Sunday, 10 February 2008
The world's first time machine? Tunnel to the past could open door to future within three months, say Russians:
Time travel could be a reality within just three months, Russian mathematicians have claimed.
They believe an experiment nuclear scientists plan to carry out in underground tunnels in Geneva in May could create a rift in the fabric of the universe.
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) hopes its "atom-smashing" tests - which aim to recreate the conditions in the first billionth of a second after the "Big Bang'" created everything - will shed invaluable light on the origins of the universe.
But Irina Aref'eva and Igor Volovich, of Moscow's Steklov Mathematical Institute, say the energy produced by forcing tiny particles to collide at close to the speed of light could open the door to visitors from the future.
According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, any large amounts of matter or energy will distort the space and time that surrounds it.
If the energy or mass is large enough, it is claimed that time can be distorted so much that it folds back on itself - creating a wormhole, or time tunnel, between the present and the future.
But Dr Brian Cox, a member of CERN and one of Britain's leading experts in particle physics, is highly sceptical about the Russian claims, calling them "nothing more than a good science fiction story".
Wormhole: Scientists plan to carry out tests in underground tunnels in Geneva in May which could create a rift in the fabric of the universe
He said: "Cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere are far more energetic than anything we can produce.
"They have been occurring for five billion years, and no time travellers have appeared.
"Stephen Hawking has suggested that any future theory of quantum gravity will probably close this possibility off, not least because the universe usually proceeds in a sane way, and time travel into the past isn't sane."
Cynics often point out that if time travel was really possible, we would have been visited by people from the future.
However, Einstein's laws of physics suggest that time travel is only possible into the past as far as the point when the first time machine was invented