Time Travel Explained

Wouldn’t it be great to hop in a time machine and go 10 or 20 years into the future? What about the thrill of seeing a grandparent when they were 25? Time travel remains a fascinating topic, but are we closer to flitting about the universe, and what are the ramifications if we do?


As an author, I drool at the idea of time travel. The possibility opens a Pandora’s box of plot twists that has me giddier than a cat cornering two fat mice.

But you need not be a scientist or an author to be fascinated by time travel. The space-time continuum has sparked authors to write, movies to be made, and geniuses to theorize, but what is time travel?

So, without all the technical terms, let’s explore the concept and hopefully stir up a healthy debate!

If you remember nothing about gravity, pretty much everybody recognizes the name Sir Isaac Newton. Visions of apples bonking his famous head come to mind and thus the laws of gravity were written down. Mr. Newton remains an icon in science classes worldwide.


Now, what does Isaac Newton have to do with time travel, you ask? According to numerousscientists, Sir Isaac Newton came up with the concept of a 3-dimensional world. It deals with motion, force, velocity, etc… He saw time as a constant flowing stream. It’s rigid. We move in one direction at a constant rate. In other words, time travel is impossible. Fortunately, other scientists kept theorizing, and for our sakes, time travel became a possibility. (For science enthusiasts, look up the Galilean Transformation.)


Galilean Transformation coordinate systems

From Newton, we go to the frizzy-haired genius and his theory of relativity. Yes, Einstein helped change the way time was viewed in modern society. Electromagnetics piqued quite the interest and with it Einstein’s first theory of relativity was writtenin 1905. What’s the hullabaloo? Well, with Einstein and James Maxwell, the man who invented electromagnetic equations, they helped to show how time varies in relation to the observers location.

Special relativity directly opposes the Galilean Transformation. The difference involves the speed of light represented by the letter c. While the Galilean Transformation says velocity (c) may change, in special relativity it stays constant at 300,000,000 miles/second and is the primary building block of the theory of relativity. Another important part theorizes that the laws of physics remain unchanged in inertial reference frames. Okay, so what’s an inertial reference frame? Essentially, it’s something that stays in constant motion but shows no acceleration. This was the “Aha” moment for Einstein. Time and space were NOT separate after all. They create a 4-dimensional space-time continuum!

Now, 3-D versus 4-D I can get! Time is measured as coordinate time (two stationary people measure time) and proper time (measured by one person). In short, proper time helps us figure out time travel.

Einstein’s General Relativity, founded on four principles, is another helpful way to propel us into the future or back in time. Without all the boring details, he states that matter warps time through gravity. A space-time curvature takes place around matter. For example, stretch out plastic wrap and place a heavy marble in the center of it. The marble sinks into the plastic wrap; thus, curvature takes place around the marble.


I know, I know, but what’s it got to do with time travel, right? Well, it all suggests that time travel IS possible. But how?


The only crux is that travel is easier going forward rather than backward in time. Why? Apparently, traveling backward takes going faster than the speed of light. That’s mighty fast. Only tachyons can travel that fast. However, scientists have turned an eye toward black holes, wormholes, and time machines for a solution.

Black holes, you say? The thingy that’s thought to rip matter apart? Yeah, no! Not a viable option. And you’d be right. Black holes may, and I emphasize may dump out into another point in the space-time continuum, meaning the past. BUT it will kill you. I’d rather keep my fingers and toes intact, thank you very much.

Next up: time machines. Tardis enthusiasts unite in jubilant glee, mocking weeping angels everywhere, because a time machine is where it’s at. Hop in, push a few buttons or pull a lever, and within two clicks of the heels you’ll be transported to the future, past, or alternate galaxies. Easy peasy. Except… unless supplied with ginormous amounts of negative energy, we’d create a black hole… and you know where that leads.

If black holes and time machines cause dismemberment and excruciating death, then what other viable option is left? Wormholes! Yes, many have speculated that wormholes are key to unlocking all that time travel affords. Of course, as long as scientists can counteract tidal forces, and the fact that wormholes aren’t stable, then wormholes would work. Down in the dumps? No worries. If a negative energy source were to be found strong enough to keep the wormhole open, then eureka! We’re traveling, people.


So, are we close to time travel? Maybe not, but it is possible. Who knows, maybe Area 51 scientists have perfected it. With that in mind, what could happen? Would you travel to the future? If so, how far? Or would you travel to the past, and why? Would it be fun to walk through history, or would you try to stop a murder or a war?

My next blog post will be on all the “consequences” and will hopefully include some of your thoughts. So, please comment below, and stay tuned!


Happy reading!