Absolute Time: A Causality

Vanshika Dhyani explores the nature of time travel and finds that there is nothing called absolute time and simultaneity is relative.

In 2003, an article detailing the arrest of Andrew Carlssin, (44) was printed in the Weekly World News. Andrew claimed to be a time traveller, from the year 2256. He made 126 high-risk trades and managed to win every single time, this alerted the Wall Street watchdogs. With an opening investment of just $800, he was able to earn over $350 million in two weeks’ time reported the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). He was arrested for stock fraud, and claims were made that suggested that Andrew was in possession of illegal inside information of the stock market. In a lengthy- four hour long confession with the FBI, Andrew claimed to be a time traveller from 250 years in the future. "It was just too tempting to resist," Carlssin said on camera during his confession"I had planned to make it look natural, you know, lose a little here and there so it doesn't look too perfect. But I just got caught in the moment." His claims were attributed as complete bogus and statements like "he's either a lunatic or a pathological liar.” surfaced. No records of Andrew Carlssin can be found, prior to December 2002. Adding to the suspicious tale, in April, 2003 an anonymous patron paid $1M as Carlssin’s bail, prior to his hearing. Soon after, Andrew disappeared and was never seen again. “Even a non-time traveller could have told him that profiting from 126 consecutive high-risk trades over two weeks was sure to get him noticed,” commented the Guardian.

Time travel is often deemed as an impossibility, due to logical inconsistencies. One famous discrepancy is ‘The grandfather paradox’- a rational and probable argument that would arise if a person were to travel back in time. This paradox reasons that if a person was to build a time machine and travel to the past, to kill his grandfather, before the grandfather had any children; the time traveller would have prevented the event of his own birth. Which does not hold true, logically.

When William A. Hiscock, a professor of physics at Montana State University was asked if it was possible, to travel into the distant future and whether it was possible to travel into the past, he addressed the problems and said: "Our current understanding of fundamental physics tells us that the answer to the first question is a definite yes, and to the second, maybe.”

Turns out, travelling forwards in time is-theoretically-quite easy. Einstein's theory of relativity is based on two postulates: i. Laws of physics are the same for all observers and ii.The speed of light is the same in every inertial frame of reference. If a rocket was to leave the Earth’s atmosphere at the speed of light, when it returned, they would return to Earth’s future because time would have moved faster for those on Earth than it would have for the rocket. However, it is important to remember that the mass of an object increases with an increase in its velocity. This implies that the closer the rocket gets to the speed of light, the heavier it gets. At almost the speed of light, the mass of the rocket will tend to become infinite and will become impossible to accelerate. The closer something moves to the speed of light, the slower time seems to move for the object. This phenomenon is called time dilation, and is responsible for making the clocks on the International Space Station tick slower than the clocks on Earth.

Newton’s ideas about time were borrowed from his predecessor -Isaac Barrow. He acknowledged time to be analogous to a straight line, representing past, present and future. An excerpt from Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica describes it as: “Absolute, true, and mathematical Time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external,”

While the idea of time travel never picked up momentum during the reign of classical physics, Einstein’s work inspired modern physics to toy with the idea. Today, many physicists not only entertain the possibility of time travel, but also write extensively about accomplishing such a task.

Pestered by the repetitive questions about time travel, Stephen Hawking-theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author threw a champagne party in 2009, for time travellers from the future. "You are cordially invited to a reception for time travelers hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking," read the invitation printed in October 2013. "To be held in the past, at the University of Cambridge Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge." He also included the exact coordinates of the location so that it would become easier for the time travellers to locate the position with precision, in space and time. “I’m hoping copies of it in one form or another will survive for many thousands of years. maybe one day someone living in the future will find the information and use a wormhole time machine to come back to my party, proving that time travel will, one day, be possible” said Stephen Hawking about the party he threw, a decade ago. Time travellers were also invited to his memorial service, on March 31st, 2018. "We cannot exclude the possibility of time travel as it has not been disproven to our satisfaction," a representative of the Stephen Hawking Foundation told the BBC service.

Researchers are always coming up with new theories that find a way around the paradoxes-such as breaking the speed of light barrier. While time travel may fascinate the experts and the general population, alike; scientific and experimental work in the field is still sparse. "If one made a research grant application to work on time travel it would be dismissed immediately," wrote Stephen Hawking in his latest book' ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’. The question remains: Is it impossible to time travel? Or does someone in the future hold a Nobel Prize for its discovery? The only way to know is to travel forward in time- second by second.