Time travel and time machines have taken on various forms in pop culture. From Doc Brown's Delorean to Doctor Who's TARDIS, they can take any shape or style. Now, a team of physicists thinks they've developed a mathematical model and a theoretical time machine.
The team said they've made a box that can move back and forth through time and space using the curvature of both. Ben Tippett, a mathematics and physics instructor at the University of British Columbia in Canada developed the formula.
"People think of time travel as something fictional," says Tippett. "And we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible."
Tippett collaborated with David Tsang, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland. The pair called their model Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time. Yes, their model's acronym is actually TARDIS.
However, the guys aren't proposing they've managed to create Doctor Who's trademark time machine. Far from it; but they've definitely given us plenty to discuss.
The universe is widely considered to have three spatial dimensions and a fourth dimension -- time. The heart of the mathematical time machine is founded upon the idea that we should see all four dimensions simultaneously. This allows the team to better acknowledge a possible space-time continuum in which different directions of both space and time connect at various points.
"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,” Tippet said. "That circle takes us back in time."
Tippett and Tsang's model assumes that time would basically curve around high-mass objects. This replicates what space does throughout our universe. Albert Einstein's theory of relativity ties gravitational effects to the curving of both space and time. This led to another justification as to why planets orbit in an ellipse. Theoretically, if space-time wasn't curved, then planets should travel in straight lines. They don't because space-time becomes curved around high-mass objects.
"The time direction of space-time surface also shows curvature, said Tippett. "There is evidence showing the closer to a black hole we get, time moves slower."
The "time machine" proposed works as a bubble that travels faster than the speed of light.
“It is a box which travels ‘forwards’ and then ‘backwards’ in time along a circular path through spacetime,” they wrote in their paper.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
While it seems that these two researchers have time travel nearly sorted, the men assure the public that we're far from a real TARDIS.
"While it is mathematically feasible, it is not yet possible to build a space-time machine because we need materials -- which we call exotic matter -- to bend space-time in these impossible ways," Tippett noted. However, there's only one catch. These exotic materials have yet to be discovered.
That doesn't mean the team is abandoning its research. Time travel has become one of humanities biggest fascinations. It's only a matter of time before someone develops it, and research like Tippett's and Tsiang's helps get us one step closer.
"Studying space-time is both fascinating and problematic," Tippett noted. "Experts in my field have been exploring the possibility fo mathematical time machines since 1949, and my research presents a new method for doing it."