How to Build a Time Machine

Another article by Paul Davies in the current issue of Scientific American.

Traveling forward in time is easy enough. If hyou move chlose to the speed of light of site in a strong gravitational field,, you experience time mroe slowly than other peopel do--another way of saying that you travel into their future.

Traveling into the past is rather trickier. Relativity theory allows it in certain spacetime configurations: a rotating universe, a rotating cylinder and, most famously, a wormhole -- a tunnel through space and time.

Time dillation occurs when two observers move relative to each other. Hence the twins paradox: the space-traveler twin returns to find a much older twin back on earth. This happens on airplanes, too, but a few nanoseconds here and there are easily overlooked.

Gravity also slows time. A clock in the attic runs faster than one on the ground. The amount is trivial close to Earth but must be factored in by the GPS system.

Davies proposes a time machine constructed of a couple of wormholes. Place one next to a neutron star -- that will slow down time a bit. Go in one place, come out somewhere else in space and in time. How are we going to do this? Quantum mechanics pops up. Sounds like voodoo to me.

From Instanteous to Eternal describes measures of time from one attosecond (a billlionth of a billionth of a second) to a billion years (how long it took the surface of the earth to cool.) The smallest unit of time is the Planck time, 10 to the -43 power.

Posted by Jay Cross at September 9, 2002 12:08 AM | TrackBack

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