Monday, 11 February 2019

Your very own time machine in ten minutes

Theory crafting

We all watched with wonder, the pictures of Pluto from the NASA New Horizons probe. The probe was unique for lots of reasons, but perhaps one of its less well-known characteristics is that it has been propelled at such velocity as a result of the slingshot from Jupiter, that (as predicted by the theory of relativity) it is now in the future. We are in its past. So, those photos of Pluto have come to us from the future. It is not far into the future (the probe would need to get close to light speed to achieve that), but New Horizons is enough in the future so that telemetry and communications depend on observers taking the slight time shift into account.

All well and done, but what practical application does this have?

The probe is heading away from us, but let us consider two different cases:
1. Assume that the probe, at some time in the future, is retrieved and returned. While now motionless on the floor in front of us, it remains in the future. What we have in front of us is it, as it was, in the past.
2. Assume that the probe slows dramatically and makes a loop back to Earth. As it flies close to the Earth, for reasons of safety, NASA destroys it at time T in location XYZ. Note that just before destruction the probe has survived time T and left location XYZ without a problem.

Now, the probe is a pretty unique case because it has a lot of velocity packed into it, but it has also pushed it outside the parameters of the wave that determine ‘the present’ within our time frame.

When we look a little broader than ordinary physical objects, iron steel and wood, we find some subatomic particles that can be given velocity far more than the New Horizons probe. Some theorists suggest that here lies the possibility of time travel. Others suggest that instead of velocity, we might deploy the force of gravity. By such theory, some have started to design elaborate machines with injectors, linear accelerators, and black holes.

Which are all a bit outside our budget and time today.

Uncertain of the Certainty?

Before going any further, let us do a quick environment scan.

Why do we want to go into the future, anyway?

There are heaps of excellent reasons. It is fun knowing what new music is going to come out next week, who will win the tennis or what numbers are going to drop for the lottery. It sounds more than fun; it could be profitable.

But what if the future is uncertain?

What if the future we might experience never happens? Let us go back to case 2 above. There is no certainty that the future that might be observed will eventuate. The only certainty is what happens as the current time wave fixes the present into the historical, unalterable past.

So, while it might look and feel real, the future is merely a temporal probability cloud, always being capable of being collapsed or altered in the present. More than that, and one might be forgiven for thinking this a subtle point, but there is only one temporal probability cloud. One reality and one temporal probability cloud: although the probability cloud might be being stretched in all sorts of directions.

Still, there may be lots of good reasons to peak into the future, although fun and profit might no longer be primary motivations. We try to create the future and spend a lot of time designing increasingly sophisticated models of the future. Some of the models are very accurate; others are junk. Weather forecasts fall into the latter category (particularly when they are using the supercomputers to mine Bitcoins).

So you want to play with Magic?

Not fazed by uncertainty? You still want to go into the future, and you are tapping your feet and reminding me that the ten minutes is almost up and we have yet to put a single nail into the first piece of wood.

Consider the first case above. Each of us has been made from the stuff of stars: some bits incredibly old, already pre-stressed with incredible forces at the center of gravity wells or accelerated by the death throes of our old home. Through velocity or gravity, bits of us are already embedded far into the future. Bits of the temporal probability cloud are all around us.

You are already your time machine.

Ok, they did not give me a manual either, and I have never been sure what purpose the red button serves.

We all have to work it out as we go along.

No promises were broken. I merely said I would have you in your very own time machine in ten minutes.

I did not say I knew how to make it fly.


Anonymous said...

You mean I have to keep dancing in the winds?

Peter Quinton said...

Metaphorically yes, the probability cloud will always exist.
In relation to the ball room dancing event you have planned in a couple of weeks time, eventually (perhaps in fits and starts), the time wave will engulf the event, and leave you frozen on the floor forever. Perhaps not dancing as such, but a credible 3D appearance of such :)
Until then, if you find a way into the probability cloud, you might want to practice your moves or excuses for not attending on the night, or work out a way to shift the wave to suit your own wishes (some think checking out the lottery results would be a good way to use the opportunity).
How do YOU get into the probability cloud? Sleep on it :)