Time Travelling: Is it even possible?

Time Travelling has been an eye-catching topic for a long time, especially in the sci-fi fantasy genre of literature and filmography. Even the simple thought of it brings joy to the soul and excitement in all the nerves all around the body. The sheer idea of being able to go back in time and experience the greatest moments in history before your time, or relive your best moments, or even correct the mistakes you made. Or to be able to jump into the future, and experience all that is yet to be when it hasn’t even been in your own time. All this from just pure imagination. I say imagination because, as glorious as it may sound, the possibility of time travelling is, least to say, unachievable, at least for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely flattered by the prospect of time travelling just as much as the next person, but what I’m saying is I just don’t really see our current generation and the next few generations of humankind making time travel possible. Obviously, there have been a lot of research regarding time travel and parallel universes, the two most hottest and interrelated topics of Science, mostly among teenagers and young adults of today’s generation. But what is it that makes time travelling so hard and almost unachievable? To start things off, let’s first understand what is required for time travel. Let’s forget quantum physics and wormholes for a while, and look at the basic script. According to the study of one of history’s greatest minds, i.e. Albert Einstein, time travelling requires the traveler to travel at a speed greater than the speed of light, which is 3 × 108 m/s. But it has also been deemed that we cannot travel at the speed of light. In Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, he has explained that as an object moves faster, the mass of the object increases and its length decreases. Thus, at the speed of light, the mass for the object would reach about close to infinity, but its length would go down to zero, which is unrealistic. So, without being able to fulfil the basic requisite of time travel, it is impossible for humankind to be able to make time travelling possible.

And that’s not all. There have even been arguments regarding the physical existence of Time itself and the existence of the past and the future whilst we live in the present. Researchers have argued that Time is neither real nor unreal, but it is something hard to perceive. Philosophers have stated that physical time exists outside the human mind and is objective, and psychological time is mind-dependent and subjective. Even Albert Einstein got involved, arguing that Time is indeed a physical thing and is part of space-time. Furthermore, ideas have come forward that the Present is just a hoax sandwiched between the Past and the Future because if the Present is a moment in time without duration, then it simply can’t exist. Even the Past and the Future are said to no longer exist except in memories and expectations respectively as it is merely the Present that changes. The Past and Future are only used to describe the real, changing and isolated Present. Thus, if the Past and the Future don’t even exist, there is no way we can travel back and forth to time.

There are also tons of controversies and ponderable questions regarding Time Travel. First of all, if any person were to travel to the past and change the events in the past, the outcome of said event would change. Then would the reality that the traveler originated from be scrapped off and a newer reality begins, or does a parallel reality stem off the original reality? Moreover, the Grandfather Paradox or Consistency Paradox also comes into play that occurs when the time traveler might cause the death of their direct parent or grandparent, especially from the paternal side of the family, leading to the birth of the time traveler being realistically impossible, thus creating a paradox. Also, there are lots of pictures in the internet that shows people in the past equipped with devices too far ahead of their time. The question lies whether those are fake, real, or just coincidental that the objects were held in a certain way that made them look like they were from the future? Most of these questions are answered, and seem likely to remain unanswered for as long as time travel remains unachievable.

However, there is talk of travelling through time on a different rate per second. This isn’t exactly the type of time travel that we are accustomed to, but it is a talking point that is turning heads around. An article on NASA’s space-place website states that we all travel in time, just like how we travel one year in time between birthdays, all in the same speed of one second per second. So, when we say travelling through time, we are usually thinking of travelling faster than one second per second. As per Einstein’s statement that time travel requires a speed faster than the speed of light, although it does eliminate the possibility of general popular time travel, the lesser known travelling through time can be possible as the faster we travel, the slower we experience time. The Hafele-Keating experiment was conducted on the basis of this statement and was proved to be correct. The experiment that used two clocks set to the exact same time. One clock stayed on Earth, while the other flew in an airplane (going in the same direction Earth rotates). After the airplane flew around the world, scientists compared the two clocks. The clock on the fast-moving airplane was slightly behind the clock on the ground. So, the clock on the airplane was traveling slightly slower in time than 1 second per second.
In a nutshell, time travel is currently unachievable, although development of technology can make in possible in the future (and non-existent) future. Going to the past or the future remains in our fantasies, but experiencing time in slow motion or faster speed is, however, quite possible.

Siddhartha Tamrakar
Kathmandu University School of Management

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