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Travelling Back In Time Is Impossible - This Is How!

Updated on February 14, 2017
Trihorus profile image

Time travel has always captivated Trihorus, he has spent hours exploring various possibilities and has his own set of theories.


Time travelling is popularly depicted in science fiction and movies like Back to the Future, Donnie Darko, The Groundhog day, etc. have piqued interest in the concept over the years. If you have the means then you can possibly:

  • Go Back In Time:

    Who wouldn't want to go back in time to see themselves when they were young? and if you are smart enough, you can prevent certain mistakes you made long ago. You can correct all of them! You can even witness some of the greatest events in the history of mankind like spectating revolutionary war battles, maybe sailing with pirates in the western Mediterranean sea, visiting ancient Egypt, watching Jesus Christ perform miracles right in front of you! You can even get creative and go 65 million years back in time in the Mesozoic era to find dense forest and dinosaurs all around you.

Earth was a land of the reptiles some 65 million years ago.
Earth was a land of the reptiles some 65 million years ago. | Source
  • Go To The Future:

    Running out of some ideas? Want to be an inventor? You can do so by jumping ahead in time when revolutionary technology creeps everywhere around you. All you have to do is learn how it works and then spend some time in your garage recreating all that you learned. That was just one of the ways you could exploit the time machine. If you want then you can visit the future to watch future episodes of any series you are interested in or watch the finals of an event while it may have just started off. And even consider that you can prepare for future events ahead in time - like a test you are having the next Monday? No problem, just go to that day, take a copy of the question papers back with you so can prepare it to score a full!

But Wait!

Before you get too excited and begin packing for your extraordinary journey through time, make sure you know how to handle these paradoxes stemming due to time travelling.

  • Bootstrap Paradox:

    What if you take a printout of Mona Lisa, a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and take it back in time. You take it to Da Vinci before he had made it and influence him to make the exact painting. Now, who made the painting? If you say the painting was made by him, then that's not possible. He simply copied it from the printout you brought him, and you can't even claim that you made the painting. The printout was of the painting originally painted by Da Vinci. Such a situation causes objects to have no original cause which implies they're self-created.

Da Vinci painted this painting brought by you from the future, it gets famous over time and you happen to take it back to him so that he can paint it.
Da Vinci painted this painting brought by you from the future, it gets famous over time and you happen to take it back to him so that he can paint it. | Source

Predestination (2014)


Watch as a temporal agent tries to catch a man, who has been evading him through time and watch the consequences of the predestination paradox. From government's secret time travel programs to a man entangled with himself, this movie brings out the best of the paradox.

  • Predestination Paradox:

    One day you wake up to find your coffee mug missing. It's nowhere to be found as if it just disappeared into thin air. You wonder where your mug disappeared overnight, and so you get your time machine and return to the last night. There you are, eyes locked onto your mug. It is there and you're waiting to see what happens to it. You keep waiting, and nothing really happens. Frustrated, you decide to drop your idea but take the cup back to your time. When you bring it back, is when you suddenly realise where your mug had disappeared overnight.

    You can watch the amazing movie - Predestination (2014) based on the same paradox. It will literally blow your mind! while giving you a better understanding of the paradox as well as that time travelling can lead to extraordinary situations.

  • Temporal Paradox:

    What happens when you go back in time and mess with a cause that produced some effects in the present?

    • The Grandfather Paradox:

      One of the most popular paradoxes, the grandfather paradox unfolds as you go back in time and accidentally or intentionally kill your grandfather. The only problem here is; that if you kill him, one of your parents is never born which means that you too were never born. And if you were never born, then who went back in time to kill him in the first place to prevent you from coming here in this world?

    • Hitler's Murder Paradox:

      There is a secret assassin squad whose members are all time travellers and only target famous individuals. They prevent these individuals from ever being famous by exterminating them before they get all that fame. The catch here is, the exterminated individuals would never get the opportunity to garner the fame and hence would disqualify to enter the targets list in the first place.

