Researchers at the University of Queensland have utilized light particles to simulate the processes behind time travel for the first time.
According to Phys.org, the time travel experiment used photons of light to simulate quantum particles, and model their behavior. At the core of the experiment are closed timelike curves, a highly controversial feature of modern physics first discovered by Kurt Gödel in 1949. A closed timelike curve allows for time travel under relativistic physics, proposing that a path can be charted through space-time that would return to the starting point in space, yet at an earlier time. The concept has led to a number of paradoxes in classical physics, such as the question about whether a time traveler would be able to stop their grandparents from meeting, therefore preventing their own birth, and subsequent travel through time. According to Tim Ralph, one of the University of Queensland physics professors who co-authored a paper on the experiment, quantum mechanics allows for such paradoxes to be avoided in time travel:
"The properties of quantum particles are 'fuzzy' or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations."
PhD student Martin Ringbauer, who also serves as lead author of the paper, said, "The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories – Einstein's general relativity and quantum mechanics." Pointing out that closed timelike curves seem paradoxical though they are "legitimate solutions to Einstein's field equations," Ringbauer wrote in the paper's abstract that "in the quantum regime these paradoxes can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity."
The Queensland scientists aren't the only ones whose recent experiments have bearing on the possibility of time travel. According to Discovery News, Luke Butcher, a theoretical physicist at he University of Cambridge, recently published a paper in which he revisited the idea of stabilizing wormholes using negative casimir energy. Butcher was able to calculate that a theoretical wormhole could be held open long enough to permit a pulse of light to transit its length. Wormholes, if they exist in nature, serve to bridge two points in space-time as a shortcut, and provide the mechanism whereby time travel via closed timelike curves could be possible.
Time travel through wormholes is a controversial concept, at best. As The Inquisitr previously reported, physicist Brian Cox claimed that travel forward through time is possible and supported by relativity. Cox also stated that travel backwards through time would only be possible through a wormhole.
The University of Queensland researcher's paper, "Experimental simulation of closed timelike curves", was published in Nature Communications. Their findings may challenge Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and have implications for quantum cryptography, as well as time travel.
[Image via Phys.org]