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Time Travel Theories

Updated on May 17, 2014

Time Travel Theories

In no particular order, let's explore the many various theories as to how people may someday travel in time.

Einstein and Time Dilation

Einstein postulated the idea of time dilation if traveling at extremely high rates of speed. This, in fact, has been proven to be true using very precise atomic clocks and a jet plane cruising at high altitudes. (They synced the clocks, one went up, and when it returned, the clock that went very fast at a very high altitude lost a fraction, a TINY fraction, of a second. But the problem with this is one must achieve speeds at or approaching 186,000 miles per second (or 670 million miles per hour -- the speed of light). And when one does this, they must also achieve achieving infinite mass.

Infinite Mass Tachyon Bombardment

Another option, a variation of the first: acquire an immense amount of energy (on the lines of a nuclear holocaust in a bottle) and bombard tachyons in a precise manner so that a person or craft could go along with the ride, so to speak. (A tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that travels faster than the speed of light.) Such a machine would need to be built in a place that would not be changed for centuries, an immense undiscovered cave for example, so that the molecular structure of the newly created gate would essentially be exactly the same on both sides of the timeline.

And then, as if this isn’t enough of a challenge, one must calculate the exact position of the earth relative to the sun and the Milky Way Galaxy in addition to just where the Earth’s rotation places you at both the time of departure and arrival. This should be done because let’s say I choose to use my nifty little infinite mass infinite energy tachyon turbo-booster to travel to six months from now. Well, six months from now, the Earth will have traveled halfway around the sun. And so, I would pop out of my machine into the cold and lonely universal void.

Imagination Becomes Real

There’s another theory that involves living so completely in every way in a specific time the subconscious mind begins to manifest this accurately imagined and lived reality. (This is from a book entitled, “Time and Again” by Jack Finney.) He and anyone else he associated with dressed, ate, and acted as if from that time. The newspaper of that time was delivered to his doorstep. He lived in an apartment built during that time and decorated as such, with no electricity no anything indicative of any time other than 1871. The apartment overlooked a natural park that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. With the help of daily meditations and visualizations of being there, he eventually appeared in this time on a quiet, snowy day when the road and machinery noise were muffled into near silence.

Events Cannot Be Changed

When it comes to complications and paradoxes, the least worrisome is the theory that I, being just a tiny portion of all living things on this earth, would not be able to effect historical change. Time and history is likened to a river, and me a stick. If I throw a stick into this mighty river, it will not block, slow it down, change its course in any way. The river will continue on unbeknownst that I threw my tiny stick body into its might expecting to make a difference.

And thus, if I learned lottery numbers, I’d have an automobile accident on my way to play, for example. Or, if I went back in time to shoot Hitler when he was just a kid, some force larger than myself would inhibit this from happening: A dog, for example, would trip me up and cause me to miss my well-aimed gun shot.

Using a Device, Your History Remains but You Can Visit Yourself from All Time

And then we have what I give credit as my very first (not counting children’s books) and most thought-provoking time travel book I’ve read. “The Man Who Folded Himself.” By David Gerrold. This book is the mac-daddy of all time travel stories. I’ll describe a little as though it were me:

A dying uncle visits and gives me a time travel device. As I stare at it thinking my uncle must be crazy, an older me, tomorrow’s me, visits with a newspaper and explains that we have a date at the horsetrack. I have a jolly day winning. The next day I visit myself just as I was visited. We BOTH go to the races together, him confused because this is so new to him, me kind of confident kind of weirded out because I’ve done all of this before.

The two of us are then visited by an older third. Now, there are three of us hanging out together. Over time, I discover a secluded mansion on the ocean filled with a whole bunch of myselfs, each one a different age, each wearing the same time travel belt. When I'm a much older unrecognizable me, I might want to reminisce and visit the racetrack to see myself on that first day when it begins to sink in that it's really true.

It got really confusing, but it was also a fascinating read. This is an example of your going back in time having no effect on your future or your self.

Grandfather Paradox

And then we have the "Grandfather Paradox," a Twentieth-Century theory postulating that if a time traveler went back in time and killed his own grandfather before he met his grandmother, then the time traveler would never have existed.

Just like in the movie “Back to the Future,” the protagonist had to go back in time and make sure his father and mother got together. The mother got enamored with the protagonist instead, and he noticed himself slowly disappearing from a picture he brought of his family. If he wasn’t able to bring them together, he would have never existed, thus causing him to either die or just poof away into the sky.

It never got to that point, of course, because Michael J. Fox is too cute.

Temporal Divergence at the Quantum Level

Allow me to pursue this “Grandfather Paradox” theory a little further. There are some who say… well, I’ll not paraphrase. I’ll just cut and paste his/her ideas. This is from the internet website of Chronos Technologies ("the ultimate guide to time travel, teleportation, temporal phasing, and other applications of nine-dimensional theory").

The opening of a time gate at the atomic level for only a brief amount of time can cause temporal divergence at the quantum level. This might cause a single electron or photon to be created, destroyed, or moved in a different way than it was destined to. This change may have absolutely no noticeable effects on the flow of time for a very long period of time, but the fact that the total energy state of the universe was altered even slightly will eventually and inevitably lead to molecular divergence.

In other words, entering into a different time, since you would normally not be a part of that, would force a molecular change since oxygen, carbon dioxide, and whatever else is in the air had to be squeezed out of the way to make room for you.

Chronos continues. “Molecular divergence occurs when a time traveler moves just a few atoms or molecules. This may alter local gravitational forces, temperature, fluid dynamics, and other molecular traits. As described in Twentieth-Century chaos theory, moving a single molecule can lead very quickly to significant seismic and climatic changes around the world. For example, moving a single air molecule in South Africa could alter the wind patterns in the immediate area, which in turn could alter the weather throughout the Southern Hemisphere, which in turn could lead to genetic divergence.

