Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with you.
Along the lines of sci-fi, I’m going to be talking about something I find really interesting yet mind boggling. Time travel.
“The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
We are currently travelling slower than the speed of light, as humans, and also moving forward into the future. Theoretically, if you were to travel at the speed of light (ignore the fact that collisions of atoms would cause a burst of gamma rays yada yada yada) everything would be ‘frozen’ around you because you are moving at the same speed as the speed you can see things so basically, you’re literally living in the present…but for a really long time. With all this in mind, if you were to, theoretically, travel faster than the speed of light, wouldn’t you be moving back in time.
Slower than speed of light = moving forward into the future
Speed of light = frozen in time
Faster than speed of light = moving backwards into the past?
To support this, at night, there are stars. (No shit, Sherlock). But some of those stars are already dead yet we can still see them. That’s because the light that star emitted is still travelling towards us, even at the amazing speed of light (299,792,458 m/s) so we’re basically seeing something that existed in the past. The sunlight that hit us from the sun is actually 8 minutes and 20 seconds old so we’re seeing something that was emitted several minutes in the past.
If we were to travel 65 million light years away from Earth (and if we had an extraordinary mega telescope) we could see the dinosaurs that existed on our planet.
Another question that boggles my mind is whether time is fixed or flexible.
In the film Déjà Vu, the main character goes back in time to try to change the course of the timeline to prevent something bad from happening. However, by trying to prevent it from happening, he actually causes the events that happened in the lead up to the bad things. As an example, the main character, who is an agent, goes to the house of a victim to murder. A group of forensic scientists tell him that he was reckless and put his fingerprints everywhere when he was searching around the house, even though he definitely put gloves on. The reason to this is because he travelled back into the past, later on in the film, and went to the girl’s house before she had even died.
Even though it’s a film, this could be a potential theory on the flexibility of time.
Another very similar question is whether time is linear or cyclic/non-linear…which was also touched on in that fingerprint scenario in Déjà Vu.
Does the past strictly affect only the future or can the future affect the past too?
I found this extract from Big Picture Questions, which basically explains it better than I could:
Tom Minderle explained that linear time means moving from the past into the future in a straight line, like dominoes knocking over dominoes. There is a sequence that moves in one direction. Humans think we can’t change the past or visit it, because we live according to linear time.
Nonlinear time works like this: “Imagine if you could slow down time. Or time travel to the past. Or position yourself above the line and view the past, present, and future simultaneously.” He explained:
- It isn’t just one line, but a whole web of lines, all interconnected and branching with different pasts leading to different presents and different futures.
- You can choose which alternate present to enter into. The future and past are not different than the left and right end of a table, which exist simultaneously. But whichever end you look at is the end you see.
The most widely accepted idea is that time is linear. But that could just be our minds way of condensing information and the complexity of the concept of time.
What do you think?