Time travel is a vastly interesting and entertaining topic when you see it in a great movie, ranging from Terminator 2 (one of the greatest movies of all time) to Primer (the best time travel movie of all time). But in terms of how it would actually work in real life, things are not so fun.
I am not a physicist so I don’t know if time travel in real life is possible or not. My very weak laymen’s understanding is that traveling to the future may be theoretically possible but traveling to the past is not. Also that it may be possible to send small particles forwards and backwards in time (maybe?) but sending you back would be, again, impossible.
It just seems to me that time travel is impossible the same way going north is impossible once you’re standing at the top of the north pole. You can’t go “more” north at that point. But like I said, I’m no scientist so I could be wrong.
Here’s yet another problem that sci-fi writers never account for. People forget that this entire planet is spinning around a star. And that star is spinning around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. And that entire galaxy is hurtling through space at 12 miles per second towards Andromeda.
Sitting in your chair right now might seem like you’re not moving, when in fact you are moving at mind-bogglingly-fast speeds right this very second. We all are.
Let’s say you invented an actual working time machine just like in H.G. Wells’ book. You strap yourself in, throw the lever, and travel back to the middle ages to see how short women were back then. Poof! Now you’re back in the year 1056 AD. It worked! Just one problem. You’re now billions of miles away from the planet Earth, which won’t arrive at your current location for hundreds of years. So you instantly suffocate in deep space and die. Fun!
This means that every time machine must also be a warp-capable spacecraft like the Enterprise on Star Trek. Dr. Who solved this problem with his TARDIS, but we are perhaps thousands of years away from inventing faster-than-light travel (if that’s even possible!) even if someone invented time travel tomorrow morning.
That’s a problem.
That all being said, here’s what I think might be possible. I think the probability of this being possible is very low, but I think it’s much more likely than being able to go backwards in time without our own time line and actually hang out with George Washington or King Tut.
You may not be able to go backwards (or forwards) in time in our own time line and our own dimension, but it might be possible to go sideways in time to an alternate dimension that is identical to ours but with two differences:
1. It’s 1000 years (or whatever; you pick) behind us. So instead of going backwards in time 1000 years, you simply move to a dimension that is 1000 years behind us but otherwise identical.
2. 1000 years ago the Earth was in the same place astrologically as our Earth is now. This solves the problem of you teleporting there and just stepping into deep space.
This would only work if the infinite universes theory was true, and I have no idea if it is. But if it is, and there are indeed infinite universes with infinite possibilities, then it would be technically possible to invent technology that would “scan” the universes for any parallel universe that would be Earth in the current location that was an exact duplicate of our Earth plus or minus the exact number of years you’d want to go backwards and forwards in time.
You might be thinking this would all be extremely improbable, and you’d be right, but this is more probable than walking north when you are already at the top of the north pole. See my point?
If this was true (and again, I have no idea if it is), this would be really fun, because you would never have to worry about “screwing up the time line” like they do in the time travel movies. You could go backwards in time, fuck up as much of the time line as you’d like, and hop back to our home dimension with nothing changed. You’d be traveling dimensionally instead of chronologically.
Of course, if we really had that kind of working technology, going backwards in time would be boring as compared to the other possibilities. As just one example, you could instead travel into a parallel Earth where a small bag of salt is worth $10 billion, or where most of the population were women of exactly your type and worshiped men who looked exactly like you. Shit would be pretty crazy.
Or this could all be bullshit. I have no idea. Fun to think about though.