In science fiction people have managed to travel through time in starships, DeLoreans, hot tubs and duffel bags among many other things. It’s just that easy. In real life, science can’t even decide if time travel is even theoretically possible, although a lot of prominent names lean towards it being impossible. But hey, what are humans if not impossible dreamers? Even without the technology or even the scientific know-how, we’ve brushed up against the idea of time travel more than you might think.
10. Stephen Hawking Held a Party for Time Travelers
You could make a good argument that Stephen Hawking was the most brilliant scientist of the modern age, and certainly the most well known of the last thirty or so years. He’d been compared to Albert Einstein more times than you can imagine and became one of the rare scientists who’s so good at what they do that it gives them celebrity status.
Hawking, whose area of expertise was physics, was not on board with the idea of time travel. But being a scientist he wasn’t close minded to the idea of it so he even planned a way to prove or disprove the idea of it. He held a party for time travelers.
Being a scientist there has to be a scientific twist to this idea and, of course, Hawking thought of one. He only advertised the party the day after it happened. That way the only people who could attend would have to go back in time to do so. You may be surprised to learn no one attended his party.
Hawking was long known for having a good sense of humor and the event was clearly a bit of a joke, but it does play off of one of the most prominent arguments against time travel that exists – if time travel is real, why haven’t we met anyone from the future yet?
9. Astrophysicist Ronald Mallett Thinks He Cracked Time Travel
Although many scientists are of a mind that the idea of time travel is a frivolous thing best left in the realm of fiction, not all of them feel that one. Ronald Mallett has devoted his life to figuring out time travel.
Mallet’s father died when he was just 10 years old. He attributes his life-long love of science and learning to the man and in part that’s what inspired his dedication to solving the riddle of time travel. He wants to see his father again.
According to Mallet he has worked out the equations for making time travel possible. He’s been working on it for sixty years, too. He believes he has worked out a way to bend space time with lasers that follows Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity but there is a significant problem with his work. If it does produce results he believes it would only work from the moment his machine was turned on. Which means that would be the zero point and no one could ever travel further back in time than that, so his dream of seeing his father could never come true.
Still, the potential to change the world exists if people of the future could send information back to the present. But there’s another snag as well. Mallet says the energy required to operate the machine would be “galactic.”
8. There’s A Theory That A Time Traveling Bird Shut Down the Large Hadron Collider
Few things get social media as riled up as the Large Hadron Collider. Go search for stories about it ending the world and you’ll find enough to keep you busy for a few days. People thought it would open a black hole or a portal to another dimension or hell itself. And while all of that sounds silly, it is true that in 2009 there were so many problems with the collider that it had to be shut down. And that got people wondering what might have happened. And in a world where people already think the machine can open a gateway to hell, it’s not hard to imagine that there were some outlandish theories about why it shut down.
One of the more interesting theories was that time travel shut the machine down, or more specifically a sort of chain reaction of future particles coming back in time. But a more involved theory suggests there’s more to it.
The reason the particle accelerator was shut down was thanks to it overheating. It didn’t overheat by chance, though. There was a piece of baguette in it. So how does a chunk of bread get in a giant particle accelerator? Some have guessed a bird dropped it on the way by. But others suggested it was no ordinary bird. Perhaps it was a bird strategically sent from the future to that exact place and time so it could drop the bread and shut the accelerator down.
As goofy as it sounds, more than one scientist has proposed, at least somewhat seriously, that the LHC is so potentially dangerous time, the universe, or the people of tomorrow have devised ways to stop it from working.
7. Scientists Determined Time Travelers Probably Aren’t on Social Media
If someone from the future existed in the world right now, where would you look for them? If you think social media is the answer, think again. Scientists have already spent a while trying to find them on Facebook, Twitter and other sites and have turned up nothing.
Physicists from Michigan Technological University tried to hunt for evidence of time travelers back in 2013 and came up empty-handed. Their searches included looking for any signs of posts or communications that indicated a person had knowledge of future events, the sorts of things a person from the present should never know.
They admitted that finding nothing didn’t prove time travelers don’t exist, after all, people from the future may not be using Facebook or Twitter. Also, if someone were time traveling for a serious reason, there’s a good chance they aren’t stopping to doomscroll Twitter.
6. A Man Claiming to Be From 2030 Allegedly Passed a Lie Detector Test
Now sure, we’ve just looked at a couple of cases where the evidence suggests there are no time travelers, but maybe they just weren’t looking hard enough. Sometimes people show up in the world claiming to be honest to goodness time travelers and they end up in the news.
