Ronald Mallett, a physicist at the University of Connecticut, believes he knows how to build a time machine. He has designed a machine that can transport anything from an atom to a person from one time to another. ?I hope to have a working mockup and start experiments this fall,? he says. ?I would think I was a crackpot, too, if there weren?t other colleagues I knew who were working on it. This isn?t Ron Mallett?s theory of matter; it?s Einstein?s theory of relativity. I?m not pulling things out of the known laws of physics.?
Alan Guth, a physics professor at MIT who has studied the theory of time machines, says he doesn?t think time travel is a possibility, ?Definitely not within our lifetimes.?
Physicist Stanley Deser, of Brandeis University, says the problem is not the physics, it?s whether time travel can be made to work. ?This is about trying to amass all the matter of the universe in a very small region,? he says. ?Good luck.?
Mallett?s boss, William Stwalley, chairman of the physics department, says, ?His ideas certainly have merit. I think some of his ideas are very interesting and they would make nice tests of general relativity.?
Mallett?s time machine uses only a ring of light. According to Einstein?s theory of gravity, anything that has mass or energy distorts the space and the passage of time around it, like a bowling ball dropped on a trampoline. Circulating laser beams in the right way, by slowing them down and shooting them through anything from fiber-optic cable to special crystals, might create a similar distortion that could theoretically transport someone through different times, Mallett believes.
Mallett and his colleagues plan to build a device to test whether it?s possible to transport a subatomic particle, probably a neutron, through time. The energy from a rotating laser beam would warp the space inside the ring of the light so that gravity forces the neutron to rotate sideways. With even more energy, it?s possible that a second neutron will appear. The second particle would be the first one visiting itself from the future.
While Mallett realizes that sending a person through time may require more energy than physicists today know how to harness, he sees it merely as ?an engineering problem.? If it?s possible to use light to send a neutron through time, he believes it won?t be long before engineers figure out a way to send a person. ?What we?re talking about is at the edge of current technology, not beyond current technology,? he says.
Ever since his father died of lung cancer at the age of 33, when Mallett was 10 years old, Mallett has longed to travel back in time to warn him about the dangers of cigarettes. But it wasn?t until a few years ago that he arrived at his idea of how to build a time machine.
He doesn?t worry about potential paradoxes, such as time travelers killing their parents and making it impossible for them to exist, because time travelers would exist in a parallel universe. He says, ?Any technology has a potential nefarious side to it, but I don?t think there's a way to stop it. We as a species have always reached out. We?ve been doing that since the caves. I say let?s make it so that we better reality. I think we can bravely do that.?
To learn another way to time travel, read ?Psychonavigation: Travel Beyond Time? by John Perkins,click here.
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