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Editorial    by Royce Carlson

December 12, 1999

Time Travel Anyone?

The concept of time travel was practically born with modern science fiction when H.G. Wells wrote "The Time Machine", and has been a subject of many science fiction novels and movies ever since. The paradoxes of traveling backwards or forwards in time are an endless source of intriguing plots and complex problems to solve in a potentially exciting and entertaining manner. It raises questions like, "If I went back in time could I meet myself when I was younger?" or "Would I change the future and possibly eliminate my existence if I went back in time and prevented my parents from meeting before I was born?" The implications are mind-boggling. Its popularity in fiction has become almost mainstream. But, is it theoretically possible?

There are researchers and theoreticians on the fringes of science working on this and, guess what? They have web sites! One of the theoretical approaches involves finding loopholes or implications in Einstein’s space-time theories and proposing broader ones that can include the possibility of travel through time. Another approach is the "multi-dimensional" idea that there are many dimensions and time is just another one. As we can move forward and backward along a line (a 1-dimensional concept) or back and forth through 3-dimensional space, consequently we should be able to move back and forth through time if time is indeed a 4th dimension. The studies range from almost-accepted scientific research to really fringe ideas.

Associated with some research into time travel is the study of the possibility of traveling faster than light. Einstein’s theory specifies the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) as the limit of how fast anything can go. Some theorists find fault with Einstein’s theory and believe that super-luminal travel is possible. The concept of faster-than-light travel has also been important as a literary tool, particularly in science fiction related to space travel. It turns out that space is so huge that, at slower than light speeds, it would be almost impossible to visit with aliens on their home worlds because it could take hundreds of years to reach them. Super-luminal travel makes it possible to go from adventure to exciting adventure via "warp drive." Scientists on the edge are working to make it possible.

Science fiction has often preceded actual inventions and even catalyzed scientific research so we may be able to visit our ancestors or distant galaxies in fact, rather than fiction, sometime in the future… or the past… or….?

Visit Zenzibar’s Time Travel category for more 
information on Time and Superluminal Travel.

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