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Dec 15, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

How could time travel be physically possible?

Albert Einstein’s work on the concept of relativity shows that a phenomenon called worm holes can be created, which would enable time-travel into the past. The possibility of going back in time is not a new one – it simply requires a type of particle that has simply never been observed yet in our universe.

What if time travel – and in particular the exploration of the past – were no longer part of science fiction and actually nearing reality? We are certainly not about to take a leap into the great unknown any time soon, but certain spatial and temporal properties revealed by Albert Einstein in his theory of relativity make the overall concept a little more concrete.


Travel through space via a worm hole


Astrophysician Ethan Siegel explained to Forbes magazine that infinite quantum fluctuations in opposing directions occur in the space-time continuum. If these changes in positive and negative energy were to increase in size, they would create totally opposing curves in space.

If these curved zones were to come together, this would create a quantum worm hole which, if it lasted long enough, could be crossed by matter. This would be an incredible journey as the matter would vanish from one place in space and reappear in another.


When time depends on the importance of displacement


That, however, is a question of space and not time – and this is where the contraction and dilation of time come into the equation. When moving at close to the speed of light, the greater the distance, the less time ticks by for the traveller.

The passing of time depends on the size of the displacements in space – a phenomenon on which certain works of science fiction are based, in which passengers in space ships set off to explore the galaxy during a period which for them is only a couple of years, but upon their return to Earth, they find out that decades have gone by.


Enter into the present in order to emerge in the past


What happens with a worm hole is actually the opposite, since one of its entries would remain virtually immobile, like the people left back on Earth in the science fiction stories. But whatever arrives at the other end of the worm hole will actually have undergone a very long journey. Time will not have passed at the same speed for two people at either extremity, since they are not evolving in time and space in the same way. This means that if you were to enter a worm hole created 40 years ago by the edge which had undergone a major displacement, you would come out shortly after the creation of the passage – namely in the past.

For a worm hole of this kind to be established, it would require particles with a negative energy and mass to act against all known elements in our universe, which are either positive or neutral. No particle of this type has been discovered to this day. Budding time-travellers should not despair however – the principles of physics mean that the existence of bodies of this kind are very much a possibility.



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