It’s About Time

It’s been in the news quite a bit lately, but could time travel be happening already?

Time travel has been in the news quite a bit lately. I recently read that Matt Whitaker, the acting Attorney General of the United States, had been on the advisory board of a company that asserted that traveling through time could soon be possible. And last December Arnold Schwarzenegger said he wished he could go back in time so that he could stop fossil fuels from being used.

time travelBy the way that is a bad, bad idea. No one would be able to bargain with him. They couldn’t reason with him. He would feel no pity or remorse or fear and he absolutely would not stop until he killed every single coal plant and oil rig. That idea needs to be terminated.

But it’s not just Matt Whitaker’s company that believes in the possibility of time travel. Some very intelligent people such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking thought that it was scientifically feasible also.

Who knows, maybe people are already traveling through time. There is a photo from 1928 that appears to show a woman talking on a cell phone and another from 1941 that shows a man dressed in late 20th century garb. Then there is the 2006 video of a Swedish man who claims that he was accidentally transported to 2046 while attempting to fix his kitchen sink.

This is why I don’t fix anything around the house. Things can go horribly wrong. More recently a British newspaper ran a series of articles about futuristic men revealing themselves and warning about natural and man-made disasters. There is also a growing suspicion that Elon Musk is a time journeyer from the future. How else could one person be so scientifically awesome?

Great Scott! What if it’s true? It would be so cool to trek through time. Hawking said you just have to build a machine that can create a path through the 4th dimension, also known as the space time continuum. How difficult can that be?

Naturally, there are engineering obstacles to overcome in constructing such a vehicle. It would be especially challenging for an accountant like myself who is incapable of simple home repairs. But with today’s technology it should be a piece of cake for a smart engineer. There are actually books on how to build one (seriously) and there must be tons of information on the internet. Once you understand string theory, black holes and wormholes you just have to work through the mechanics.

delorean time travelYou first need to acquire a DeLorean because, as the renowned Dr. Emitt Brown said, “If you are going to build a time machine into a car why not do it with some style.” But you need more than style. The key is speed.

According to Einstein, time is elastic and dependent on speed, slowing down or accelerating depending on how fast an object, or a person, is moving. He understood that to achieve time travel your vehicle would need to travel almost as fast as the speed of light, which is 186 miles a second. This should be achievable. It isn’t that much faster than my wife (aka Speed Racer) drives on the Autobahn.

Propelling a DeLorean that fast would require enormous amounts of energy. That is where the flux capacitor and the plutonium powered nuclear reactor come in.

Once you have your machine built, you could zip ahead to find out how our planet is holding up. But what if in the future we are ruled by cave dwelling Morlocks or English speaking apes? That wouldn’t actually be worse than today, but would still be depressing. No, the future will be here soon enough. The past is where you should go.

This being cutting edge technology, you’ll need to ensure that the DeLorean can take you where you want to visit in the past AND bring you back safely. You wouldn’t want to end up with Custer at the Little Big Horn or, worse yet, stuck in 1919 just as the loathsome prohibition amendment is being enacted?

Keep in mind that there are other hazards related to traveling back in time. One is the Grandfather Paradox which points out that if you visit the past and kill your grandfather (accidentally or because he suggested your awful middle name) then you would have destroyed the original you. Hint: to get around the Grandfather Paradox just do away with Grandpa after your Dad is born.

But you also need to be aware of another risk called Chaos Theory. This theory states that a very small change can sometimes have an enormous impact on the future. The example often used is a butterfly in Brazil flapping its wings and creating a future hurricane in Texas. So as much as you would like to warn the people of Pompeii or those planning a relaxing voyage on the Titanic, you can’t. Even a seemingly innocuous thing you do on your sojourn to the past could create havoc in the future. However, you might consider going back to early November 2016 to warn Americans that they are about to elect Biff President of the United States. Chaos Theory be damned. Things couldn’t possibly get any more chaotic.

Everyone will want to visit different places and times. My itinerary would include a journey to ancient Rome for breakfast with Cicero, then off to Greece to lunch with Aristotle followed by dinner with Confucius and finally late night drinks with Churchill. If it wasn’t for Chaos Theory I’d also head to the Garden of Eden to warn Adam not to risk paradise for a lousy piece of fruit. Hold out for a piece of pie or a nice tart. Your descendants are going to hate most fruits and vegetables.

I would also visit myself in the 1970s to explain how stupid plaid bell bottoms and wide belts looked. And I’d caution my past self against buying that Chevy Vega (worst car ever made) but strongly suggest that the young me buy some choice stocks such as Microsoft and Apple when they become available.

Of course, I wouldn’t rule out taking the DeLorean back in time to buy the winning Powerball ticket when the jackpot was rich enough.

JC Wade
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