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UBC Okanagan instructor sees time travel as a mathematical possibility

Forget the DeLorean - UBC Okanagan mathematician and physicist Ben Tippett says time travel is mathematically possible, but the means by which to do it hasn't been discovered yet.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/UBC Okanagan
May 04, 2017 - 9:31 AM

KELOWNA - A UBC Okanagan instructor’s study using math and physics was recently published in the prestigious science journal Classical and Quantum Gravity - and it’s about time.

Instructor Ben Tippett study about the feasibility of time travel resulted in a mathematical model for a viable time machine.

The mathematics and physics instructor’s field of expertise is Einstein’s theory of general relativity, according to a UBCO media release. He studies black holes and science fiction when he’s not teaching at the Kelowna campus.

“People think of time travel as something fictional, and we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it. But mathematically, it is possible,” Tippett says in the release.

Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity stated gravitational fields are caused by distortions in the fabric of space and time, a theory confirmed only recently when an international team of physics institutes and research groups detected gravitational waves generated by colliding black holes billions of light years away, the release states.

Tippett says the division of space into three dimensions with time as a separate dimension is incorrect. He says the four dimensions should be imagined simultaneously, where different directions are connected as a space-time continuum. He uses Einstein’s theory to explain how the curvature of space-time accounts for the curved orbits of the planets.

Image Credit: Universal City Studios, Inc.

Tippett goes on to explain in uncurved space time, planets and stars move in straight lines, but in the vicinity of a massive star, space-time geometry becomes curved and straight trajectories of nearby planets will follow the curvature and bend around the star.

In this case the time direction of the space-time surface also shows curvature, with evidence of time moving slower the closer one gets to a black hole.

“My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time, to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line. That circle takes us back in time,” he says.

But if you’re thinking of climbing into the DeLorean for a trip back to the 80s, don’t pack your bags just yet.

Tippett says while it is mathematically feasible to describe time travel, he doesn’t see it happening anytime soon, as we have yet to discover the materials - which Tippett refers to as ‘exotic matter’ -  from which a machine can be built to bend space-time.

Tippett says he finds studying space-time both fascinating and problematic. He also finds it a fun way to use math and physics.

“Experts in my field have been exploring the possibility of mathematical time machines since 1949," he says. "And my research presents a new method for doing it.”


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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