– Many theories have been put forward about the probability of time travel. Some scientists say time travel is impossible, others propose we can travel to the future, but not the past because it would mean traveling faster than light.
Several ideas how to achieve time travel has been developed and some of the models could even work. Not long ago, Ben Tippett, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at University of British Columbia announced not only that time travel is possible, but also that he had developed mathematical model for a viable time machine.
Tippet’s Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (TARDIS) is described as a bubble of space-time geometry which carries its contents backward and forwards through space and time as it tours a large circular path. The bubble moves through space-time at speeds greater than the speed of light at times, allowing it to move backward in time.
Another idea presented by researchers is based on the possibility that we can travel in time with help of Whorfian time warp.
The warping time theory was developed by legendary linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941)
Whorf described his “new principle of relativity, which holds that all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar”. His research appeared to show that speakers of different kinds of language were, as a result of those language differences, cognitively different from one another.
Whorf stated that the Hopi, a Native American tribe who live in north-eastern Arizona did not have any words for time – no direct translation for the noun time itself, no grammatical constructions indicating the past or future – and therefore could not conceive of it. They experienced reality in a fundamentally different way.
The idea fascinated people: Whorf’s work became popular “knowledge” but his credibility waned from the 60s onward. By the mid-80s, linguist Ekkehart Milotki had published two enormous books in two languages discrediting the “time-less Hopi” idea.
Nevertheless, the warping time theory is still being investigated and fascinated many scientists today
In a July 2017 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, two linguistics researchers probed the depths of the Whorfian Time Warp, finding interesting support for its validity.
Emanuel Byland and Panos Athanasopoulos, both Ph.D.s in linguistics, base their research on Whorf’s theory that language itself shaped our perception of the world, effectively creating different temporal strokes for different people.
The researchers demonstrate how language shapes how the brain perceives time.
Bilinguals go back and forth between their languages rapidly and, often, unconsciously — a phenomenon called code-switching.
But different languages also embody different worldviews, different ways of organizing the world around us. And time is a case in point. For example, Swedish and English speakers prefer to mark the duration of events by referring to physical distances, e.g. a short break, a long wedding, etc. The passage of time is perceived as distance travelled.
But Greek and Spanish speakers tend to mark time by referring to physical quantities, e.g. a small break, a big wedding. The passage of time is perceived as growing volume.
During the study researchers discovered that people who were fluent in both Spanish and Swedish ad different perceptions of time, depending on what language they were thinking in, suggesting that they have a cognitive flexibility monolinguals like us lack. In other words, they were just as comfortable thinking about time as a line stretching out to the horizon and as the drip-drip-drip of rain into a bucket.
According to Athanasopoulos, ”the fact that bilinguals go between these different ways of estimating time effortlessly and unconsciously fits in with a growing body of evidence demonstrating the ease with which language can creep into our most basic senses, including our emotions, our visual perception and now it turns out, our sense of time:”
So, if you think in those terms, time travel is certainly possible and Whorfian time warp does let you control your own experience of time.
Still, it’s hardly what most of us would define is true time travel. Many of us think that going to the past or future involves seeing things that will happen or has already taken place.
We should also not forget that if we could access higher dimensions we could see all past, present and future events appear before our eyes simultaneously. So, time travel can certainly be possible. But how are we going to access those higher dimensions? That’s a question no-one has solved yet.