The Trouble with Time Travel

23 August 2007 · 90 comments

And now it’s time for another Geek Thoughts.

Here’s why I think all Earth-bound attempts at time travel are doomed to failure: Unless the time travel also involves some sort of spatial component, the time traveler is going to reappear in empty space. The Earth is in motion. The solar system is in motion. The galaxy is in motion. The universe is in motion.

By the time you finish reading this sentence, the Earth will have moved far beyond where it was located at the beginning of the sentence. If you were to travel back in time (or forward in time) just one minute, what is it that would keep you tethered to the Earth as opposed to some absolute location in the universal scheme of things, an absolute location essentially in empty space? (Or, at the very least, in the middle of an ocean.)

I’m not saying that time travel is impossible — though I believe that’s likely the case — I’m just saying that time travel is impractical, and isn’t likely to produce anything other than a bunch of space flotsam.

Teleportation, on the other hand, might be practical. If it’s instantaneous.

1 Paul J. August 23, 2007 at 09:00

Or, you need to redefine your concept of time travel a bit.

http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Time-Travel-Mind-Defeat/dp/083560828X

“Free your mind”…

2 Dave August 23, 2007 at 17:09

Somehow I think that if we could figure out how to move along the time-stream we could probably also figure out the spacial coordinate problem that you’re referring to, thereby ensuring that we arrive not only WHEN we wanted to, but WHERE.

On the other hand, this also depends on how you define time. If time is defined as the occurrence of specific events (or even the lack of said occurrence), then such a thing might be inherently linked to a specific locale as well. In other words, referencing something in the fourth dimension of space/time cannot be done without simultaneously referencing the other three dimensions, just like you can’t reference the third dimension of space without inherently referencing the other two.

3 D August 23, 2007 at 17:41

The motion part is true, but you assume going back or forward in time will maintain your spatial location.

I think that time and space are interlocked, so if you are on Earth and go back 1,000 years, you are also going back spatially 1,000 years.

When you change your spatial parameters time changes along with it. The same would be true visa-versa.

4 Jon August 24, 2007 at 06:03

Just bring your space ship along when you time travel.

5 Karl Staib August 24, 2007 at 19:23

If you travel back in time wouldn’t you travel to where the planets were at that time?

6 Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker August 25, 2007 at 17:17

Interesting concept. We will just have to wait and see if it is plausible. Thanks for making me think.

7 Mom August 26, 2007 at 12:37

Very well thought out, J.D. I personally don’t see how either time travel or teleportation are possible. But we are reaping the rewards these days of many inventions that were once deemed impossible, so I may be wrong on that, although I doubt it. ;-)

I am writing also to invite you to my blog, for a special reason, which you will see when you get there.

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9 Wesley Crusher August 27, 2007 at 07:28

JD’s thoughts on time travel are only applicable when there is a rift in the space/time continuum.

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