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Time Travel Without Paradoxes Possible Say Physicists Who "Squared the Numbers"

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Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modelling of a prodigious University of Queensland undergraduate student.

Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar has been investigating the possibility of time travel, under the supervision of UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa.

“Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system,” Mr Tobar said.

Delorean Time Machine Replica
Credit:  DeLorean Rental / Wikimedia Commons

“This has a wide range of applications, from allowing us to send rockets to other planets and modelling how fluids flow.

“For example, if I know the current position and velocity of an object falling under the force of gravity, I can calculate where it will be at any time.

“However, Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts the existence of time loops or time travel – where an event can be both in the past and future of itself – theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head.”

Mr Tobar said a unified theory that could reconcile both traditional dynamics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was the holy grail of physics.

“But the current science says both theories cannot both be true,” he said.

“As physicists, we want to understand the Universe’s most basic, underlying laws and for years I’ve puzzled on how the science of dynamics can square with Einstein’s predictions.

“I wondered: “is time travel mathematically possible?”

Image: Dr Fabio Costa (left) with Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar.

Credit: University of Queensland
Mr Tobar and Dr Costa say they have found a way to “square the numbers” and Dr Costa said the calculations could have fascinating consequences for science.

“The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” Dr Costa said.

“Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus.

“However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected – that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place.

“This is a paradox – an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe.

“Some physicists say it is possible, but logically it’s hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action.

“It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur.”

However the researchers say their work shows that neither of these conditions have to be the case, and it is possible for events to adjust themselves to be logically consistent with any action that the time traveller makes.

“In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” Mr Tobar said.

“No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you.

“This would mean that – no matter your actions – the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it.

“Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency.

“The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.”

The research is published in Classical and Quantum Gravity (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/aba4bc).

Contacts and sources:
Dominic Jarvis
University of Queensland



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  • Counter Analysis

    The arrow of time seems very clear on the macro scale of cause and effect of everyday events. Even on the quantum scale, there is an implied arrow of time. You may not be able to determine which direction the arrow is pointing based on quantum cause and effect events, but the arrow exists because reversing those events can and would likely lead to divergence from the origin due to quantum randomness. A particle is spread out across its probability wave and just because that particle was manifest at one point doesn’t meant it will still manifest at that point upon reversal of the arrow of time (unlike billiard balls) , hence arrow reversal is highly improbable.

    Can events be changed by time travel? If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to witness it, did it happen? Is Schrodinger’s cat a time traveler? How about a witness with a gas mask in the box with the cat who knows before the box opener. Did the revelation to the opener cause the outcome that was witnessed by the witness beforehand? If you go back in time and redo the experiment to get a live cat because you were sad Whiskers died the first time, you are presupposing the ability to end back in a position to redo the experiment. You may meet yourself and explain what happened to yourself. Both yourselves agree to a redo, though it is the first “do” for your first self who does not share the recollection of your other self. Lucky, this time Whisker lives, and one of yourselves pets the…

    • Counter Analysis

      Lucky, this time Whisker lives, and one of yourselves pets the cat even as he remembers the previous death. Your first self is still puzzling over the arrival of a twin with a strange story. Strange? yes. Impossible? maybe not. Both yourselves have a preserved arrow of cause and effect. The puzzle over the arrival of a twin had an explainable cause (presumably).
      If you went back in time and killed yourself, there is no reason your future self would die, though absent an explanation, it would be very perplexing to witnesses who would not go on to have future experiences with you old self, that you shared with them and remember. Both realities are then true, but only the time traveler has experienced both of them.

      Perhaps perplexing events can be indicative of possible time travel and event tampering. Experiencing your unknown twin showing up with a wild story of time travel is very obvious, but possibly there are subtle clues to discern.

  • PeacePlanet

    Very intriguing.

  • stonecold68

    What homonid instinctive response compells reasoning to time travel in most theorised examples? In order to effect an adjustment in timeline of movements/choice and decision to affect an altered outcome of event to limit/counter future timeline of occurances back to ‘here and now’.To enact reproduction of past actions to correct error, in essence, correct with “HINDSIGHT”! As they say “it`s all good in hindsight”, a statement for me that reinforces forfeiture of error realisation to take two steps back for correction. “Not enough time in a minute, an hour, a day” in this here and now to “LEARN FROM MISTAKES MADE”! The marketed slogan of these times is “to have it now,faster, better, you NEED THIS like YESTERDAY, DON`T DO ANYTHING,put your feet up,relax,DO NOTHING while the SHAMNOW does IT ALL for you”,do NOT even decide,WE`LL DO IT FOR YOU”!…TAKE TIME, YOURE TIME, live long, PROSPER!

  • Slimey

    No, you can’t be at two places at the same time. Duhhhh…….

    Can you go back and prevent your burth? Then what???

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