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Time Travel

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Author Topic: Time Travel  (Read 219 times)
Stacy Dohm
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Posts: 4566

« on: January 29, 2007, 03:19:56 am »

Other approaches based on general relativity

Another approach involves a dense spinning cylinder usually referred to as a Tipler cylinder, a GR solution discovered by Willem Jacob van Stockum [14] in 1936 and Kornel Lanczos [15] in 1924, but not recognized as allowing closed timelike curves[16] until an analysis by Frank Tipler[17] in 1974. If a cylinder is long, and dense, and spins fast enough about its long axis, then a spaceship flying around the cylinder on a spiral path could travel back in time (or forward, depending on the direction of its spiral). However, the density and speed required is so great that ordinary matter is not strong enough to construct it. A similar device might be built from a cosmic string, but none are known to exist, and it does not seem to be possible to create a new cosmic string.

Physicist Robert Forward noted that a na´ve application of general relativity to quantum mechanics suggests another way to build a time machine. A heavy atomic nucleus in a strong magnetic field would elongate into a cylinder, whose density and "spin" are enough to build a time machine. Gamma rays projected at it might allow information (not matter) to be sent back in time. However, he pointed out that until we have a single theory combining relativity and quantum mechanics, we will have no idea whether such speculations are nonsense.[citation needed]

A more fundamental objection to time travel schemes based on rotating cylinders or cosmic strings has been put forward up by Stephen Hawking, who argues that it is impossible to build a time machine in any finite region that satisfies the weak energy condition, meaning that the region contains no exotic matter with negative energy. Solutions such as Tipler's assume cylinders of infinite length, which are easier to analyze mathematically, and although Tipler suggested that a finite cylinder might produce closed timelike curves if the rotation rate were fast enough,[18] he did not prove this. Hawking, on the other hand, claims that "it can't be done with positive energy density everywhere! I can prove that to build a finite time machine, you need negative energy."[19] This result comes from Hawking's 1992 paper on the chronology protection conjecture, where he examines "the case that the causality violations appear in a finite region of spacetime without curvature singularities" and proves that "[t]here will be a Cauchy horizon that is compactly generated and that in general contains one or more closed null geodesics which will be incomplete. One can define geometrical quantities that measure the Lorentz boost and area increase on going round these closed null geodesics. If the causality violation developed from a noncompact initial surface, the averaged weak energy condition must be violated on the Cauchy horizon."[20]

Time travel and the anthropic principle

It has been suggested by physicists such as Max Tegmark that the absence of time travel and the existence of causality may be due to the anthropic principle. The argument is that a universe which allows for time travel and closed time-like loops is one in which intelligence could not evolve because it would be impossible for a being to sort events into a past and future or to make predictions or comprehend the world around them (at least, not if the time travel occurs in such a way that it disrupts that evolutionary process).[citation needed]

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