What good sci-fi movie doesn’t involve time travel of some sort? It’s an intriguing concept, and one that fascinates humans, enough so that we’ve even come up with “time travel rules”, just in case. But is this all just fantasy? Or could we actually figure out the science behind time travel one day? Here’s what the experts think:
1. Time dilation is technically time travel.
Einstein gave us general relativity, and general relativity has given us the first potential time travel option. Time dilation is a consequence of general relativity and was first demonstrated using an atomic clock experiment. Two clocks were synchronized, and while one stayed on the ground, the other was taken up in an airplane. When they were reunited, the clock that took a ride was slower, and by the exact amount Einstein’s equations predicted. What this essentially demonstrated was that time can be experienced differently depending on frame of reference. That in and of itself is a type of time travel.
2. If wormholes exist…
The most popular time travel theory involves wormholes. At this point they’re still in the theoretical realm, but many scientists believe that they’re entirely possible. What wormholes are thought to be are structures that connect two points in space that are extremely far apart. They’re essentially shortcuts that allow you to travel from one location to another instantaneously, whereas to travel the “long way” could take thousands of years. There are a lot of issues when it comes to wormholes, from their creation to how exactly they could be used for transportation. For now, they’re just a concept, but an intriguing one nonetheless.
3. Even if we can, the past is off-limits.
Let’s say we do create a traversable wormhole or use time dilation travel in time. What would we be able to do? Time travel paradoxes challenge our understanding of the laws of physics, and one “rule” that has emerged is the idea that if you invented a method of time travel, you wouldn’t be able to travel into the past, because you would be returning to a time when you didn’t have that time travel method and thus the whole thing becomes moot. But that still leaves the future - and there’s a lot of that to explore.