Why Does Time Only Go Forward and Can We Travel In It?

I'll explain why backward time travel is doubtful, but there is a likelihood of forward time travel.
Backward time travel is doubtful but forward time travel may one day be possible.
Backward time travel is doubtful but forward time travel may one day be possible. | Source

Before I get into a discussion of time travel, we need to understand a little about what time actually is. Then I’ll discuss why it's doubtful to ever be able to travel backward in time. However, we can't rule out the likelihood of forward time travel.

There are a lot of discrepancies with the passage of time that we need to account for in our technological age. Not many people are aware of this, but we need to make constant adjustments to time. The only adjustment I'm sure you know about is the addition of a day during leap years.

There are more problems with time that the general public doesn't need to get involved with, but it affects our daily lives. Per Einstein's special relativity theory, "the faster an object moves relative to another object, the slower it experiences time."

This Time Dilation, as it’s called, affects the time that is registered by GPS satellites due to their speed in orbit. So calibrations constantly need to be made to account for the difference, which comes to about 38 microseconds per day. {1}


“The passage of time fluctuates for an observer based on mass and motion.”

— Albert Einstein


The question is, does time even exist? It’s clear that humans created a definition of time, and a means to measure it in a coordinated fashion so that we can all relate to one-another in our social interactions. But does time actually have a reality?

It's really hard to say if time actually exists or not. Quantum physics tends to show that there is some other means of moving within our three dimensional space without the passage of time. So time travel might be a mute point.

But besides all that, it’s still interesting to consider the possibility of traveling through time. It’s a fascinating subject that has enchanted people throughout the ages.


Time – A Displacement in the Fourth Dimension


Think of a single two-dimensional world, a flat surface.

Now imagine a second two-dimensional world parallel to the first.

The existence of a second two-dimensional world implies that there must be three dimensions for the both of them to exist apart from one another.

If you take this thought process one step further, imagine two three-dimensional universes parallel to one another. This implies that there must be a fourth dimension for the two three-dimensional universes to exist apart from each other. This separation apart is the time difference.

That is to say, the fourth dimension is time. If more than one three-dimensional world exists, then they must be displaced in time.

Now let's talk about time travel.

The existence of a second three-dimensional universe implies that there must be four dimensions for the both of them to exist simultaneously.

I don't mean simultaneously in space. I mean simultaneously in time.

If this were so then perhaps there is a connection between the two of them, a path from one to the other. This connection is what was meant by the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, a wormhole that connects from one three dimensional universe to another.

Traveling through a wormhole might transport one backward or forward in time.


Understanding the Concept of Moving Through Time


Time travel from one point in time to another, is similar to moving from one point in space to another. When we travel from point A to point B, a certain amount of time goes by. We don’t ever end up at the destination at the same instant as when we left. And most certainly, we don’t arrive at the destination before we left.

So how does this explanation help us understand traveling trough time? You have to expand everything from the three-dimensional world we are familiar with, into the fourth dimensional world of “time.”

I'll make it easier to imagine this. Take a piece of paper. Now, you know that paper has only two dimensions, length and width. Draw two dots on that paper, one on each edge. Think of those dots as inhabitants of this two-dimensional world. Now fold the paper so the two dots meet.

You have just bent a two-dimensional world and made the inhabitants of different points in that space meet at a single point.

Are you getting it now? If we were to do the same with time, which is separated in four-dimensions, and bend it over onto itself, then we would make the inhabitants of different points in time meet at a single point in time.


Backward Time Travel

Spiraling through geological time
Spiraling through geological time



I believe I have proof that the human race will never learn how to travel backwards in time. No future generation will succeed at this.

Here’s the proof:

If it would one day become possible to travel back in time, we'd probably be aware of visitors from the future. Have you ever met one?

If in some distant future humans, or whatever we have evolved to, would have had discovered a method of backward time travel, then we would notice those beings suddenly appearing before us when they weren’t there a moment earlier.

Since we have never had experiences of this kind, I have to assume that no one ever succeeded at visiting from the future. Besides, these visitors would have the ability to change our present or their history.

Anything we do, any small action, can have an enormous effect on the future. So if one were to go back in time, anything they do would drastically change the future from which he or she came. This is explained as the Butterfly Effect.


