would travel toward the baseball because of the curve.

Time And Time Travel

We go along in our daily lives, from place to place. Different events occur at different times and as time passes we age. We might age a second, minute, hour, year or longer before we even notice that we have aged. To us it seems that time is moving in a straight line. By straight line I mean that it moves from the day of our birth to the day of our death. It never doubles back and repeats. This is how most of us perceive time, but are we correct?

Lets think of time in a completely different way. Imagine that there are little compartments containing our bodies. Now imagine that there is a compartment for every second of our life. In each of these compartments we exist at the correct age for that compartment. In other words for the first year of our life there are 31,536,000 compartments. This is calculated by 60 seconds per minute X 60 minutes X 24 hours X 365 days for the year. Now imagine that you are at the correct age for each compartment. If you were in compartment #60 you would be 1 minute old. Lets that this a step further we will call these compartments dimensions, for indeed that is what they really are. In these dimensions you consciousness moves forward into each new dimension and body and you think you are moving forward in time but your body really isn't. If this were the case, than time travel might be possible. One would have to be able to travel to the right dimension and them his consciousness could move forward with everyone else's. That would be time travel to the past. Now if these dimensions do exist than there is no reason not to believe that we could also travel to the future because these dimensions already exist.

Is there such a thing as a rouge black hole that travels through space? We now know that there are rogue objects do. If a black hole got near enough to a populated planet would it begin to alter their time by slowing down time? I believe that no has yet discovered this sort of black hole but I also believe that it would be very hard to discover unless it was near enough to something to extract material from it making the hole's event horizon visible due to the material in it. But maybe such a thing will be discovered in the future. And what about the black hole in the center of our Galaxy. Maybe it is altering our time and we don't even know it. The point I am really trying to make is that if another race exists somewhere time may not be the same on their home world as it is on ours.

Einstein stated that time slows down the faster we go and if we could reach the speed of light, which he said was impossible, it would stop completely. Surpassing the speed of light would make time run backward. The reason Einstein believed that speed of light travel was impossible was he had calculated that the energy required would be so immense that it would take more than the energy available in the whole universe to achieve it. So Einstein believed that we could slow down time but that was it. If you traveled in a space ship at near light speed on a five year journey and returned to earth, everyone you knew would have died of old age, since many more years would have passed on earth.

With time travel you get Paradoxes. Here is an example of one:

Mr X travels back into time and kill someone. That person was the one that introduced his great great great great grandfather to his great great great great grandmother. They never meet and Mr. X is never born. But this might not be able to happen. It may be that we can not alter the past and every attempt we make will be met with failure.

Stephen Hawkings, a famous physicist, believes that time travel is impossible. He cites the fact that no time travelers from the future have been discovered visiting us. He also believes it is impossible because in virtual time travel experiments the universe gets destroyed every time that time travel is attempted. When asked about this, another famous physicist, Carl Segan, in an interview on NOVA stated " ...But no one actually knows that this is the case, and it cannot be known ...


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