Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time

Physicist Ronald Mallett had a long-time love of science fiction, and has been fascinated with the possibility of time travel, or being able to see forward or backward in time.

This scientist wants to use a circulating light beam (called a ring laser) to generate its own gravitational field by its electromagnetic radiation...and if strong enough, a long cylinder of light can create "closed timelike curves," or CTCs.

CTCs don't break General Relativity. If you twist spacetime enough, the normal arrow of time for anything inside the light beam can be twisted into a loop.

This means one can travel along the loop from the past, to the present, and to the future. But at the end of the loop, the future reconnects with the past.

There have been many discussions of time travel in science fiction, of course. But I think the most appropriate reference for this article is the chronoscope from Legion of Time by the incomparable Golden Age giant Jack Williamson:

The hoarse whisper paused, and old Wil McLan limped to the side of the dome. His scarred, trembling hands lifted a black velvet cover from a rectangular block of some clear crystal mounted on the top of a metal cabinet.

“Here is the chronoscope,” he said. “The latest development of the instrument. Scansion depends upon a special curved field, through which a sub-etheric radiation is bent into the time-axis, projected forward, and reflected from electronic fields back to the instrument. A stereoscopic image is obtained within the crystal screen, through selective fluorescence to the beat frequencies of the interfering carrier waves projected at right angles from below. But I’ll show you Gyronchi.”

THE OLD MAN snapped a switch, manipulated dials at the end of the crystal block. It lit with a cloudy green. The green cleared, and a low cry escaped Lanning’s lips.

For, microscopically clear within the crystal, he saw a miniature world. A broad, silver river cut a fertile green plain dotted with villages. Beyond the river rose two hills...

(Read more about Jack Williamson's chronoscope)

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