The Butterfly Effect of Time Travel


As I mentioned, any action in time can have an enormous effect on the future. If one were to go back in time, anything they do would change the future. And these changes can be drastic.

For this reason I don't think that backward time travel is possible. However, traveling forward through time is conceivable since it doesn't interfere with history.

Chaos Theory{2} can be used to show what I mean. Chaos Theory is the field of study that analyzes how future behavior is highly sensitive to past conditions.

This sensitivity is known as the butterfly effect{3} derived by Edward Lorenz. The flapping of the wings of a butterfly can eventually have an affect on some future event that is much more forceful, such as a hurricane.

The Butterfly Effect explains how a small change today can have a large effect on a future event.
The Butterfly Effect explains how a small change today can have a large effect on a future event.



Small initial differences can yield widely diverging outcomes many years later. When you step on a bug and kill it, your action may actually cause a whole new variety of species thousands or millions of years later. This is because you eliminated that single insect’s hereditary evolution.

Looking at it the other way around. Every species we have on Earth today evolved due to conditions in the past. Dinosaurs no longer exist because of a major catastrophe, which probably was an asteroid hitting the Earth.

I have my own theory. Dinosaurs had reached a level of high intelligence. They had created a nuclear bomb, and they used it. (Sorry, I just felt a little humorous for a moment).

Getting back to the point I’m making, if one were able to go back in time to our past and stepped on a bug, the world today would be affected. Maybe we’d have different types of mosquitoes. For example, more savage mosquitoes that eat humans. Then we wouldn't be here today.

So you see, the point is that if we were able to go back in time, it would also be possible that we'd create a change to the past that drastically affects our existence today. This is why backward time travel is impossible.


Forward Time Travel

I think it’s possible that someday the advancing human race will discover how to travel forward in time. It doesn't interfere with recorded history.

Forward time travel is conceivable. We actually are doing it already. We are always traveling forward to time, constantly leaving the present in the past. If you want to travel to tomorrow, just sit in your favorite comfy lounge chair and wait 24 hours.

Okay, what we want is advancement through time at an accelerated rate. Or better yet, an instant transfer.

A method of quickly moving forward in time may one day be discovered. Quantum Physics already shows examples of particles that move from one place to another without ever existing in the space between the two points. This is known as Quantum Leap.

I propose a new term that I call Quantum Time Travel, a leap into the future. If it were possible for a particle to leap through a three-dimensional space, then why wouldn't it be possible to leap through the fourth-dimension? That is, time.


“Time travel may be possible, but it is not practical”

— Stephen Hawking



Stephen Hawking spent years trying to prove that time travel can’t be accomplished. But he couldn’t find any laws of physics that stood in the way. He eventually admitted that it may be possible, but it is not practical.

Did you find this article interesting? See "More by this Author" below.


© 2015 Glenn Stok

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 12 months ago from The North Woods, USA

I LOVE THIS. Great Hub. Two thumbs up. Was looking for you to mention that time is the distance between two points in space.. and you basically delivered. Thoroughly enjoyed this hub. Fun, funky, informative (for those who don't know), and a good time for those who do know. Keep it up, I'm a new fan..


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Faceless39 - Thanks for being the first to read this and of your wonderful comment.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 12 months ago from Rural Arizona

Wow, what a thought provoking hub. This is a subject I have often thought about but you put it into a perspective that is understandable.

Just think how much someone could make off the stock market if we could go back just one day in time. I'm not sure I would care to travel into the future because life as we know it now may not even exist anymore.

I do however have a few friends who have been able to freeze time and they still live in the 50's. You remember the hippy days don't you? Sex, drugs, and rock & roll. For most of us those days are gone forever but for them they still exist.

Perhaps time really is just a state of mind?


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Old Poolman - I have given thought to that too, about making money on the stock market by going back just a day, or even just an hour when there's a big move. That's another reason why backward time travel is an impossibility. It just defies all logic.

I agree with you that life will not be the same, or exist at all, sometime in the future. If we were to go forward way into the future, we might find that the only life left is insects.

I also know what you mean about people who live in the past and are stuck there. Thanks for your relevant comment.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 12 months ago from Rural Arizona

Your point of changing the future by traveling to the past is awesome. Changing history would have an immediate and permanent effect on the present. Now if the time traveler was a sane and educated individual with a clear cut mission, this might be OK. But with some of the nut cases roaming our streets today time travel to the past could, and probably would, wipe out all signs of human life.

