Hurtling through time to hopefully correct some terrible wrong is a popular theme in science fiction stories, including my own. (click on the “My Book” tab to learn more about Hegira). But how could it possibly be done… and are any of the theories even remotely scientifically possible, in the theoretical sense? Let’s investigate some of the film and book ideas.
Time Warp: This, as I understand it, is basically traveling so much faster than light that you break the time barrier and, through incredibly complicated equations, you can hit the brakes and wind up back in time precisely where you intended. This is usually accomplished by allowing a star’s massive gravity to pull you in. Unfortunately, those calculations are so complex that it is highly unlikely anyone, or any computer, could possibly get them right in the time required to survive the trip.
Worm Holes: This is somewhat related to going very fast scenario. Create a worm hole to connect two different points in space and time. Unfortunately, even the best theoretical worm holes, perfectly fine by Einstein’s relativity rules, are incredibly small. So tiny only microscopic particles can even dream of fitting through them. Not to mention the amount of energy required to create one is somewhere around galactic proportions. One more problem… worm holes are terribly over done as a method of time travel, at least in my opinion.
Time Machines: Most scifi time machines are explained by their ability to utilize some exotic alien technology or non-existent form of matter which can bend time around the machine enough to zip the device and any occupants through time. Science can’t deal with imaginary technology, but there are theories involving closed time loops by using incredibly focused gravity fields. Once again, requiring immense and as of yet impossible energy sources.
Cosmic Strings: My personal favorite as I co-opted this one for my novel. The universe contains theoretical strings of energy, either infinitely long, or in closed loops, which, if found in close proximity, could warp space-time enough to allow for time travel. So far none of these strings have been discovered, but they are theoretically possible.
Black Holes: If you orbited a black hole close enough, but not so close you cross the event horizon, you could reach a significant portion of the speed of light. Therefore, time would slow down for you relative to everyone else. Spend a few months orbiting this fast, then break free and head back to earth. While only a relatively short time has passed for you, Thousands of years may have passed for the earth-bound. Other than a time machine, this is probably the only way to travel forward in time.
This list is not complete, but I feel it does cover the most scientifically based and theoretically possible methods of time travel. When you stop to think about it though, we most likely will never develop the technology to accomplish this incredible feat. If we ever do, then where are the time travelers? Surely something must have been noteworthy enough in the past seventy-five years or so to come back and witness. Can they really be all that good at playing hide-and-seek? Humans are inevitably careless, so some time traveling intern or something must have left behind some evidence of their visiting us. Or maybe they killed their grandfather, and then were never born, so never made the trip and left behind the evidence. Paradoxes make my head hurt.