October 18, 2006

Time Machine!

Moving back and forth in time is something that man has wanted to do for a long time now. But, for all his knowledge and experience, man has not been able to come anywhere near achieving that goal. But knowing man, he won’t stop till he either gets there or ends up destroying the universe, trying.

What is this human fascination with time travel? Why does Man even want to go back into the past or see what the future holds? The answer is not difficult to find. First, Man has a tendency to make mistakes and he realizes the gravity of his mistakes after making them. So, naturally, he wishes to go back in time and undo the mistake and be free of blame and get rid of any unpleasant consequences of his mistakes. Second, Man is eternally curious; always wanting to know more, and many a times this proves to be his failing. This curiosity about knowing the future has given birth to many fields like astrology, tarot card reading, and palmistry etc. etc. Even the most reasonable and sound headed of men fall prey to some of these fields.

Time is a strange thing though. Its always there, always moving, and only in one direction. It is as much real as it is apparent. It can seem to pass swiftly or it can come to a standstill, but actually it is always moving with a steady, unrelenting speed. No one can afford to ignore it. Not the physicist who needs to track time to make every observation and measurement, not the musician who needs to keep time, to make melodious music.

Now for some reason Einstein thought that the speed of light was the fastest speed that could be attained, and time was linked to speed of light. This makes for a slightly complex topic but in the simplest terms and as I see it, when a thing happens, there is a lag between the actual thing happening and the viewer “seeing” it happening. This lag is equal to the time taken by light to move from the event to the viewer’s eye. Since speed of light is fast, very fast, this lag is negligible for anything happening anywhere in this world. But an example often quoted is that some of the stars that we see now might not exist anymore, for the light from them that we see now, emanated from them many many years ago. Here it is to be mentioned that the speed of light, thought to be constant, is actually not constant but reducing with the passage of time. Does this mean that one second now is more than one second many centuries ago? It does, only the length of time increase is very negligible and unnoticeable.

In very crude terms a time machine would be something that captures the light from this time and lets it out at some other place and time of our choosing. And going by this logic, we actually have our time machine: a recorded movie. It takes you in the past, shows you something that happened in the past and when you were not there. As for the future, let us hope and pray that there is no predestined future and that future is what we make of it. Otherwise, we would be merely playing a role in a movie the script for which is already written.

At this level, the realms of religion and science begin to merge. The origins of both are the same: an attempt to understand the world around us and to simplify living, but then they choose different routes to reach their destination, which is same. More on this in a later post.


Noi Rocker said...

Wow great post and great thoughts! Hmm I dont think time travelling is ever going to be possible. It will be like cheating death. But i think the main reason why we are so fascinated with time travelling is that we always look back and think that we could have done something better or change something in the past to create a better future.

Imagine if that is the case, everyone will not appreciate time rite? Since we can correct our mistakes by going into a machine.

Anonymous said...

What you're saying doesn't have any grounding in physics. Einstein didn't just 'think' the speed of light was constant, he proved it. Furthermore, the theory of relativity doesn't have anything to do with time lags, it has to do with the speed at which an object is travelling. Maintaining a constant speed of light while travelling at high speeds means your time will be passing slower relative to others. Not because time ever slows down or speeds up, but because it's always the same rate relative to where you are. Furthermore, you can't travel through time using light. You can travel far into the future by travelling at near the speed of light. The only force in the universe that can warp the 4th dimension enough for a 'time machine' is gravity. You would have to figure out a way bend time back on it's self by manipulating gravitons. Even then, according to quantum mechanics you'd likely end up in a parallel universe that would be nothing like our own timeline.

Anonymous said...

Hello, dear fellows. I was reading this blog while drinking a cup of Indonesian tea and I must say that I quite loved it.

Seriously, this sucks. I'm outta here.

Bluepanther said...

@ noirocker: True, and time is something that we must repsect, now and forever.

@ anonymous: NO, what I am saying is not all grounded in Physics.But the speed of light is reducing over a period of time is a fact.

@heavenrose : loved the tea or the blog???

stev said...

hmm. i believe i get your line of thinking.

and agreed that humans sure are curious cats.

time is simply time
speed is simply speed

maybe things arent really so complicated after all...

Johnny Wadd said...

I don't think time travel will ever be possible. BUT if it did, that could easily be the most dangerous weapon ever conceived.

Bluepanther said...

@ stev: Things really were simple, until we humans showed up to complicate matters.

@ Johnny Wadd: It surely would be the most dangerous weapon ever conceived.

Claude said...

Personally I think that if anybody's going to go back in time, they've already done it. So whatever now is, already is. If that makes sense (sometimes it's tough to deal with these verb tenses when it comes to time travel).

Ponder this, however: everything--everything that we perceive is something that's already happened because of the necessary delay. Something can happen right in front of your face and it's already in the past, because the light had to reach your eye, the signal had to pass through your eye and get processed by your brain. Touch an object and by the time you realize that you're touching it, the moment of contact is already a past event.

Reality is truly a shared illusion.

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