TIME TRAVEL

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TIME TRAVEL: FACTS AND FICTION

I’m sure we’ve all thought about it before. What if I could go back in the past and changes things about my life? Sound like fiction, like shows and movies such as “The Time Tunnel”, “Dr. Who”, “Quantum Leap” and “The Time Machine?”
Man has always been fascinated with the prospect, but in our reality, we are unable to change certain things, even if we could go back. But is going back in time an impossibility?
Well, that depends on your perspective. In space, astronauts are traveling at speeds much faster than us, causing time to move slower by a matter of milliseconds. It is also a proven theory that if something moves closer to the speed of light, time slows down. Einstein called this space time, which was a radical term at the time
because most scientists believed that time and space were not connected and were separate entities.
But can we, without a spaceship, travel backwards or forwards in time? The answer is yes. Consider this: You are traveling from New York to Los Angeles. If you had a direct flight(which is a big if), it would take approximately 5 hrs at 500 mph. If you left at 5:00pm, you would get there at 10:00 pm, but in New York it would really be 2:00 am. However, if you were able to travel at twice that speed, say 1000 mph, you would get there in half the time and be in there at 3:30, an hour and a half before you left New York. You have, in essence, traveled back in time. The same rings true if you go in the opposite direction, you will go ahead in the time to the next day. The sad part about this scenario is that you wouldn’t be able to change anything unless you knew what you were trying to change. Sound confusing? It can be!
Scientists believe, however, that with the help of wormholes, going back in forth in time could one day be achieved. The problem with any of these theories is that you cannot go back farther than the point of creation of a wormhole, time machine, etc. In the new version of the Time Machine, they goofed on this one. His wife is killed before the creation of his time machine, and he goes back before that to save her from getting killed. This is impossible, however, because it was not invented yet. The same wrings true of Quantum Leap, and The Time Tunnel, and so on. HG Wells version got this one right for he only travels to the future, and not the past. This is a more plausible theory. What would you change if you could go back? I know a few things that I would have changed, like beginning to start a writing career much earlier. Tomorrow I will discuss the paradoxes involved in time travel and how they could affect future or past events. Here are today’s links:

http://www.livescience.com/19582-time-travel.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_travel
http://www.scienceinschool.org/2009/issue11/timetravel

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TIME PARADOXES

I’m sure you’ve seen this in movie at one time or another. The lead character must go back in time and meet a younger version of himself, or he must go back to stop a killer from completing his crime, or he must go back and stop someone or something that is also from the future, etc. But are any of these versions of paradoxes even possible?
I could go into all kinds of different theories, but it can get very confusing, and the last thing I want to do is confuse anyone. Let’s take a very simple scenario and investigate some of the theories. You must go back in time to stop a younger version of your father from assassinating someone, and you must kill him yourself. What would be the result?
The first theory(Bootstrap Theory) suggests that anything a time traveler does must have been a part of history all along, and you cannot change history. So if he was meant to kill someone, even you killed him first, there is nothing to suggest that someone else wouldn’t kill the other person. Even if you killed your father, you would have to do it after you were born. Otherwise, you would not exist(grandfather paradox.)
Then there is the theory of (Cannot Has not) involving the theory of a time machine. If a time machine is created, you cannot go back before it was created. Vice versa, if a machine is created in the future and sent back to the past it could not go back to before it existed, and would therefore not exist yet. The same applies to a wormhole. If one travels through a wormhole to get to the past, it could not go back to before the wormhole was created.
Physicists have other theories, however, that make time travel a possibility. One possible version is the multiverse, where many parallel universes exist. This would allow you to go back and kill your father because he is not really your father, but a another version of yourself. Another theory is the “Branching universe”, in which there are many rivers of time which can be altered an changed, depending on the outcome of each result. In this theory, if you could alter the past by having a child with your great grandmother, your father would not be your father, but someone else. Therefore, you could kill him and it would change history.
Lastly, there is the theory that states that if a time machine were invented, one can only travel to the future, which is a spinoff of the (Cannot Has not) theory.
All of these possibilities are just theories,and only a few of the many, and have no basis in fact. No one has obtained the ability to create a time machine, and even if we do in the future, there would be evidence because they would have traveled back to the past. It is mostly the stuff of science fiction. Join me tomorrow when I will discuss some of the theories that NASA has come up with to obtain the ability to travel through time. Until then, today’s links are below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporal_paradox
http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/time-travel6.htm
http://www.quirkbooks.com/post/classic-time-travel-paradoxes-and-how-avoid-them

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NASA’S TIME TRAVEL THEORY

NASA has been working some time on ways to travel faster in space, but they realize that our nearest celestial object(Mars) is even two years away by our current propulsion method. They also realize there is only one way to travel through time, and that’s forward.
That’s why they are currently developing a system right out of science fiction and most commonly known in the series “Star Trek”-the warp drive. But what is a warp drive, and how will it enable us to travel faster than the speed of light?
Miguel Alcubierre came up with a theory 18 years ago to address this issue. It involves the bending of space time in front of and behind a vessel, instead of moving the ship itself. The main problem with the theory is that you would need enough exotic matter to equal the mass energy of the planet Jupiter.
NASA believes they have a solution to this problem by merely tweaking the warp drive’s geometry, and reducing the energy load by oscillating the space warp, allowing us to travel to our nearest star, Alpha Centuri, in weeks or months rather than light years.
If it is possible to do this, a person traveling that distance would only age a day or two, as opposed to the month it took him to get there, but everyone else on Earth would have aged a month. He would in essence, have traveled forward in time.
The technology is still decades away, if it is even possible at all. The laws of physics by our knowledge do not allow a deliberate attempt to bend space and time, although science has proved that the bending of space and time does indeed occur naturally throughout our universe.

