Now, I may be speaking out of my ass here, I often do, but I took a bit of umbrage (just a smidgen) at this article announcing that Chinese scientists have proved time travel impossible. Now, I am no physicist and I certainly don’t understand the full implications of their research, but I thought that it was not really possible to prove that something was impossible. I will explain.
According to the article referenced above, Chinese physicists have published a study indicating that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Okay, I get that much. Einstein, as I remember it, was a big believer that nothing traveled faster than the speed of light. Other scientists had speculated that if a single photon COULD travel faster than the speed of light then it might “teleport” information to another time. Thus, the above referenced article concludes that these Chinese physicists have soundly debunked any and all possibility of time travel.
But, are these conclusions solidly supported by these facts? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that time travel is possible. I don’t know and I don’t really care. However, if these scientists have in fact proven that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, haven’t they merely proven that time travel by the particular above mentioned theory isn’t possible? I don’t know much about other theories, but I’m doubting that we know that much about the universe to say for sure that there aren’t other possibilities (Wikipedia seems to indicate other existing theories beyond faster than light travel). They may not be possible possibilities, but isn’t this article overreaching these facts in coming to this conclusion?
Even beyond that, have they really proven that NOTHING can travel beyond the speed of light? As I read the article, the study concerned single photons only. I cannot see that this study indicates that there might not be other particles we have not yet discovered that cannot travel beyond the speed of light. It doesn’t seem particularly likely that there are, but it seems a bit arrogant to assume that we have discovered everything.
Further, has this study really PROVED that a single photon cannot travel beyond the speed of light? The study certainly indicates such, but has this study exhausted the possibilities of single photons? It would seem that photons are a difficult thing to set labaratory conditions for in order to prove things absolutely, given that there are almost infinite different circumstances that could affect the result in some weird way. I haven’t read the study, but it seems improbable that the scientists were able to probe everything.
Again, I’m not a particular believer in time travel. Also, normally I’m not a big fan of believing in something that has no evidentiary or theoretical support at all (I’m not a big faith guy for believing in something in absolute certainty). However, I’m extremely hesitant anytime someone says something has been absolutely PROVED to be true and/or untrue. We can hypothesize, experiment, and collect data to support models that indicate that something is extremely likely and/or unlikely, but the universe is so vastly complex and our entire base of knowledge is rewritten so many times – absolute certainty just seems a little unbelievable, if not arrogant for assuming that we have not missed any little detail.
I’m just saying, the article may be jumping a little far to state that the physicists have debunked any possibility of time travel. They have certainly shot some extremely serious holes in one of the apparently more thought out theories, but I don’t think this eliminates any possibility at all. Of course, given the unlikelihood that time travel is possible, perhaps the reporter concerned just didn’t care or wanted to stir sci-fi fanatics up.