How can I travel through time?
Here we will look at some of the ideas and terminology behind proposed methods of time travel â€“ both those with a scientific sounding, and others which, for now, remain in science fiction. After all, many great scientific applications we use in our everyday lives started out in science fiction!
Mechanics of time travel
Time travel has not yet been realised â€“ at least, not in the sense of a working time machine which allows physical objects (including people) to travel to a different point in time. This is not to say that the methods or mechanics of time travel are not known. Many theories have been suggested and some proved to some degree. Other methods are still way beyond even the experimental stage.
The scientific view, naturally, is that in order to find a method of time travel we need an understanding of the physics which powers the engine of our time machine. For this we turn to various theories which describe our known physical universe (e.g. Einsteinâ€™s theory of relativity and M-theory) and try to find ways in which time travel is permitted, or at least, not forbidden â€“ and therefore exploitable.
However, the methods – the means by which the mechanics are engineered â€“ have been problematic to realise. In particular, the huge amounts of energy which are required to transport a particle into the future is a tough limitation. Some successes have been seen in other areas though, such as exploiting time dilation or faster than light speed travel.
These methods, having not yet made it from the drawing board into the everyday world, could perhaps be argued as being fictional. It’s a close call…which of these methods have a future, and which are doomed to spend the rest of their shelf life…on the shelf? We won’t know the future of these methods until the time comes. Until then, maybe we should call them ‘scientifictional’ methods!
Conversely, time travel methods used in fiction are powered by raw imagination…and in this there is no limitation – either in methodology or in implementation! Some are closer to realisation than others.
This section is therefore divided into three parts â€“ the first two deal with those methods of time travel with a scientific footing, and other time travel methodologies more founded in fiction (for now…!). The final section refers to the fuzzy area of the spirituality. Astrologists and prophets proclaim to be able to see into the future, and whilst this is clearly not science, it would be unfair to call it fictional and therefore a separate section has been made.