Monday, August 01, 2011

Is Time Travel Really Impossible?

According to this news article, scientists have demonstrated that a photon cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Since a photon is well, a single particle of light (according to my understanding of quantum physics, light is both a particle and a wave; it depends on what properties you're trying to measure), this doesn't seem like a surprising conclusion. Apparently scientists at one point saw something that they thought was evidence of superluminal pulses, but it turned out to be just a visual effect. So Einstein has been proven correct once again.

I haven't seen the original scientific article; even if I had, I probably wouldn't follow it very well since this isn't my field of expertise. However, I think it's stretching the point to claim that this article proves time travel is really impossible. (I personally think the writer or editor made this claim to get people's attention; I guess it worked.) I'm not sure of the implications of this experiment for tachyons. Also, I don't think this articles proves that time travel via wormhole is impossible. I know there are other proposed methods for scientifically plausible time travel, but I'm not as familiar with them.

What are your feelings about time travel? Do you think it'll ever be possible? Even if you think time travel is forbidden by science or just too difficult for us to achieve, do you think it's still worthwhile using it in science fiction?

9 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I heard about this and my initial reaction was: Why would they announce something like this? Don't they usually make announcements when they have a breakthrough? Perhaps they're saying it's impossible because in actual fact, it's the complete opposite and they don't want people to start travelling all over the place." Seriously. :o)

mooderino said...

I don't think so. Although our understanding of time (and of reality) is so poor who knows?


mood

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I agree with Mood - time is just another dimension and one we just don't understand yet. And there is very little that is truly impossible.

Anna Banks said...

I agree, it seems juvenile this early in the game to say it's impossible. In fact, seems irresponsible to say it's impossible. Time is a line on a graph. It extends both ways, forever. Our transmission just doesn't shift in reverse yet. :) But I still think it could, and I think it still has a place in sci-fi. And the whole tachyon thing, to me, would have been more worth the research dollars.

Rogue Mutt said...

Everything's impossible until someone does it.

Michael Offutt said...

We don't understand enough about time. It's affected by gravity and by velocity. Because it can be affected, I think that there is always a possibility of the fantastic.

Eric said...

Interesting post. Call me cynical though, but I doubt we will ever know if time travel is possible. The level of technology we'd need to accomplish it is extreme and that sort of thing is tightly controlled and monitored by the US government (our supposed freedoms notwithstanding). This is may be soapboxy, but our government hides stuff under the guise of National Security all the time (try Googling National Security Letters for example) and I highly doubt they would let something like time travel slip through their fingers. As far as the possibility of it however, I still think it's possible.

Liz said...

So, time travel is impossible using that method. Okay, then. Perhaps another way.

I don't think time travel will ever be possible, but it's still an interesting thing to think about, so it makes for worthwhile stories. That's the point of fiction anyway, to imagine scenarios that could be. And to learn from them.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm writing a trilogy about a breakthrough in wormholes I tried to confine solely to space and not time. But time just keep elegantly rolling out of the passages, naturally, beautifully, regardless how hard I tried to stuff it deep down and hide it.

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