Ross: Physicist says time travel is impossible… but can’t make an absolute promise


I wanted to highlight part of last week’s interview with physicist Sean Carroll about time travel since it appears that none of the major mainstream media picked up on it.

It was the part where I ambushed him and asked him point-blank if any kind of time travel is real:

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“No – it won’t be possible, don’t worry about it,” Carroll said.

Not possible, he said, don’t worry about it. So, to be clear, this means Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Looper, the Terminator movies, and all three Back to the Futures are based on a false premise and should not be taken seriously.

This is not to criticize people who still believe time might be malleable — in fact there is a school of thought among physicists called Eternalism:

“The whole universe, all of eternity, is all real,” Carrol explained. “Past, present, and future.”

But we don’t have access to it.

It seems to me if you somehow did travel through time, since spacetime is the medium in which we there exist, your own brain and body would also be affected the trip. So you would arrive in the past not knowing how to get back, and you could arrive in the future as scattered snippets of DNA.

But now we don’t have to worry about that, because we have it from a respected physicist that time travel is not possible. So wishing you’d chosen a different career, or gotten off Interstate 5 when Chris told you to, or that we still had Russell Wilson, or just going back 24 hours so the Mariners could get another crack at that sixth inning yesterday … none of that is worth contemplating.

Although I am obliged to admit that after giving me a clear “no” on time travel, Sean did have one caveat:

“I don’t think it’s possible that’s why I said no, I think there’s very good reasons to expect that [time travel] will never happen but I can’t make you an absolute promise,” Carroll said.

So, yes, that falls a little short of what I was looking for, but I’ll make you a deal. If any of you have proof of actually traveling through time, including some nice sharp cell phone video or a piece of incontrovertible evidence such as… an American League pennant from “The Future” – I will have someone on the staff arrange to submit your evidence Uncle Sean.

Even though he may never speak to us again.

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