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Time travel

for beginners

Module: PHY 1.21 – Relativity & Time Travel

Lecturer: Dr. E. Brown
A Time Travel Timeline
The Terminator

The Time Machine Interstellar

(H.G. Wells) TimeCop
Back to the Future Hot Tub
Time Machine

Contact Kip Thorne: Doctor Who

(Carl Traversable Steven Hawking:
Sagan) Wormholes Chronology
Einstein: Protection
Flight of the
Navigator Bill & Ted’s
The Pitfalls & the Possibilities
Travel to the future

Multi-directional travel

Travel to our past

Instantaneous time travel

Hot Tub Time Machine

Timey-Wimey Stuff

Newton: Time is a constant

Einstein: Time is relative

Relativity > Future time travel

• Hafele-Keating Experiment (1971)

Astronauts live in the future!

Time Warp Again
Time dilation increases
exponentially at relativistic

Light speed = 300,000km/s

Flight of the Navigator
(Randal Kleiser, 1986)
Woah, That’s Heavy
Einstein’s Theory of General

1. The Universe has 4


2. The fabric of spacetime is


(Christopher Nolan, 2014)
Tunnels through Time
How to travel back in time?
…Find a shortcut!

4 steps to Wormhole Time Travel:

1. Find / manufacture wormhole
2. Induce time shift
3. Hold wormhole open
4. Travel to the future & back

Wormholes, Time Machines
and the Weak Energy Condition
(Kip Thorne (et al.), 1988)
Paradoxes to Ponder
1. Causal Loop
• A future event is the cause of a past event Watch:
which is the cause of the future event The Terminator
(James Cameron, 1984)

2. “Grandfather Paradox“
• Altering the past causes a contradiction Watch:
in the present Back to the Future
(Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Time Cops

Alternative realities
Temporal consistency

Stephen Hawking’s
Chronology Protection
A Timely Conclusion

Analyze the extent to which sci-fi movies obey the
scientific “rules” of time travel, with reference to
physical approaches, restrictions and paradoxes

1,500 words

Due: 5th November, 11:59pm

Further Reading
1. Toomey, David, 1997 - The New Time Travelers: a journey to the frontiers of physics. 2nd Edition.
(New York : W. W. Norton).

2. Thorne, Kip (et al.), 1988 - “Wormholes, Time Machines, and the Weak Energy Condition”.
Retrieved from:

3. Da Sylva, J-F., 2006 - The Grandfather Paradox [Video file].

Retrieved from:

4. Wells, H.G., 1895 - The Time Machine: New Web Edition,, 2017.
Retrieved from:

5. DiBella, N, The Big Questions: Lecture Notes 5: Is Time Travel Possible? Summer 2008.
(MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Retrieved from:

6. Neto, D. (2015, April 10). David Neto: Black Holes & Time Travel, TEDxOStateU [Video file].
Retrieved from: