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Using Einstein's theory, Ben Tippett found a mathematical formula suggesting the possibility of time travel.

Retno Wulandari 02 May 2017 16:00

If you think that time travel is only a thing we see in sci-fi movies, you’ll be surprised to know that there’s actually a little gap of possibility that human could travel through the past and the future.

A researcher from the University of British Columbia (UBC) came up with a mathematical model to build a feasible time machine. Using math and physics, he invented a formula that allows time travel, at least in theory.

Mathematics and physics instructor at UBC's Okanagan campus Ben Tippett has recently published a study about the possibility of time machine in the near future. The expert in Einstein's theory of general relativity has a special interest to black holes and science fiction, and has spent many times studying it while he’s not teaching.

“People think of time travel as something as fiction,” said Tippett. “And we tend to think it's not possible because we don't actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible.”

Time travel has stolen people’s attention for many decades and the idea received more attention thanks to HG Well’s Time Machine that was published in 1885. Scientists have undergone countless researches either to prove or break the theory ever since.

Albert Einstein, who in 1915 announced the theory of general relativity, stated that the distortions in the fabrication of space and time caused gravitational fields. In Einstein's theory, the space and time is a single entity called spacetime, which was treated as a smooth fabric distorted by presence of energy.

Over 100 years later, a team of physics institutions and research groups around the world, called the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, detected a gravitational waves produced by colliding black holes, as far as billions of light-years. The phenomena confirmed Einstein’s theory.

During this time, we know that space is divided into three dimensions, and time is one of them. But Tippet said that such theory is incorrect, and suggested that the space is a four-dimentional entity that should be imagined simultaneously. Each part is connected to each other, as a space-time entity. Based on Einstein’s theory, he said that the curvy space-time contributes to planets’ curved orbits.

If the space-time is rather uncurved, planets and stars would travel in straight lines instead of curve orbits.

“The time direction of the space-time surface also shows curvature. There is evidence showing that the closer to a black hole we get, the slower time moves. My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time — to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line. That circle takes us back in time,” said Tippet, as reported by Science Daily.

Even though Tippet has found a mathematical equation suggesting the possibility of time travel, he doubted that human will go traveling the past and future anytime soon.

Since HG Wells popularized the term “time machine,” people started to play with their imaginations and thoughts of building a special box they could use to travel the time, said Tippet. But to really accomplish time travel, he admitted that we need more than just a theory or mathematical equation.

“While is it mathematically possible, it is not yet possible to build a space-time machine because we need materials —which we call exotic matter— to bend space-time in these impossible ways, but they have yet to be discovered,” he said.

Tippet discovered a mathematical model of a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (TARDIS), which he described as a geometry spacetime bubble which carries its contents through the time and space in a large circular orbit. The bubble travels through the spacetime faster that the speed of light, moving forward and backward in time.

“Studying space-time is both fascinating and problematic. And it's also a fun way to use math and physics. Experts in my field have been exploring the possibility of mathematical time machines since 1949. And my research presents a new method for doing it,” he said.

Tippet’s research has been published in the IOPscience Journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.

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