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



Published by Simon

My name is Simon I'm an engineer, creator, free thinker and occasionally writer. For far too long I had ideas and nowhere to put them for the world to see, that's why Planet Simon was created. I'm an experimenter, explorer and fascinated by the world around me and the people in it. My exploration goes further than the known universe and expands out to universe's I've created in my mind and put onto the creative canvas. I'm not the person I used to be and over time I have evolved and the blog is evolving with me. Whatever this blog is in the future it's a place where all are welcome and ideas can roam free to find their magical place in the universe. I'm an experimenter, explorer and fascinated by the world around me and the people in it. My exploration goes further than the known universe and expands out to universe's I've created in my mind and put onto the creative canvas.

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

  1. Only when I came across The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli did I learn there is a difference in our measurement of time between the time at the top and the bottom of a mountain. I’ll have to get back to that book.

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  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?

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    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.

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