Would you like to travel back in time and change things from your past? Well, maybe you can. Ronald Mallet, an astrophysicist and tenured University of Connecticut physics professor, thinks it is theoretically possible.
Time-traveling has been in our imaginations since we discovered what time is and how we move in it. Our comprehension so far is that we move in that one dimension constantly, always forward, and that we don’t really have a choice—unlike in the other three dimensions in which we live our lives.
Einstein’s theory of special relativity always plays a crucial role when new theories of time traveling appear, and this is not an exception. This theory explains how time is not absolute, as we have believed, but rather, it depends on the speed at which an object is moving, and time can accelerate or decelerate depending on that.
The Twin Paradox explains how if there are two identical twins and one of them makes a journey into space in a really high-speed rocket, after he returns to Earth he will have aged less than the one that stayed on Earth. This is well accepted in the science community as a possible scenario if we ever get to reproduce this experiment. However, time travel is not possible, at least not so far.
While Mallet acknowledges that his theories and designs are unlikely to allow time travel in his lifetime, that’s not stopping him from pursuing his dream and to meet his beloved father again; therefore, he has developed some scientific equations and principles upon which he says a time machine could be created.
Mallet was age 10 when his father suddenly died from a heart attack, that event changed the track of his life forever.
“For me, the sun rose and set on him, he was just the center of things,” he told CNN Travel. “Even today, after all of these years, there’s still an unreality about it for me.”
Ron Mallett and his family at Bronx Park in the 1950s.
Mallet has spent his career investigating black holes as well as general relativity. On his professional journey, he has also been theorizing about time travel and a complex mission to build a machine capable of visiting the past. Some of his peers would argue he’ll never get there.
“If you can bend space, there’s a possibility of you twisting space,” Mallett told CNN. “In Einstein’s theory, what we call space also involves time—that’s why it’s called space-time, whatever it is you do to space also happens to time.”
Mallet believes that it is theoretically possible to twist time into a loop that would allow for time travel into the past. He has even built a prototype showing how lasers might help him achieve this goal.
“By studying the type of gravitational field that was produced by a ring laser,” Mallett told CNN, “this could lead to a new way of looking at the possibility of a time machine based on a circulating beam of light.”
Mallet is conscious that his idea is wholly theoretical at this point and that some restrictions may apply.
“You can send information back,” he told CNN, “but you can only send it back to the point at which you turn the machine on.”
Physics is beautiful and complicated. Some of the greatest minds across history doubted themselves when they became aware of the size of the discovery they had made and Einstein was one of them, creating the “cosmological constant” to maintain a “static universe” just after he discovered that the universe and everything inside it was expanding.
Hopefully, if Ron Mallet gets to build that machine in his lifetime, he doesn’t get too scared to actually use it.