In 2018, a man claiming to be from 2030 made some headlines when he allegedly passed some line detector tests that proved the veracity of his claims. Now, years later, we can look back and suggest maybe he wasn’t really from the future at all since he claimed Donald Trump would serve a second term. Other less specific predictions included self-driving cars becoming very popular, as well as virtual reality. No one uses Instagram in the future, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter will become President when she’s 21.
5. China Had to Deny It Was Building a Time Machine
While most people are looking to prove if not at least investigate time travel, one lab in China was forced to take the opposite approach and deny they had anything to do with it. In 2021, the largest state-backed particle physics lab in the country got caught up in a rumor that they were helping a private firm build a time machine.
The private company, called Ruitai, claimed a third organization made up a PowerPoint that linked them to the particle physics lab and it’s not clear if they were attempting to build a time machine and were just mistakenly linked to the government lab or if the entire story was made up.
The leaked PowerPoint name dropped a Nobel Laureate as being on board with the project, and he wasn’t even a real person. As for Ruitai, the company had only existed for a few months at the time the story was leaked, so it’s hard to say what was going on but rest assured, there’s no time machine in China. They swear.
4. An Iranian Scientist Claimed He Invented a Machine to Predict The Future
Is seeing the future the same as time travel? Maybe it’s cheating a little, but an Iranian scientist claimed he invented a machine that could do just that. Using what was described as “complex algorithms” the machine was allegedly able to predict a person’s future with 98% accuracy.
Known as the Aryayek Time Traveling Machine, it would print out a report on your life five to eight years in the future. The inventor was the managing director of Iran’s Center for Strategic Invention and his sort of time machine was one of 179 other inventions he’d registered there. Of course, at the same time this story broke, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Science, Research, and Technology basically dismissed it as being stupid.
3. Researchers Believe Parallel Timelines Make Paradox Free Time Travel Possible
A big issue with time travel comes in the form of a time paradox. Say you go back in time to before you were born and kill your own dad. How, then, can you be born to grow up and go back in time? Well, some enterprising minds have argued that the math still works out for paradox-free time travel. The answer, as Dr. Strange might tell you, lies in parallel timelines or dimensions.
According to one physicist, space time can be shown to mathematically adjust around paradoxes. One example given was that of a disease. You go back in time to stop Covid-19. If you succeed, Covid-19 doesn’t happen and future you doesn’t need to go back in time. Therefore, you’re either creating a new timeline or the universe prevents you from succeeding and Covid-19 spreads regardless of whatever you did. Either way, time keeps going the way it’s supposed to. And, according to physicists, these are all possible, at least on paper.
2. Mental Time Travel
Sometimes science plays a little fast and loose with the definition of time travel, as is the case with mental time travel. Research has shown that a human mind has an internal flow of time independent from external time. Thus we can mentally time travel in our own heads, back through memories and into the future.
Electrodes in the brains of epileptics were studied and showed that brain cells associated with time would fire on their own independent of external stimuli indicating that human episodic memory of how things happen and when exists along a sort of internal timeline.
This ability to be aware of the past and also the future has been dubbed chronesthesia,
1. Sergei Krikalev Has Traveled Through Time
It would be anti-climactic to cover time travel and dash your hopes that it’s real at every turn so why not focus for a moment on the only real life time traveler in the world? Sergei Krikalev has, according to everything we currently understand about science, traveled through time.
Krikalev is a Russian cosmonaut, and he has spent a lot of time in space. In fact, he’s spent over 800 days in orbit. And because of how Einstein’s Theory of Relativity works, he’s traveled not just space but time itself.
If you’re a sci-fi fan, you may be aware that, the closer you get to the speed of light, the slower time goes. It’s called time dilation, and it means that the faster your travel through space, the less time passes for you overall. People here on earth could age 50 years and only a fraction of that will pass for you, depending on your speed. In theory, if you reached the speed of light, time would stop. And then, also in theory, if you somehow went faster than light you’d go back in time. But that’s not relevant to Krikalev’s story.
Astronauts in orbit move at a speed of around five miles per second. That’s 18,000 miles per hour. That’s nothing compared to the speed of light, but it’s faster than anything on Earth. And because Krikalev spent 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes in space, he actually traveled forward in time. Admittedly, he’s only 0.02 seconds in the future, but it’s more than the rest of us can say.