How To Time Travel


DR. RONALD MALLETT: It’s gotta be something
a little bit more sophisticated than a DeLorean, but the possibility of travelling to the future
is real. DR. RONALD MALLETT: [Laughs] You got it. DR. RONALD MALLETT: I had to keep my passion
for time travel a secret for decades because I wanted to build up my credentials as a legitimate
physicist and the thing is is that any legitimate physicist who was talking about it was risking
professional suicide to talk about it. It’s been a rocky road because you’re not getting
the support that you need because you’re not telling people who might help you what it
is you’re trying to achieve, even those closest to you. And I can remember feeling very depressed
because I felt like I was getting nowhere in trying to understand how to build a time
machine. And there would be times in which I would just sit in a dark room listening
to Simon & Garfunkel pondering whether all of my life had been a waste to do this. I
started actually getting heart palpitations. I was put on medical leave for about 6 months.
This condition..um..which I was being treated for was the thing that led to my breakthrough
because for the very first time in my career I was totally isolated. That is to say I didn’t
have anything to do except think about all of the information I had been processing for
decades about the various possibilities. DR. RONALD MALLETT: Time travel is now entering
into the domain of the legitimate. That is to say that the present generation of physicists
who grew up with Star Trek are now the ones who are part of the legitimate community.
So it’s much more open. Although the way in which it’s stated in scientific publications,
which is code words like “close time-like loops”, which is the same thing as talking
about time travel to the past. A number of physicists are working on various ideas. One
of the most well known is the notion of the wormhole. A wormhole is just simply…a very
simplified way of thinking about it is that suppose you have a rubber sheet..a flat rubber
sheet. And suppose you cut a hole in one side of the sheet and you cut a hole in the other
side of the sheet and you connect those two holes with a tube, that’s a wormhole. This
allows shortcuts through space and time and it turns out that by manipulating a mouth
of a wormhole in the appropriate way, its possible for a space traveller to travel through
a wormhole and come back and see themselves travelling back into the wormhole in the past.
So a wormhole is a possibility. The other possibility are what are known as cosmic strings.
These cosmic strings are long lines of matter that are..were created. They’re sort of like
fault lines in the universe that were created after the universe was created. And these..if
these fault lines are passing eachother, these these cosmic strings are passing eachother,
they can create a loop in time and along that loop in time and along that loop in time you
can go back into the past. So this is another mechanism. And then there’s my work, which
I found a different way. It turns out that in Einstein’s theory, not only can matter
create gravity, but light can create gravity as well. If gravity can affect time and light
can create gravity, then light can affect time. And so my idea was to use light to manipulate
time. My time machine would essentially look like a tunnel of light. It would look like
a circulating cylinder of light. Think of the coffee in this cup as being a portion
of space and think of the spoon as being like a circulating light beam. Imagine, now, that
if I take the spoon and stir the coffee, you can see what’ happening to the coffee. That’s
what the circulating light beam is doing to empty space. The circulating light beam is
causing empty space to get swirled around and creating a vortex. But if you stir it
strongly enough, it can actually begin to twist time into a loop because in Einstein’s
theory, space and time are linked to each other. Whatever you do to space also eventually
happens to time. So in addition to twisting space, you will eventually twist time into
a loop and along that loop in time you can go back into the past and that’s the core
of my idea. DR. RONALD MALLETT: What I didn’t realize
when I began was the fact that there was gonna be a limitation. For instance if I turned
the device on today, a loop in time will begin to form. And if I leave it on, for example,
let’s say 10 years, someone could travel from 10 years back 7 years, 5 years, all the way
back to the beginning where the machine was turned on. But they can’t go back earlier
than that because the machine didn’t exist earlier than that. That means that time travel
to the past is possible, but only from the future after the device is turned on. You’re
not gonna be able to travel earlier than that, which answers the question why we haven’t
see time travel tours because that means that the first human scale time machine hasn’t
been built. But that meant that I was going to be blocked from my possibility of visiting
my father, which was very bittersweet for me. However, I have to say that one of the
things is is that because I’ve reached the goal theoretically, I feel that that’s something
that my father would have been very very pleased with, that I have achieved that. And it allows
me, I have to say, to be passionate but its not as all-consuming because I now realize
that in addition to wanting to control time, it’s important to want to live in time. And
ultimately, for all of us, even though time travel will allow us to have an unprecedented
control of our destiny, we all only have the present moment in our lives and it’s important
to live that moment as fully as possible. That’s what I have learned.

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