Science in Sci-Fi – Time Travel

Science fiction is as the name suggests the fiction of science. I thought it would be a fun, interesting and at times mind bending idea too look at the science behind some of the technology in science fiction and look under the hood to see what’s required to make it work or what barriers are in the way.

Science in Sci-Fi – Time Travel

Time travel is perhaps one of the most coveted of plot ideas to come out of Science Fiction and it doesn’t take much to see why, from winning your fortune by bringing back a horse racing Almanac from the past, to seeing how life is long after you’re dead there’s a great deal that can be done with stories and time travel.

How does it work

According to the theory of relativity it’s possible to travel forward in time, kind of. The way it happens is that if anyone getting on board a spacecraft that moves away from Earth at speed close to the speed of light the time on this spacecraft relative to Earth will slow down becasue of time dilation. If the people are on this spacecraft for some years or travel very close to the speed of light when they return to Earth they will not have aged as much as those left behind.

This is currently the only way we know of in theory time travelling.

However as of right now it’s not possible to travel backwards in time, although it seems that in the weird world of gravity and maths t there might be instances where time flows backwards just before 2 black holes collide. That’s a pretty implausible time machine though.

In science fiction time travel has been achieved by travelling through wormholes, time warping around the sun, quantum leaping, and using time machines to name but a few. In the weird world of science fiction this works, it’s fiction. The writer doesn’t need to embellish the details and it’s not important. The important thing is that the characters in their story travel through time.

What are the Challenges?

Right now, science can’t suggest any theoretical or feasible way to time travel. Apart from the time dilation effects from travelling close to the speed of light or from other relativistic effects from gravity it’s not possible to travel through time. Practically one of the biggest obstacles is the same as it would be for traveling close to the speed of light – energy. It would use a colossal amount of energy to create the energy required to dilate and flex time so that a person could travel through time. There’s also the little point of what this energy might do to a human, it’s not likely to be very healthy either becasue of radiation or heat – the human traveller would simply cook. Despite it complete lack of grounding in science time travel is still a nice idea.

© Simon Farnell 2013 – 2022




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29 thoughts on “Science in Sci-Fi – Time Travel

  1. This was beautifully written. I believe that Time Travel is possible, in the next dimension. It is because, like length and breath, which we can measure and travel, in the next dimension, Time might be an entity like that. For them, past, present, future might be a ladder that they can climb or descend. Anyways, this is a marvelous post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, it seems that time is a funny thing and might just be a human invention they’re still not sure. 🙂

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      1. We have only just scratched the surface, general relativity tells us about the world that you and I know and how it works – we have yet to work out how what we know relates to the atomic side of reality.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Time travels have been fascinating for people for so long. The idea is intriguing but (as many movies show) also connected to the danger of changing the present when changing something in the past. I often thought it is good that the past cannot be changed… how would we learn from it otherwise?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot of philosophical thinking around this and it’s fascinating to think about. Like you the past should be left as it is.
      Thanks for commenting Erika 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very informative. Some of my favorite time travel novels are almost like slips, folds in the fabric of time that have their own odd explanation but seem isolated. Most recently Kindred by Octavia Butler. But, of course, I’m a huge Dr. Who fan as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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