You can’t get a text message from a friend if you don’t own a phone. And you can’t get a message from the future unless you have a machine capable of receiving it.That’s exactly the kind of machine University of Connecticut physics professor Ronald Mallett has in mind.
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For years Mallett kept his time travel research a secret. He told the Hartford Courant that his father’s death in 1955 from a heart attack and reading the H.G. Wells’ novel “The Time Machine” first inspired him to study time travel. As a child he wanted to go back in time and save his dad.
While he’s said that kind of physical time travel isn’t possible, Mallett does think he could build a time machine that can receive messages from our descendants — children who aren’t born yet. Future generations could use Mallett’s machine to get in touch, which means as soon as we plugged in the machine, we could get a message.
Strangely, the more I read about the man’s ideas, the less crazy they sound.
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Riffing on Einstein’s work and the U.S. Naval Observatory’s flying clocks experiment, Mallett theorizes that light can alter time. “By using a circulating beam of laser light, I have been able to mathematically show that this can lead to a twisting of space and time,” he told Langley. A stream of neutron spins could transmit binary code back to the past.
The caveats: Messages would only go one way into the past. And they couldn’t be sent to any time before the machine exists.
Mallett estimated that his design for a machine that would use lasers to twist time would cost around $250,000 to build. Other physicists including Ken Olum at Tufts and Columbia University’s Brian Greene have been rightly skeptical. But Green told TechRadar he hopes the man succeeds anyway.
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If this whole thing sounds ripe for the big screen, it’s no surprise that Spike Lee is writing a script based on Mallett’s autobiography. Meanwhile, $250K doesn’t seem like that much dough to receive a message from the future. Unless, of course, the message just says, “Check your connection and try again later.”