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The other theory involves wormholes, which also theoretically naturally occur in our universe, but are very small. We would have to find a way to stretch the wormhole to pass through it. In my book “Dimension Lapse”, the wormhole generator does just that. It stretches a pre-existing wormhole using the energy of a nearby star or black hole. The problem with this theory is you would have stretch it open long enough to pass through it, which is very hard, because wormholes would close as fast as you opened them. You would need exotic matter, again, to stabilize the wormhole. This would allow you travel to another point in the universe light years away.
Tomorrow, I will present how time travel is presented in science fiction, what is a good time travel story, and what is just nonsense.
Until then, here are today’s links:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/technology/warp/warpstat_prt.htm
NASA Actually Working on Faster-than-Light Warp Drive
http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/podcasts/transcripts/071129_time_travel.html

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TIME TRAVEL AND SCIENCE FICTION

Today I will discuss what I think are the most realistic time travel movies, books, and tv shows and which ones are just not up to par.
Let’s start first with books. Definitely the main ones that resemble time travel theory in reality are HG Wells “The Time Machine” and “A Wrinkle In time” by Madeleine L’Engle. I’m sure there are many others, but those are the two that I have read and have popped in my mind. In the Time Machine, the professor, who is simply known as “the time traveler”, explains to his colleagues how he has built a machine allowing him to travel in time. This story is very well researched in the physics of the time, and does not allow travel to the past. Although the other characters suggest this to the main character, he refutes it as impossible. In “A Wrinkle In Time” , a young girl meets Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who, who are really alien beings that travel in a device known as a “Teserect”, which to me bears a uncanny resemblance to the Tarus on Dr. Who. This was an interesting story, but the physics are not central to the story, even though she got the bending of space and time right. This one is more about the characters.

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Then, there are the endless movies of time travel. From The Terminator and Back To The Future to Star Trek, everyone seemed to jump on the bandwagon. My favorite of all of these would have to be “The Butterfly Effect.” Although this one is technically not a scientific time travel movie, it explores the implications of what can happen if we make the wrong choices in life. The method of travel in the movie is, of course, absurd, but I do like the premise.
Another one like that is “Back TO The Future”, which is also absurd, but the trilogy is a lot of fun to watch. “The Time Machine” again as a movie is one of the most feasible. Who can forget “The Planet of The Apes”, in which Charleston Heston travels years into the future, only to find out Earth has been taken over by a bunch of apes! What a bad day for him! “The Terminator” is also a fun movie, but if the world has fallen apart, it makes you wonder how they were able to find time to build a time machine to send Kyle back. Another rather romantic movie is “Somewhere In time”, where Christopher Reeve’s main character travels back in time and falls in love with a women from the past. “The Lake House” with Sandra Bullock and Keuna Reeves is similar. Star Trek explores the concept both in the series with a “time warp”, and in the movie “The Voyage Home,” using some solid science to back up their theory. And then there’s Jean Van Claude Damme’s farse “Timecop”, which I find totally ridiculous.
As far as series go, there was a number of them. My favorite was always “The Time Tunnel”, even though the premise was total nonsense. They would never be able to travel back before the tunnel was created(see below-in time paradoxes). This was also true in “Quantum Leap.” It was a “Leap” in belief that he could even go back in time, let alone pop into someone else’s body. It was a great drama series, but as far as science fiction goes, total garbage! “Stargate” was probably the closest series to address the physics issues by using wormholes as a catalyst to move back and forth in time and space. Of course, one cannot rule out the time lord himself, Dr. Who, who was probably the best example of how a time travel TV show should be. Leave it to the British to come up with the best sci-fi time travel show.
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Well, those are my opinions, take them or leave them. If there are any I didn’t mention, please feel free to post them in the comments section. There are no links today. Tomorrow, I will wrap up the series with a little insight on time travel, how it will relate to a future story I am writing and the next edition of the “Dimension Lapse” saga. Until then, use your time wisely. Remember, you can’t change your past, only your future.

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TIME TRAVEL REFLECTION
I will wrap up this week’s series with reflection and insight. I can remember watching The Time Tunnel when I was a kid and wondering how neat it would be to travel through time. I also sometimes wondered what life would be like in the year 2000, 2012, and so on.
Now that I have met the future, it is not much different from the past, just different technology, fewer jobs, and more people. People and themselves haven’t changed much. There are people who will always be good, honest and nice, and people that will be arrogant, mean and nasty. Food shortages are still prevalent all over the world and so is war.
If you could travel back and forth in time, what would you change? I would have changed some of the things I did as a teenager. I would have studied harder, and decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I don’t regret anything that I did or didn’t do because life is full of valuable lessons.
In my sequel, which will hopefully be out next year, Akros’ daughter travels into the future to find her father, via wormhole and suspended animation(a topic I haven’t touched on yet).
She finds more than she bargained for, when an old nemesis returns to even the score.
It will be interesting to see how I can develop a plot with time travel that will be both believable and compelling. Please join me Monday for a brand new series.

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SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE REALITY

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