Key Takeaways:

  1. Physicists from the University of Queensland propose that time travel is “mathematically possible” without paradoxes, addressing the famous ‘grandfather paradox.’
  2. Germain Tobar’s work suggests that space-time can adapt to avoid paradoxes, allowing for the possibility of time travel with free will.
  3. The study explores deterministic processes in the space-time continuum, showing how closed time-like curves align with classical physics and free will.
  4. Even though the calculations support the feasibility of time travel, the practical application of bending space and time remains elusive with current scientific knowledge.
  5. The research challenges the notion of paradoxes in time travel, indicating that events would adjust themselves to prevent inconsistencies.

The concept of time travel, a staple in science fiction, has intrigued humanity for centuries. While no one has yet stepped into a time machine, physicists from the University of Queensland propose that it might be “mathematically possible” without encountering the notorious paradoxes that have long perplexed scientists and philosophers.

The crux of the matter revolves around the famous ‘grandfather paradox,’ which questions the feasibility of time travel. If one were to go back in time and alter a crucial event, like preventing their parents from meeting, it raises the dilemma of how the time traveler could exist in the first place to make such changes. Germain Tobar, a physics student at the University of Queensland, delved into this head-scratcher and found a way to “square the numbers” to make time travel theoretically viable.

Classical dynamics, which posits that knowing the state of a system at a particular time can reveal its entire history, clashes with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The latter predicts the existence of time loops or time travel, challenging the conventional understanding of dynamics. Tobar’s calculations suggest that space-time could adapt itself to avoid paradoxes, potentially resolving the grandfather paradox and allowing for consistent time travel.

To illustrate this, consider a time traveler attempting to prevent the spread of a disease in the past. Tobar’s work implies that, even if successful, the disease might find another route or method to escape, thus preventing the creation of a paradox. In this model, time travelers would have the freedom to act without causing paradoxes, as the events adjust themselves to maintain consistency.

While Tobar’s mathematical groundwork supports the possibility of time travel, practical implementation remains a considerable challenge. Existing time machine concepts exist primarily as calculations on paper, and scientists have not yet devised a method to bend space and time effectively.

Supervising the research, physicist Fabio Costa emphasizes the significance of the findings, stating that “the maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction.” The research explores deterministic processes in the space-time continuum, demonstrating how closed time-like curves, as predicted by Einstein, align with classical physics and free will.

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Fabio Costa (left) and Germain Tobar (right). (Ho Vu)

The implications of this research challenge the traditional view of time travel paradoxes. According to Costa, “Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves to avoid any inconsistency.” This suggests that time travel with free will is logically possible in our Universe, ushering in a new perspective on the theoretical feasibility of journeying through time.

The study, led by Tobar, has been published in Classical and Quantum Gravity, offering a novel mathematical foundation for understanding the intricacies of time travel without succumbing to logical paradoxes. While the practical realization of time travel remains uncertain, these findings open new avenues for exploring the boundaries of physics and the nature of time itself.

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