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'Dr. Who' in Real Life? Time Travel Might Actually Be Possible, Mathematically Speaking

Apr 28, 2017 02:48 PM EDT

Time traveling, like in "Dr. Who" and other fictional tales, may actually turn into reality. Researchers from the University of British Columbia have developed a new mathematical model showing that time traveling is not so fictional after all.

Mathematics and physics instructor Ben Tippet, from UBC's Okanagan Campus, has devised a formula that describes a method for time travel.

"People think of time travel as something as fiction," said Tippet, whose field of expertise is Einstein's theory of general relativity, in a press release. "And we tend to think it's not possible because we don't actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible."

For the new mathematical model, Tippet considered the four dimensions as a space-time continuum where different directions are connected. Einstein's general theory of relativity states that gravitational fields are caused by distortions in the fabric of space and time. Basing on this theory, Tippet believes that the curvature of space-time accounts for the curved orbits of the planets.

According to Tippet, the planets and stars would move in a straight line on a "flat" or uncurved, space-time. However, space-time geometry becomes curved in the vicinity of a massive star, making the trajectories of nearby planets to follow the curvature and bend around the star.

"The time direction of the space-time surface also shows curvature. There is evidence showing the closer to a black hole we get, time moves slower," Tippet said in a statement. "My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time -- to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line. That circle takes us back in time."

Tippet developed a mathematical model of the Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (TARDIS), describing it as a bubble of space-time geometry that's capable of carrying its contents backward and forward through space and time while touring a large circular path. The speed of the bubble, which exceeds the speed of light at times, makes it possible to travel backwards in time.

Despite being mathematically feasible, Tippet noted that time traveling might take decades or even centuries to become a reality. Material that can bend space-time, called exotic matters, are yet to be discovered.

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