Get A Better Idea Through A Video

Consider This Thought Experiment

If you did manage to circumvent through the above-stated list of paradoxes, then here is where the real problem gets highlighted. Before we can understand what really prevents time travelling to the past, we should understand the fundamentals of time travelling.

For easier understanding, let us consider a timeline.

  • In it, the present is where your consciousness and our reference frame will be and the timeline extends forwards to the future and backwards into the past relative to whichever frame we choose.
  • Each and every position you are onto the timeline has a future as well as the past.
  • Every passing moment, you are leaving a trail of the past behind. You are presently reading this sentence but some five minutes back you had just begun reading this article. The Past is what has been done, and it will remain as you had done it whilst that was your present.
  • Keeping that in mind, let's change our perspective and consider you from five minutes ago as the reference frame. Now for that frame, its past would be you doing whatever you were doing before opening this article but the future would be you reaching to this section of the article.
  • We can deduce from the above point, that the present is simply copying the future, and the past is copying the present.

Now we shall apply the above-deduced concepts into our thought experiment. Let's consider you travel back in time, probably a day and meet yourself. A question that would arise would be; Will you be able to go back in time in the first place? Probably not. Because as we concluded earlier, for an action to happen it should first be initiated by the future, then only it can be copied by the present, which later has to be followed by the past. To put things into perspective - for you to travel back in time; first, your future should initiate that action which it would have copied from its future and so on, and since your future first initiates that action of visiting its past (which is your frame here) then that must mean for you to travel back in time, first your future self should have paid you a visit the earlier day. If you were in fact visited by your future self a day before, then you can the next day copy that action of visiting your past. While if that doesn't happen; that is you were not visited by your future self a day before you plan to do so, then that prevents you from generating an event that your future didn't do. if we see from your future self's perspective then that would mean its past is not following its footsteps.

What Can Be Concluded?

There are a couple of things that this thought experiment brings to the forefront.

  1. It's impossible to go back in time:

    It might be quite obvious that travelling back in time isn't possible unless that particular action has already been introduced in a particular timeline.

  2. Free will ceases to exist:

    This thought experiment seems to imply that free will does not exist, or is just an illusion brought about by our inability to look into our future. Because any decision you make in the present has already been done by your future. What you are doing, is merely copying your future, acting along a defined path.

  3. Does any action have a genuine source?

    Your past copies your action. You presently are copying your future. Your future is copying its future and so on. No conscious being can introduce any new action into his timeline, and each such entity from the timeline with different levels of awareness with respect to time would be acting according to what their futures have for them. For example, if you are reading this article right now, you are doing so because your future did read it and interestingly, if the next day you travel a day back in time, you'll see yourself reading this article. So, who introduced this 'reading of article' in your timeline?

(Fortunately, I have found a way to figure out how to preserve your free will. I will be covering the same in a separate article.)

Would you risk creating time travel paradoxes if you had the time machine?

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Thanks for stopping by and reading this article. Before you go, head to the comment section and let me know what would you do if you had the time machine!

© 2017 Trihorus

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    • Trihorus profile image

      Trihorus 10 months ago from The Multiverse

      Yes, I agree with what you say. I'm describing the conventional timeline which brings out the following inconsistencies. The possibility of a string of timelines existing is highly likely, and I am soon going to cover the same in a separate article. Don't worry our free will isn't under any threat! :)

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 10 months ago

      I disagree with your concept of free will ceasing to exist. Time isn't a single line, it's a stream and each of us at every moment (the smallest time step in reality) are together at a point. But the next time step we have the option to make decisions that allow us to jump to a multitude of possible points. The cumulation of decisions by everyone and every living creature in the universe (stuff that has free will) decides where we all meet on the next point of the time stream. The line need not be straight imo. You can go back in time and the time line would change since it's a curved line. The comic and now series "The Flash" portrays exactly what I believed. Like I said earlier, this is my opinion and need not be true.