I was reading an online article the other day which excitedly reported that someone has figured out how to make a time machine. They haven’t built it yet, but the article pointed out it’s completely possible. The article was based on a new paper published in Classical and Quantum Gravity, and the workings are all mathematically correct.
The way the time machine will work is this: Scientists will create some sort of artificial worm hole, held open by “exotic materials”. It would loop spacetime around back onto itself, and you’d need to go faster than the speed of light in order to use it.
The media saw it as something to write about, since people are bound to be interested a possible time machine. More online clicks mean more advertising dollars. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure the person who did the original study is well aware the idea is not feasible. They were simply exploring the depths of mathematics and ignoring certain laws of physics.
Firstly, any potential invention that requires you to travel faster than the speed of light in order for it to work is not really an invention, but a fun idea. It’s much like me saying I could be invisible if I had an invisibility cloak.
It also requires the use of “exotic materials”, which is something scientists discuss when speaking about wormholes. If wormholes do exist – which they may – scientists know they that they would become “pinched off” very quickly. This means they would require some sort of “exotic material” to hold them open. The thing is, these exotic materials do not exist – scientists are simply explaining a “what if” scenario.
We already know from Einstein that time is not linear, we can move through time at different speeds. But we still only move forward, and time only changes relative to everyone else’s experience of time. It’s not like a scene of Back to the Future, where you can arrive in the future to see what your grandkids will look like when they grow up.
As for going backwards in time, there’s this cool thing called the Grandfather paradox: If you could go back in time, you could go back and kill your Grandfather before you were born, in which case you would have never been born, so how could you go back in time to kill your Grandfather? (Head explodes).
While that’s not very scientific and has more to do with logic than physics, it might be worthwhile to point out that Stephen Hawking himself has said time travel backwards is not possible. In hindsight, I probably should have started with that point.
But there’s no turning back now…
It got me thinking about the articles we read, which many people take as “news”. I could quite literally go online right now and submit an article which states I have already invented this time machine. I managed to not only break the laws of physics and travel faster than the speed of light, but I also discovered the non-existent “exotic material” which was needed. (It was coconut oil: as you know, it’s good for everything.)
While you could argue that such an article wouldn’t be accepted, a lot of online media outlets these days have “backdoor access” where contributors have a login and can just post whatever they want. Places like Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and plenty more.
I don’t mean to go all Trumpy here, but I’m really tired of this fake news. It’s a different kind of fake news… not where we are all secretly out to get ol’ Donald, but one where Joe Bloggs can say whatever he wants and there’s no fact checker in sight, no-one to say “hey, should we maybe check if this time machine is even scientifically possible before posting this in our publication?” But then, I guess even with a fact checker, the answer would be, “Nah, clicks means advertising bucks, so all good.”
Anyway, enough talk… I’ve got to get back to working on my DeLorean – a bit of coconut oil on the flux capacitator and I’m pretty sure I’m onto something.