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Understanding Time

Space Phenomena

Black Holes

Wormholes

Cosmic Strings

Problems with Time Travel

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Instant Poll for Visitors
Will we ever be able to travel through time?

Yes, but only forward
Yes, forward and backward
Yes, only backward
No, never
Maybe someday in the future

My Site for Time Travel

The Official Logo of The Time Travel Research Center. The Official Logo of The Time Travel Research Center

Time Travel has always been one of the most intrigueing subjects for people to talk about. It has been one of my favorite things to research and discuss since I was old enough to know what it meant. I have read many books written by Einstein, Hawking, Sagan, and others who have put their opinions on paper. I guess you could say that if I had a 'hobby', it would have to be studying/reading about Time Travel and Physics.

Time Machine.Time Machine

There may be no other concept that captures the imagination more than the idea of time travel -- the ability to travel to any point in the past or future. What could be cooler? You could jump into your time machine to go back and see major events in history and talk to the people who were there! Who would you travel back to see? Julius Caesar? Leonardo da Vinci? Elvis? You could go back and meet yourself at an earlier age, go forward and see how you look in the future... It's these possibilities that have made time travel the subject of so many science fiction books and movies.

Why time travel is possible Physicists have found the law of nature which prevents time travel paradoxes, and thereby permits time travel. It turns out to be the same law that makes sure light travels in straight lines, and which underpins the most straightforward version of quantum theory, developed half a century ago by Richard Feynman.


Wormhole.Wormhole

Relativists have been trying to come to terms with time travel for the past seven years, since Kip Thorne and his colleagues at Caltech discovered -- much to their surprise -- that there is nothing in the laws of physics (specifically, the general theory of relativity) to forbid it. Among several different ways in which the laws allow a time machine to exist, the one that has been most intensively studied mathematically is the "wormhole". This is like a tunnel through space and time, connecting different regions of the Universe -- different spaces and different times. The two "mouths" of the wormhole could be next to each other in space, but separated in time, so that it could literally be used as a time tunnel.

Building such a device would be very difficult -- it would involve manipulating black holes, each with many times the mass of our Sun. But they could conceivably occur naturally, either on this scale or on a microscopic scale.


Black Hole.Black Hole

A black hole isn't really a hole at all, but that's the easiest way to think of its effects on the rest of the universe. Take a star that's at least thirty times larger than our sun and make it explode (called a supernova). Stars do that at the end of their lifetime, sometimes leaving a remnant of the violent explosion. The nature of the remnant depends on its mass. If the remnant is less than 1.4 solar masses, it will become a white dwarf, a kind of hot dead star that isn't bright enough to visibly shine. If the remnant is roughly 1.4 solar masses, it will collapse. The protons and electrons will be squished together, and their elementary quarky particles will recombine to form neutrons. What you would get is small (by stellar terms) sphere of neutrons with perhaps a thin film of electrons and other stuff at its surface. That's why it's called a neutron star. The neutrons don't mind being near each other; but if you get them close enough to each other, they resist being pushed any closer. The neutrons of a neutron star are, indeed, pressed quite close to one another and exert a certain pressure on each other. This pressure prevents the further collapse of the neutrons star. If the remnant is larger than 3 solar masses, it becomes a black hole (well, 2 or 3 depending on who's giving you the number). It is about 30 solar masses before a star becomes a supernova.


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Chris Morton
E-mail: cdmorton@vnet.net