Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the need for the traveler to experience the intervening period (at least not at the normal rate). Any technological device – whether fictional, hypothetical or actual – that would be used to achieve time travel is commonly known as a time machine.

Time Travel Methods

In technical papers, physicists generally avoid the commonplace language of “moving” or “traveling” through time, and instead discuss the possibility of closed timelike curves, which are worldlines that form closed loops in spacetime, allowing objects to return to their own past. There are known to be solutions to the equations of general relativity that describe spacetimes which contain closed timelike curves (such as Gödel spacetime), but the physical plausibility of these solutions is uncertain.

The Speed of Light

If one were able to move information or matter from one point to another faster than light, then according to the theory of relativity, there would be some inertial frame of reference in which the signal or object was moving backward in time. This is a consequence of the relativity of simultaneity in special relativity, which says that in some cases different reference frames will disagree on whether two events at different locations happened “at the same time” or not, and they can also disagree on the order of the two events.

This is a consequence of the relativity of simultaneity in special relativity.


Wormholes are a hypothetical warped spacetime which are also permitted by the Einstein field equations of general relativity, although it would be impossible to travel through a wormhole unless it were what is known as a traversable wormhole.

A proposed time-travel machine using a traversable wormhole would (hypothetically) work in the following way: One end of the wormhole is accelerated to some significant fraction of the speed of light, perhaps with some advanced propulsion system, and then brought back to the point of origin.

Alternatively, another way is to take one entrance of the wormhole and move it to within the gravitational field of an object that has higher gravity than the other entrance, and then return it to a position near the other entrance.

Published by carlsagan