In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly travels to October 21st 2015. However, the future he visited looks quite different from our reality.
Whilst we’re still waiting for those hover boards, and our cars remain firmly on the ground, two Australian physicists have told the White House that time travel will actually be achieved.
At a summit held today, Professor Tim Ralph and PhD student Martin Ringbauer from the University of Queensland addressed the White House Office of Science and Technology. Incredibly, the pair confirmed that humans will one day travel through time.
“Time travel is definitely possible in relativity theory, in terms of going forward in time,” Professor Ralph said whilst addressing the summit.
Interestingly though, Professor Ralph claims visiting the future will be more feasible than returning to the past.
“There’s no big problem travelling to the future, it’s hard to do but in principle it can happen.”
Ralph and Ringbauer have previously simulated time travel by examining how streams of light (called photons) interact. They married these observations with Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum physics.
“In the first case, photon one ‘travels’ through a wormhole into the past, then interacts with its older version. And in the second case, photon two travels through normal space-time, but interacts with another photon that is trapped inside a closed timelike curve forever,” Mr Ringbauer explained.
The White House certainly seems convinced that such “mind-bending” concepts could shape the world we live in, moving forward.
“You might wonder why the White House is paying attention to a science fiction movie, but actually there’s a really serious reason to do that,” said spokesperson Tom Kalil, when discussing Back to the Future.
“A lot of times scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are inspired by the science fiction books that they read and the science fiction movies and TV shows that they watch.”
In fact, the so-called father of science fiction Sir Arthur C. Clarke inspired some modern-day global communication satellites. Similarly, engineers at Motorola were motivated by Star Trek technology.
Considering how much technology has advanced in the last sixty years, it’s not unfathomable that time travel could be accomplished.
Microwave ovens, commercial airliners, personal computers, cellphones, MRI machines and GPS trackers were only realised in the last six decades, along with countless other inventions.
What do you believe is the most major technological advancement of your lifetime? Would you visit the future or return to the past, if time travel became a reality?