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SmashTheState's avatar

When time travel becomes available, will you use it?

Asked by SmashTheState (14245points) April 17th, 2015

There are mathematical proofs for the feasibility of time travel, and we even know how to accomplish it: bend light in a circle. Time and space are different ways of expressing the same phenomenon, so bending space bends time, and vice versa. Generate a strong enough magnetic field to trap light and you’ve got a time machine. (Of course, this time machine will only allow you to travel along the length of its light cone, meaning you can’t travel to any point before the machine was switched on.)

Time travel doesn’t violate any known laws… so long as you never re-enter the same frame of time. That is, when you “travel in time,” what you’re really doing is generating an entirely new Universe which is exactly like the previous one, except that you’re occupying a different quantum slice of space/time. In the Universe you used to inhabit, you simply disappear forever.

That means every time you use a time travel machine, you will leave everyone and everything behind forever. You can never return to that Universe. Everyone you know – your friends, your family, your loved ones – will be gone forever. There will be new versions of all those people, but they will not be the same ones you left behind. They will seem exactly the same, but you’ll always know that the ones you used to know are still in some other Universe waiting for you to return.

Would you do it? Would you leave your whole Universe behind to discover what the future has to offer?

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31 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

Sounds like a chance to re-live my life. I may take the chance. Maybe I can undo my mistakes, change my relationship with the people I know… Who knows, maybe I can be a better person?

SmashTheState's avatar

@Mimishu1995 You can’t time travel to a point before the machine was switched on. If we build a time travel device tomorrow, tomorrow becomes the earliest point to which anyone will ever be able to travel. (Indeed, some scientists have expressed concerns that the instant it’s turned on, an unstoppable avalanche of travellers, technology, and messages from the future may begin arriving.) This is really a question about whether you’d feel comfortable abandoning your Universe of birth for a new Universe which seems exactly the same.

Stinley's avatar

Put like that, I would have to say no. I have my children and would never leave them behind. If I had no ties to this universe then perhaps. Or if I was trying to escape from a crime I committed.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Stinley The Universe in which you arrive is exactly the same as the one you left. A new version of your family would be waiting for you. Likewise, the police would be waiting for you. Everything would seem identical. Only you would know that it’s not the same Universe you came from.

Stinley's avatar

So where you go is not different to where you have come from, only the original place will notice a difference. All I would have achieved is leaving a space in my birth Universe. It seems like a pointless thing to do then. Unless I hated everyone and wanted to punish them though my absence. How does the time travel bit work? Can I arrive at a different point in time? Prevent myself from committing that crime?

Uasal's avatar

The only real use I would have for a time machine would be to drop myself off in a time long before such things were a consideration.

So, with that being precluded by this question, probably not.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have been reading about time travel for 50+ years in science fiction, and it doesn’t seem to be any more ‘real’ today than it did in the Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov books I read back then.

If the original poster’s facts are true, then we may be a little closer than we were before. But the rule (you can’t go back to where you came from) seems to be to be a real problem. The value of time travel (to me) is to learn about and experience a different time/space and then go back ‘home’ and apply and use that knowledge. So to travel on what is basically a one-way-time-journey doesn’t have much appeal.

But I’m afraid that time travel, if it ever can exist, is hundreds of years in our future. I’m going to be a real skeptic on this until it’s demonstrable.

Sort of like teleportation. Great for sci-fi… not really doable.

Uasal's avatar

Worse than that its only being allowed a one way trip forward. Who wants to see the world in a * further* state of decay? Can I go be a caveman now please?

Mimishu1995's avatar

@SmashTheState Yeah I know that. Maybe in that universe people don’t know me. Like I have to build my relationship from scratch. So isn’t that a good idea to be a different person in that universe to the one I am now?

