What If...

A Working Theory of Time Travel

The science fiction that turned into science "fact."

From HG Wells’s Time Machine to Star Trek’s phasers, science fiction has always tantalized the imagination. Some ideas, such as the satellites first envisaged by Arthur C Clarke, have transformed the world. Others, such as the cloned dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, have proved a distant dream. But slowly, the fantasies seem to be seeping into reality: last week alone, quantum physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came up with a working theory of time travel; a flying car entered production in the United States; and parents panicked over the idea of their children becoming addicted to a “digital drug”. But has the MIT team really shown that time travel is possible? Sort of – but you’re unlikely to be able to drive a DeLorean back to 1955 like Back to the Future’s Marty McFly. MIT’s quantum time machine would allow scientists to affect particles in the past (and, in principle, people). But even if one is created, it won’t physically move objects back in time: instead, it would simply change the history of those objects.


At least a quantum time machine is guaranteed paradox-free – so no concerns about accidentally killing your own grandfather.


Kemo D. 7

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