Wrapped Notion? the Idea of Time Travel Is 100 Years Old, but Many Still Wonder about Its Possibilities

By Bill Smith Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 29, 1995 | Go to article overview

Wrapped Notion? the Idea of Time Travel Is 100 Years Old, but Many Still Wonder about Its Possibilities


Bill Smith Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


"I drew a breath, set my teeth, grabbed the starting lever with both hands and went off with a thud. . . . The night came like the turning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. . . ."

From H.G. Wells' 1895 science fiction novel, "The Time Machine" -

A CENTURY LATER, we still wonder. Is it possible? Will the day ever come when we are able to slip back and forth in time as effortlessly as we slip into and out of the family car.

Imagine:

One instant, we are at Le Bourget airport outside Paris on May 21, 1927, as the Spirit of St. Louis drops out of the sky.

The next, we are hundreds of years into the future as humankind discovers the cure for cancer.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine," a smallish, simply written book that forever changed the way we look at time.

Almost overnight, it seemed, science fiction writers and dreamers were given a wonderful, if strange, new frontier, beyond the realms of land, oceans and even space.

A time machine. Still, at least for now, only fantasy.

But the question still begs. What of reality?

Inside a small, third-floor office in Compton Hall on the Washington University campus, New Zealand native Matt Visser has spent part of the last five years trying to determine whether time travel is theoretically possible.

Specifically, he's been studying the so-called "wormhole," a hypothetical shortcut that connects two distant points in the universe. Wormholes, popularized by the TV series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," conceivably could allow people to travel hundreds of light years in a matter of moments.

The idea of using wormholes for time travel was first raised in 1988 by Michael Morris and Kip Thorne, physicists at the California Institute of Technology. If a wormhole could be discovered somewhere in space or if one could somehow be created - and there is no solid proof that such a thing is even possible - it would seem like a simple next step to use the wormhole as a corridor to step back in time, back into the past.

Visser, Thorne and Morris are not concerned with the practicality of using a wormhole for time travel, simply whether it is theoretically possible under the laws of physics as we know them.

Visser says the theoretical question of traveling into the future was solved by Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity. Now, scientists agree that not only is travel into the future possible, it may well happen if man one day can build ships capable of carrying him out into the heavens at close to the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

Essentially, scientists have proven that if a rocket ship or some other device could carry a person close to the speed of light, then that person could travel out into space and return to an Earth that is thousands or even millions of years older than the Earth he left.

The closer to the speed of light an object moves, the slower time becomes for that object, at least compared to time on Earth. If somehow, a space traveler could attain the speed of light (something that most scientists feel is not possible), time would stop completely as the years continued to tick away on Earth.

Scientists also say that travel into the future could be attained by slowing time for the traveler in another way. In an intense gravitational field - such as the kind that might exist close to the boundaries of a black hole - time once again would slow dramatically in relation to Earth time and travelers (if they found a way to survive without their ship being crushed) could return to an Earth far into the future.

Thus, Visser says, the story of the Time Traveller in "The Time Machine" almost becomes believable.

The big problem, Visser says, is not so much getting to the future - at least according to the laws of physics - but getting back. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Wrapped Notion? the Idea of Time Travel Is 100 Years Old, but Many Still Wonder about Its Possibilities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.