SmashTheState's avatar

@elbanditoroso Time travel is simple. The math has been straightforward since Einstein. The problem is that the amount of energy required to generate an electromagnetic field sufficient to bend light in a circle is on the order of a star’s output. You have stop thinking of time and space as two different things. They’re not. Space is simply a different way of expressing time.

zenvelo's avatar

Nope. Time travel is done all the time as it is, people live in their past or in what may be their future, and it causes nothing but stress, anxiety, worry, regret.

Be here now.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Stinley When you switch your time machine on, what happens is you’re actually bending space into a spiral. You generate an electromagnetic field and bend your light in on itself. If you’re sitting inside when this happens, you can physically travel down the light cone to any point between when the machine was switched on to the point where it’s switched off. When you step out, it would ordinarily violate a ridiculous number of physical laws, but the math – which I don’t understand – shows that as long as it’s not the same Universe, there are no violations. By stepping into the time machine, you start generating new Universes which are identical to the one you just left, except that in Universe A you are no longer present and in Universe B you are. They begin diverging at that point.

Bill1939's avatar

Pretending that I could start over and alter my journey through life, it is likely that I would not met people whose lives I have helped and who have helped me. My mistakes made it possible to reach the level of compassion and consciousness that make me the person that I am.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think it’ll ever happen, but even if it did, it would only be available to the 1%. The way non-rich are treated now, you really think there going to give us freedom like that? We can’t even buy seafood with food stamps anymore lol.

ucme's avatar

Nah, fuck that shit, stop the world I wanna get off.

janbb's avatar

Great question! I’m presently teaching a course on time travel novels and looked at a book discussing physicists hypotheses’ on the feasibility of time travel. I would be very interested in traveling back in time if I could be a fly on the wall in Jane Austen’s or Dickens’s households or a librarian in Alexandria, for example. Not sure if I want to travel into the future. H.G. Wells’s Time Traveler did that and it was pretty dismal. A dying sun over an arid beach with giant crablike creatures. No thanks! (Ok – maybe just a quick peek to see how my grandson’s lives turn out.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just to go back and visit. I wouldn’t change anything.

fluthernutter's avatar

I’m assuming you’d have to disassemble and reassemble said traveler at a molecular level (or smaller). That’s too much of a gamble for me.

flutherother's avatar

I’ll pass. I wouldn’t want to leave everyone behind even if I met versions of them in another Universe it wouldn’t be the same. Also if I met another version of myself it could prove awkward. No Universe is big enough for two of me.

Blondesjon's avatar

I don’t really see the need to, based on what you have outlined, until I find it necessary to replace my liver in a simple and technologically advanced manner. I will then proceed to time travel with much gusto.

josie's avatar

Time is nothing more than the acknowledgement that matter is in motion, by one rule or another, and thus the metaphysical universe is slightly different from one moment to the next.

There here is no concrete thing that we can recover, called “The Past”.

Time can not be recovered like tombs in ancient Egypt. Certainly something happened in what we called “The Past” but it is gone forever an instant after it happened.

Thus, Time Travel is a hopeful myth that people who hate “The Present” cling to in order to justify their contemporary misery.

talljasperman's avatar

Time travel plus immortality. = hell.

Afos22's avatar

Time travel to the future is possible, in that you could arrive at a future date, having experienced less time than other people. One would just need to move at an incredible velocity for some time. If I would need to Travel on a journey of great speed for say, 5 years just to come back 10 years in the future, I don’t think it would be worth it. It would be a waste of time. Pun intended

gorillapaws's avatar

Time travel is only fun if you get to use your superior knowledge of science/technology to become the leader of a people and take all of the hot women as your wives. It sounds like that isn’t possible, so I’m not interested.

cheebdragon's avatar

Does this time machine look like a phone booth or a DeLorean?

Strauss's avatar

Time travel does exist! We are now experiencing what was the future only a moment ago.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Still don’t have my flying car…

Stinley's avatar

@gorillapaws or my jetpack…

GracieT's avatar

@gorillapaws, can I have one too?

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