Time travel has been one of the most debated topics in the realm of science and philosophy for generations, with many experts still believing that it will never be physically possible. However, an Astrophysicist named Ron Mallett believes he’s found a way to actually do it. He hasn’t actually built a time traveling device that will send anyone or anything to a different era, but he does believe that he has some of the theory worked out, which is at least the first step.
Mallett is no quack, he is a tenured University of Connecticut physics professor who has an otherwise very serious resume and reputation. In an interview with CNN, Mallett claimed to have written a scientific equation that could be the basis for a real-life time machine. In addition to the math, Mallett has also built a prototype device so he can demonstrate how the real thing could actually work.
Mallett uses Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which states that time accelerates or decelerates depending on the speed at which an object is moving, to suggest that traveling at the speed of light could allow people to travel into the future. It is a bit complicated, but the theory suggests that if we had spaceships that traveled at the speed of light, we could send people out into space at those high rates of speed, which would allow time to slow down for them but not for everyone else.
Mallett suggests that a person could spend a week traveling through space, and have roughly ten years pass here on earth in that same span of time. The person could then return to earth after a week, and technically ten years worth of time would have passed on earth, placing them ten years in the future.
This theory is actually not so strange for physicists, many of whom already agree that skipping forward in time is a possibility. However, unlike most scientists, Mallett thinks that it is physically possible to send people backward in time as well. For this feat, he believes that it could be possible to bend space and time using lasers.
“By studying the type of gravitational field that was produced by a ring laser. this could lead to a new way of looking at the possibility of a time machine based on a circulating beam of light,” Mallett told CNN.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the field is as optimistic as Mallet is about time travel. In fact, astrophysicist Paul Sutter said that there were “deep flaws in his mathematics and his theory,” and said that “a practical device seems unattainable.”
Mallett admits that his work is only theoretical, and he has said that even with his optimistic outlook, there are still some serious limitations to the capabilities of such a device. For example, as many time traveling theorists have suggested in the past, you can only go back in history as far as the date that the first time machine was built and turned on.