All this from moving a single air molecule? I think this may be a stretch, but I guess theoretically it’s possible over millions of years.

Temporal divergence at the genetic level occurs when a single individual ceases to exist -- or is created -- as a result of time travel. Every person's unique genetic code is determined by a specific sperm cell fertilizing a specific egg. A man produces a different sperm cell, containing different DNA, every few seconds, and a woman produces a different egg every month, so if a time traveler causes even a one-second delay in a chain of causal events, a different sperm cell will fertilize an egg, creating an entirely unique individual who never existed in the time traveler’s home continuum (and causing the person who existed in that continuum never to have been born in this timeline).

Did you get all that? Essentially, this person suggests that changing even the smallest thing can have a dramatic impact on the Earth millions or billions of years from now.

Also, you wouldn’t have to kill your grandfather in the Grandfather paradox. All you would have to do is delay him a minute or even just a second or two. This would cause your DNA to be different, resulting surely in you being less cute and cuddly with a tendency to procrastinate.

You Can't Visit Yourself!

There are some physics-oriented theorists and government conspiracy people who suggest that you can in no way visit your younger self. This is how it’s treated in the book, “A Fold in the Tent of the Sky” by Michael Hale. If you do, then the same cells and atomic structures will create an unstable state of two of the exact things being in separate places. This will cause both you and your younger self to implode as the two things try to once again return to one. The younger self will die of whatever, a heart attack maybe, as the mass of the two bodies force themselves into the space of one, causing the current you to also be gone since you will never have existed.

So, that’s kind of scary. And the part about changing even the slightest thing causing dramatic effects – not too hard to believe. Again quoting Chronos Technologies, Inc. “Temporal divergence far enough in the past can lead to changes at the evolutionary scale. For example, travelling a million years back in time could change the course of hominid evolution so that Neanderthal Man would become the dominant species on Earth instead of Homo sapiens. Travelling back one hundred million years into the past could cause evolutionary and geologic changes that would prevent the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, allowing them to replace mammals as the dominant life forms on the planet.

I could do something stupid, drop a match or a wheel or something, the Neanderthals pick it up, they become the dominant species. I don’t exist. We don’t exist. I will have wiped out humanity as we know it. Consider this scenario:

I arrive at a distant time and a foreign land. All around me looms thick vegetation and enormous piles of dinosaur crap. I hear powerful roars and shouting and screaming. I think I may have arrived at a dangerous, unpredictable world where one must fight to stay alive, where communication is merely grunts and screaming, where all civility is lost. I discover a group of Neanderthals trying to kill a great mastodon.

They see me, notice that I've clothed my body and am wearing socks, something that fits into those other things I use to protect my feet. From this simple observation, they learn to dress themselves in a way so they can survive colder climates. The population densities change. Millions of years later, they dominate the world. And since they have smaller brains and know mostly survival and killing off competition, they never let homo sapiens develop.

The world takes millions of years longer to develop technology. And on and on and on.

So, you can now see how one instance of just being in a different time, one small gesture, can dramatically alter the course of human evolution. Neanderthals could be the dominant species and now we live in an incredibly ugly-peopled planet.

Although some extremely learned people feel this theory to be truth, my instincts tell me that God would not allow such a massive erasure of history and mankind by one careless person’s actions. There must be another alternative.

Create a Parallel World or Two or Many

There is. If I go back in time and cause my grandfather never to meet my grandmother, then right there a new parallel world will be created in which I nor my parents and family exist but all other history essentially remains the same, up to the point at which my parents or their offspring or their offspring played a part in the historical timeline.

And so, parallel worlds exist allowing for each change created due to an action of the person traveling in time.

How would your world differ had you accepted a different job 10 years ago? Broken up with the father of your children before you got pregnant? Studied harder in high school? Applied yourself more in your dancing or sports as a little kid?

For all of these, you life 10-20 years later could possibly be dramatically different.

Could Mankind Not Screw Up Time Travel?

I once read that everything dreamed or imagined has already happened or will happen in the future. For something to be dreamed or imagined, it must somehow first enter into the consciousness of a human, and for such a thing to happen, it must reside in the superconscious mind of all humanity as a reality at some point in time.

Interesting theory. But given the natural tendency of man to NOT be able to control themselves when given power, I simply can't imagine time travel existing and us not being visited by people wielding such power.

Time Anomalies Discovered

Then again, there have been many interesting geological time anomalies found that indicate that some form of time travel must exist. Search on "time anomalies" and you'll find things like these:

In 1927 at Fisher Canyon, Nevada a fossil of a well-cut, double stitched leather sole was found by quarrymen. The rock was identified as Triassic limestone, 160 to 195 million years old.

Quarrying was done near the city of Aix-en-Provence, France, between 1786 and 1788. Buried 50 feet deep under layers of sand and limestone 300 million years old were found coins, the petrified handles of hammers, and pieces of other petrified wooden tools.

So, What Would YOU Do?

So, does time travel exist?

I think so, because it's something so many of us humans think about. But I also think that it's done differently than we can imagine or conceive of at this time.

Either way, I must admit that I do enjoy thinking about what I would do, who and when I would visit, should someone drive up to me in a time-traveling De Lorean telling me, "Get in!"

P.S. There can't possibly be a time travel article without mentioning Doctor Who. But since Doctor Who is a world in and of itself, I'll just provide links to what is possibly the greatest television series of all time.


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