I'm glad you wrote this. It gives me something to think about today.


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California

To the point you're making that if time travel to the past was possible we would be encountering these guests from the future all the time - there is a theory that says that the so-called "aliens" are in fact humans from the future; that they are not so much extra-terrestrial as they are extra-temporal.

And although you can argue that no one has definitively proven the existence of aliens, millions of people around the world claim to have been visited, contacted, abducted or otherwise encountered these beings in some shape or form. Something to think about...Great hub!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

kalinin1158 - Be careful where you get your information from. You don't want to be one who spreads nonsense. The experiences you speak of where people claim to be abducted by aliens has been shown to be by people who are prone to paranoid thinking. There is a neurological explanation for each report of alien abduction claimants.

Pick up a copy of "Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference Held at M.I.T. Cambridge" at your local library and learn from healthy thinking professionals.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean

Yes I find the article interesting though it challenged my gray matter. Happy that backward time travel won't happen. If there is anything good at all about it, the bad might scare us away from it. Thanks for the challenge to think.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

MsDora - Actually, forward time travel is scary too. We might travel to a future that is void of life. But that's the subject for another hub that I might write someday.


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California

Glenn - you're talking about time travel and I'm spreading nonsense?

I get my information from multiple sources, including a respected U.S. Navy Commander and scientist George W. Hoover, and I've been studying this phenomenon for years. Not to mention, many "healthy thinking professionals," including Albert Einstein who you're quoting in your article, believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life, and that the reason we had not encountered any aliens yet was because of our search methods.

As for the so-called alien abduction cases...this is a more complicated phenomenon than the tales of "anal probes" so I would caution you against dismissing thousands of people as paranoid or mentally incompetent. That's not healthy thinking to me.

Like I said, it's just a theory to entertain, but I'm afraid you've taken it much too seriously.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

kalinin1158 - Please don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say they are mentally incompetent. I said they are prone to paranoid thinking. And that is quoted from a finding from M.I.T. as I mentined in my prior comment.

My discussion, if you read it thoroughly, is that forward time travel is more probable that backward time travel. That's a lot different from the way you put a lot of weight on the theory of "aliens" just because millions of people claim they were abducted.

By the way, I happen to agree with Einstein. But you misunderstood him. When you consider time going to infinity, there is a strong chance of live existing elsewhere in the universe. But the chances of another intelligent life form existing at the same exact time as us is greatly reduced because we are simply one tiny point on the timeline of the universe. And another life form would have to coincide with that same tiny point on the same timeline. This happens to be a very interesting subject that intrigues me.

I'm not arguing with you. I appreciate your interest and your beliefs. It's just important to me that we keep the record clear about the concept I discuss in this hub. If you noticed the title of this hub, I am sure you will understand.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 12 months ago from Oakley, CA

Very interesting. Some random observations:

1) If travel to the future might become possible, but never backwards time travel, those travelers would be stuck in the future, whether or not they liked what they found.

2) "Traveling through a wormhole might transport one backward or forward in time." ... Or, you might instead travel to another galaxy or parallel universe, and get stuck for years in the Delta Quadrant. ;-)

3) We do experience time shifts fairly rapidly now, both forwards and backwards in time, if only from our human-imposed artificial timekeeping system. Any time you travel across the time zones, you are moving backwards or forwards through time, depending upon direction of travel.

The International Date Line throws a whole other aspect into this. When my daughter was in the San Francisco Girls' Chorus, we hosted some girls from an Australian choir. They had a 14 hour journey, including a change of planes in Hawaii. Upon arrival at our home, they were understandably very tired, but one of them said, "Well, according to my watch, we just left home a half hour ago!"

4) Quantum Leap, eh? I recall a TV show by that name, but it was more about leaping into different situations, (and into the actual body of a person in the situation), in different locations to solve a problem, and not time travel. It was an amusing show, even if it was a very far-fetched plot line.

Very interesting article. But no backwards travel? Hmm.. check out Nell Rose's article on the Liverpool Time Slips. There are a couple she's written around this topic. And I have a very tongue-in-cheek nonsense bit of fluff I wrote about "How the Universe Works."

