Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could travel back into time, and experience a different decade of history? Or if we could instead jump into the future, and see what destiny has in store for us? Well, some physicists believe that time travel is actually possible due to new research.
A group of researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, has actually found out how to simulate how time-travelling photons could behave. In this simulation, they were able to demonstrate, at least on the quantum-level, how the grandfather paradox, which is what would make time travel impossible, could actually be resolved.
Using single particles of light, otherwise known as photons, the study simulated quantum particles traveling backward through time. In studying their behavior, scientists found strange, new aspects of modern physics brought to light.
“The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations. Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict,” said co-author Professor Timothy Ralph.
The Daily Mail explains:
“In the simulation, the researchers examined the behavior of a photon traveling through time and interacting with its older self. In their experiment, they made use of the closely related, fictitious, case where the photon travels through normal space-time and interacts with another photon that is stuck in a time-travelling loop through a wormhole, known as a closed timelike curve (CTC). Simulating the behavior of this second photon, they were able to study the behavior of the first – and the results show that consistent evolutions can be achieved when preparing the second photon in just the right way.”
It was Albert Einstein that first sparked belief in the mind of physicists that time travel could indeed be a possibility. Special relativity states that space and time are aspects of the same thing, known as the space-time continuum, and because of this, time can actually speed up or slow down, dependent upon how fast you are moving in relation to something else. General relativity would suggest that it could be possible to travel backward through time by using a space-time past, or a CTC that returns to the starting place in space but arrives at an earlier time.
As recently as 2012 physicists David Wineland and Serge Haroche shared the Nobel Prize in physics for explaining “quantum weirdness” and how it theoretically could exist at a subatomic micro-world level, but also could show itself in the macro-world.
“The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories – Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics. Einstein’s theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules,” said Martin Ringbauer, a Ph.D. student at UQ’s School of Mathematics and Physics and a lead author of the paper.
While many physicists and scientists have been able to theorize and provide research that could point towards a chance of time-travel being possible, it is quite hard to speculate at this time. Stephen Hawking suggested recently in his BBC documentary that it doesn’t seem to be a probability in reality. We will just have to continue to sit back and await new research that proves indefinitely what is and isn’t possible, however, until then, we can at least imagine what it would be like to move forwards or backwards in time.