Tarry for the Nonce

April 5, 2006

The Prime Directive, Perhaps?

Filed under: Science — lmwalker @ 2:06 pm

Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut has devised an experiment to observe a time traveling neutron in a circulating light beam. While his team still needs funding for the project, Mallett calculates that the possibility of time travel using this method could be verified within a decade.

The have only one problem the possibility of time travel: if it’s so all-fired possible, why haven’t we had visitors from the future?



  1. Well, actually I am from 2427, but we are told to keep a low profile. Violate the licensed flow of history in any undesirable way and the temporal police will go back prior to the time-space breach and repair the aberrational flux. Did you know that one of our guys came back with an anti-gravity device and levitated the Statue of Liberty back in 1976, just for the fun of it? Of course not, because the t-cops (a slang we use) went back prior to the event, confiscated the gravitron machine and incarcerated the violator with forced exile to 250 million BC Antartica– which actually was pretty nice back then, except for the bird sized mosquitoes and and the Locunae, a short-lived alien race that colonized earth for about a thousand years before becoming ill with a plague and becoming reduced to a goo that your paleontologists mistake for dinosaur dumpings.

    Oops! I have said too much, I hear them coming! Will they erase this post, make sure these comments were never made? Probably not, they will just chance it that you all think I am nuts!

    Comment by Theo Cogent — April 5, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  2. It could be that we don’t get any tourists from the future for the same reason Nebraska doesn’t get any tourists from anywhere.


    Comment by Toly — April 5, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  3. Its true! I time travel every day. Unfortunately, its only in the future, which, last I checked, was the only ‘physics’ly possible time travel. The posts on the article were a bit insightful, mainly that the guy is coming out with a book, and needs to get his name out there so people will actually buy it.

    As for Theo, well, since the article indicates that travelling back in time would put you into a different universe, then you must not be from our future, but from one of those alteruniverses.

    Comment by Andrew P. — April 5, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

  4. What Andrew says has been speculated by certain scientists, that if backward time travel and tampering were possible, the result would be fractured alternative dimensions. Some scientists suggest this even without time travel, that every choice we make creates a new universe, distinct from another dimension where a different choice is made. Others claim that there is a determinism, despite chaos and string theory, where there can be no deviation, either in physical laws or in human choices where freedom is an illusion.

    Physics allows for the movement forward in time, and at higher velocities, even faster than the rate we usually experience. The problem is backward time travel. There is a matter of contradiction: can a man go back in time and kill his grandfather? If he does, then he ceases to exist. If he ceases to exist, then how could he go back to kill his grandfather? Science fiction has tried many ways to deal with the problem, including determinism where only small inconsequential things can be altered. However, Ray Bradbury immediately saw the problem with this, suggesting that even small changes can be amplified in the future. Thus, if determinism rules, time travel backward would be impossible. If there is no determinism, and everything is flux, then a small change could have unforeseen and cataclysmic changes. Bradbury writes a story where a clumsy dinosaur hunter steps upon a butterfly, perhaps the saving meal for a primate or a cause for reflection, and when the man returns to the present, he finds a ruthless political regime in place of a democracy and a more ruthless humanity.

    Some scientists have theorized that both determinism and freedom might have a place. Thus, if backward time travel were possible, any changes made would cause a secondary line to branch off from the main time line. Again, there was speculation, that if possible, the fabric of the universe might find itself increasing stretched by such tampering and that it could either break down or at some tension point revert back to the initial pattern, eradicating all events and persons created in the offshoot branches.

    There is still another notion for backward time travel that relies upon a successive big bang expansion and shrinkage. Poul Anderson wrote a book called TAU ZERO where space travelers approached the speed of light and found it difficult to decelerate. The universe grew old while they aged normally. In order to get home they went forward faster and faster, past the deflation of the universe and the next big bang. They then decelerated and found the new earth at the appropriate period in its history where all that was, was once again. Several short stories have used the same theme, that backward time travel is possible by going far enough forward.

    My head hurts now, bye.

    Comment by Theo Cogent — April 6, 2006 @ 10:35 am

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