Too bad they took away our voting buttons, for this is worthy of all the votes.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

In response to each of your points:

1. That would be correct. Time travelers would be stuck in the future.

2. Yes. A wormhole is the theory. But I proposed the idea that one can only go forward in time, if at all possible. Traveling to another galaxy would be travel through three-dimensional space. That's another subject.

3. Not so. Just because you set your watch back or forth does not imply time travel. Proof is that if you make a phone call from your new destination to someone in your home time zone, you would be able to talk to the other party in real time. (Not taking into account the fractional time delay for the electrical impulse to travel).

4. The TV program "Quantum Leap" has nothing to do with actual scientific physics research and has nothing to do with what I was talking about. I know you knew that, but just keeping the record straight.

Thanks for your comments and info on the other hubs. I'll check them out. I enjoy light hearted tongue-in-cheek humor too.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 12 months ago from Oakley, CA

Yes, Glenn, I realize all of that... for # 2 and # 4, I was being facetious; #3, I just thought was a funny story of the girls' experience. ;-)

You must remember: I am a professional smart-ass! ! I didn't spend 3 years in improv comedy for nothing. LOL ;-)


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 12 months ago from Rural Arizona

I love discussions like this. Gets my old brain juices flowing again.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 12 months ago from England

I love quantum physics, and time travel is one of my favourite subjects! it totally fascinates me. I do tend to think that we sometimes have a glimpse of future or past time travel, I remember reading about a woman who looked up in the sky and 'saw' an old air balloon from the first world war. she watched it for a few minutes then it just disappeared. in the same way that Edgar Cayce mentions the fact that someone was driving along a road back in the 40s? not sure, but as they travelled they saw a shiny car type object go past. Evidently the person in the other car saw him, and he saw them! then they disappeared! so, yes time is a strange thing, hope one day we will figure it out! great read! nell


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Nell Rose - Interesting experiences you mentioned. There are many explanations for these types of phenomena. A person's perception can be affected by what the mind judges to be real.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 11 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

You have me interested in this I was a science teacher and taught lots of this. Well done article that gave this reader the information I needed, Glenn. Glad you are here with these science articles.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 11 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Reynold Jay - Your confirmation of my article's information means a lot to me because of your authority on the subject as a science teacher. Thank you so much.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 11 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Glen, this was a very interesting and thought-provoking hub on time travel. It's mind-boggling with the ideal concept of it. This was well-written and explained on how it could be done.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 11 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Kristen Howe - Thanks of your feedback on this hub. I can see that you understood what I was saying. Thank you.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 weeks ago from southern USA

Hi Glenn,

I'm so glad I found this fascinating article here! Time has always fascinated me and the thought of time travel certainly too.

Your research on time travel and your findings that time travel going back in time will never be possible, certainly makes a lot of sense as you have explained it here. However, that is what most people would like to do. I don't think I would want to travel into the future, being, as you've pointed out, you can't come back and who knows what will be there, if anything!

On another note, I just noticed that ad at the top of this hub, and I think it's the one I saw the arrow moving on, and now I think it is just part of the ad, being the arrow is clicking on the various squares on the ad ...

Blessings


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 weeks ago from Long Island, NY Author

Faith Reaper - Thanks for your detailed comment, it shows that you perfectly understood where I was going with this. Many people argue when I try to explain the logic behind my conclusions, but you got it!


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 weeks ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Glenn: For Your Eyes Only

Thank you for doing an excellent job of convincing the inhabitants of the 21st Century that time travel into the past is impossible. I'm sure your article will make our job of regulating such excursions easier.

Since we require that a traveler to the past have extensive training in the behavior and speech of the period, plus appropriate clothing, money, and other artifacts, if we are doing our job well, none of the natives of the period will ever notice their time visitors. And now, with your explanation of why such travel is impossible, they won't even be looking.

Good job! I'm proud to be your supervisor.

Zoal Ezzle, Chief of Station

Time Travel Bureau

21st Century Division


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 weeks ago from Long Island, NY Author

RonElFran - Good one Ron. Makes sense. Can't argue with that one. Just be careful and don't trip up and change the future that had had occurred prior to your assignment to the Bureau.

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