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The case against time travel

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Old June 21st 05, 09:30 PM
persian ram
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Default The case against time travel

The Case Against Time Travel

Synopsis: Time travel cannot happen since time exists only at the moment.

There are several aspects about my argument that I must present before
actually getting to my conclusion, if only to make sure the reader is in the
same frame of reference I am speaking of.

The most important point is I am NOT making an argument for or against the
possibility of traveling through SPACE at some fantastic rate, nor am I
addressing the possibility of worm holes or other SPACE anomalies that may
or may not facilitate transport over seemingly vast distances. Such
considerations are purely rooted in physical properties and have absolutely
NOTHING TO DO with this discussion. DO NOT send me any discussion or
argument about being able to get to the stars in a short period of time. I
am not interested in that.

Second, this discussion has nothing to do with the possibility of alternate
universes. As above, such considerations are purely rooted in physical
properties and have absolutely NOTHING TO DO with this discussion. DO NOT
send me any discussion or argument about being able to observe or translate
to an alternate universe. I am not interested in that.

So much for what this discussion is NOT about. Continue on for case against
time travel.

Time. What is time? There is no assignment of observable property of time.
Great minds in the realms of philosophy, physics, and mathematics have
contemplated the nature of time for millenia. I make no claim to being a
great mind in any of those realms. All I know of time is a thought that I
gathered somewhere along the way, and I apologize to the originator for not
being able to attribute the quote. “Time is what keeps everything from
happening all at once.”

When everything happens at once there is no differentiation of events.
There is no information. An example of this is the paper chart recorder
where the paper doesn’t move. The pen can move back and forth across the
chart paper, but all one can gather from the ink line is the ultimate
maximum and minimum unit being measured. Fluctuations, trends, periods….
non of that is indicated. Without time all there would be would be a noise
level of occurances.

How do you consider time? I am of the opinion that most of us have a very
constricting view of time. We have based our entire culture of time based
on the nature of our planet. Some aspects of our time culture is based on
the rate of rotation and some based on orbit of our planet around our star.

Our culture, through thousands of years of observation coupled with some
survival needs, has developed a sense of events repeating with some
frequency and that has translated to a definition of “time”. The moon phase
cycles every 28 days. The sun rises and sets every day. The planet orbits
its star every year.

As scientific and other cultural observations expanded the need to have
smaller divisions of time were defined. Days, Hours, Minutes, seconds. The
second is as small as we have progressed, even though scientists routinely
speak of phenomena in the nano-second realm.

But all of this is really some contrived and arbitrary set of markers that
have been agreed upon in order to describe what is happening with some
PHYSICAL circumstance. And, it makes absolutely no difference which
physical circumstance is being described.

Suppose we lived somewhere in the universe on a non-rotating body, far away
from a star. There would be very few handy observable events to relate to a
period of “time.” The concept may never arise in such an environment.

The fact of the matter is that time is a commodity without form or
substance. It therefore cannot be altered or stored. As far as time is
concerned there is only now. There is no accumulation of time from the past
nor supply of it that is waiting for us in the future. This why time travel
is only a fantasy and not any sort of physical possibility.

What are the assumptions for time travel? A popular notion is that some
physical object, (let’s use a human being as an example; there is no use
wasting an example on a bean) is transported from a location of Cincinnati,
Ohio May 13, 2008 at 1307 local time, to London, England, March 21, 1887,
1521 local time. Now, how ludicrous can this assumption be? This assumes
that on the origin date there is a historical destination date still in
existence!! There has to be a place to travel TO, in order for the trip to
be made! The same thing goes for making a similar trip into the future. It
assumes this place is already in existence.

What would it take for there to be any CHANCE for this to happen? There is
one scenario that could be concocted for travel to the future. First you
have to imagine that there is a finite, albeit very, very large, amount of
the commodity we refer to as time to which is already configured to produce
a defined group of events and that our “universe”, by some unknown device,
is constantly activating the action/reactions we observe.

If you have difficulty imagining this situation I suggest thinking of a
piece of motion picture film. Each frame is a recorded piece of time, but
it doesn’t mean anything until it passes in front of the projector light.

A wave-theory-style example is that there is a large number of Pringles
potato chips nested together and as the “wave of time” passes a chip it is
activated and as it leaves it no longer is activated.

This scenario relies on the constraint that everything that could possibly
happen is preordained.

Well, just because something is advertised as preordained has never impeded
our quest before. There ain’t no jail that can keep us locked up for very
long. So, you think you have figured out a way to bust out and jump ahead.
Just one small problem with the space-time continuum: you have removed some
matter from one point of space-time and inserted into a different point of
space-time. At the very least this would cause some type of disruption at
both the departing and arriving points.

What would it really take in order for time travel to be a reality. To
explain this I ask you to take a deck of cards or a package of paper or
anything else handy that has a substantial number of near identical pieces.
I will refer to everything in the remainder of this point as a card. In the
middle of your cards assign one card as “the present” Assign a card on one
end as the past and the card on the other end as the future. As a time
traveler you claim you will someday be able to figure out how to get from
the present to either the future or the past.

Since every past day was once a present, and every future day will some day
be a present it only follows that there has to be an agreement just what
constitutes “the present”

This in itself gets quite sticky, because the implication is that somewhere
along the line there is a segregated TIME UNIT, and what we experience is a
very rapid compilation of individual occurrences. I do not believe time has
such a property.

But even if time DOES have some basic component, that, in itself, does not
give rise to being able to travel through it.

Remember. The time travelers claim they can go from one point in TIME to
another. The only way that can happen is if all of the base units of time
to present, with all of their entrained information, are perpetually in

What is the entrained information? The entrained information is the
location of every subatomic particle plus every bit of energy (in every
known and unknown form) in existence. Then there is the philosophical
question, “where do these packets of time reside?” I don’t think this is
the same challenge as determining how many angels can dance on the head of a
pin, but it may be.

The obvious corollary would be where are the new units of time coming from?
If you want to believe that there is indeed this continuing accumulation of
history that can somehow be accessed then you have to think about the source
of the time units and how it is that they can record the events of the

Since the greatest minds of our planet haven’t even been able to solve the
mysteries of our universe, an environment we can observe a great deal of,
how is it I can be so certain about my pronouncements about something
unobservable? That is cheeky of me, to be sure. But the logic is flawless.

My argument against the possibility of time travel has not touched on the
mechanics of the challenge for a simple reason. Since there is no property
to time, there is no attribute that can be subverted or exploited in order
to gain the desired objective. For instance, when an airplane leaves the
ground, it does so by exploiting physical properties of the atmosphere.
Since there is no physical property to time one cannot theoretically propose
a method to getting around, over, ahead or behind it.

But, it is irrelevant. There is no place to go. This is what you’ve got.
Right now. It was different an instant back and different in another
instant. Make the best of right now.

Charles Petterson

The Persian Ram


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