Challenge Match: Druid42 vs adjensen: Is a Time Machine Possible? (TT series, Part 1)

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posted on Nov, 15 2012 @ 10:31 PM
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Time Travel. It's a major theme in Science Fiction, and a prevalent meme in modern society. Ask anyone if they believe in Time Travel, and you'll get a variety of responses.

I'd like to open this debate by propositioning that a Time Travel device is possible, an actual machine that you may enter, travel throughout history, both forwards and backwards, interacting in a tangible manner with your surroundings, and with returning to our present time, able to share your TT experiences.

Time travel has many paradoxes, at least in classical physics, but throughout this debate I wish to show that such paradoxes are resolvable within the current parameters of quantum physics. With such resolution, we'll see that humankind has the capacity to build such a device, yet we also must ponder, if such activity is freely accessible, who would be the ruling body of TT? Perhaps the human race is too immature to embrace such wide ranging implications.

Let's address the machine, in it's hypothetical form:

It wouldn't be a DeLorean, with a mad scientist at the helm.



It wouldn't be an H.G. Wells replica.



It would be a machine that utilizes quantum interference, powered by a quantum computer which is capable of doing computations in parallel in order to derive a past or future destination.

Let me regress for a brief moment, perhaps going off topic, but stating a few quick factoids:


On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the 1903 Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.


That's the date of the first powered flight. Mankind had achieved flight.

Advance through time a brief 66 years, and we have another milestone.


On this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong, aboard the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, along with Buzz Aldrin, touched down on the surface of the moon. Michael Collins waited aboard the Command Module, orbiting the moon.




To further digress, the first flight was in 1903, we had two world wars, and 66 years later the United States put a man on the moon. Tech leap or divergent information?

Technology went from a crude airplane, to a landing on the moon. That quickly, in a short 66 years. There were many advancements in the technology realm, from the computer being invented in (circa) 1937 to a WWW in (circa) 1980.

Computer processing technology has been expanding at an exponential rate. It will continue to do so until we have a quantum computer, and further into the debate I'll address the capabilities of such a device. More importantly, the effect of several quantum computers linked in parallel.

I'd like to emphasize the capabilities of humans, and progress made so far in human understanding of the world around us. Newton gave us classical physics, and Einstein relativity, which led to Heisenberg, Bohr, Hawkins, and honestly, a whole plethora of bright minds that continue to address the nature of reality around us.

Through the insights of the brightest minds, we begin to see evidence of Tachyons, particles that travel backwards in time, and through experimentation with the LHC, we begin to see elementary particles. We see through our huge devices what used to be theories, coming into fruition, understood in reality.

If we can go from earthbound flightiness to landing on the moon in a mere puff of time, it's only a matter of time before we pool our resources to create a machine that functions on quantum principles.

We experience time sequentially. One event leads to another. A time machine needs not function that way, and in fact, has the capacity to record all possible events.

So how does the interface work? Do you step inside a booth, tap a bunch of buttons to reveal a date, and push "enter", which activates the device? Hardly. Those are just stories.

I'll hand the debate over adjensen, so he may refute my position, bringing an alternate view to the table.




posted on Nov, 16 2012 @ 08:03 PM
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I'd like to begin by thanking Druid42 for what will surely be a deep debate subject, and for the ATS Debate Forum for hosting our tour through time.
 


You run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

"Time" by Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour


And thus is our relationship with time…

It is beyond unfortunate that Euclidean geometry describes time as the "Fourth Dimension", as it affords many non-physicists with the impression that it is no different than the previous three -- length, height and width, and can be traversed in a similar manner.

Witness the proclamation of the intrepid time traveller in this bit, as he describes being a "prisoner of the fourth dimension":



As Druid42 notes, time travel is, and has long been, the bailiwick of science fiction. Unfortunately for our time traveller George, that is where it will remain. It is not so much due to the laws of physics, which consigns other science fiction themes to unreality, so much as it is due to the fundamental structure of the universe.

In Newtonian physics, time is one dimensional, and contains all existence in a given moment. In other words, it is super-dimensional -- all of the first three dimensions are contained in the fourth. We know that one can move within the fourth dimension, as we, and everything else, is demonstrably moving from moment to moment, on a 1:1 basis (one minute equals one minute.) Thus, time travel would seem to be simply be a matter of being able to control the direction and ratio of that movement.

Unfortunately, this is a misnomer, as time is not a medium, but rather a measure. It is the means by which we can differentiate the state of existence from one moment to the next. There is no actual movement, merely the change of sets of observations. If time is one dimensional, how does one move about in it? Clearly, one cannot, any more than one can move in one dimensional geometry. Thus, it is time that "moves", not us, which is what one would expect with such a definition.

Moving from Newton to Einstein physics, under Special Relativity, the relationship between these four dimensions is described as Minkowski space-time, which is similar to the Newtonian view, but assumes non-curved space-time and directly incorporates time as a component of a single entity. The curved space of General relativity intermeshes time and space completely, causing objects to move along a curved path, which we know to be gravity, but in both Special and General Relativity, while movement in the spatial dimensions is free, movement in time is one directional. To move backward in time by means of temporal relativity would require negative speed, which is a logical impossibility.

So, in both Newtonian and Relativistic physics, which are the actual disciplines that describe what time is, we can see that time travel relies on both a misconception (that time is a medium) and an impossibility -- the need for negative speed or negative energy (not to be confused with anti-matter, which is not negative energy.)


Through the insights of the brightest minds, we begin to see evidence of Tachyons, particles that travel backwards in time, and through experimentation with the LHC, we begin to see elementary particles.


Unfortunately, I must point out that, like time skipping Deloreans and British police boxes, tachyons are fictional.


Mind you, the theory was a proper theory in the sense that it was mathematically consistent, and also because it predicted certain observable consequences-namely, that if tachyons existed they would emit a certain type of radiation (Cerenkov radiation) in a vacuum. This radiation was searched for, and none was found. So, after a flurry of excitement, physicists lost interest in tachyons and went on to more massive hypotheses, such as black holes. As far as physicists are concerned, tachyons do not exist. (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)


I shall close my first post with a joke that I recently ran across and literally lol'd

What do we want?
Time Travel!
When do we want it?
Irrelevant!



posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 03:01 PM
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Time Travel is certainly outside the realm of Classical physics, and barely addressed by Relativity theories, so we need to address currently understood models of Quantum Mechanics in order to provide an interface between separate schools of thought. While it is true that a Tachyon is a putative particle, at one point in time the Higgs Boson was also just theoretical particle, until recent discovery by the LHC at Cern. The detection of a Tachyon would by it's very nature be very difficult to prove, a particle that resides just above the speed of light. The multi-verse could certainly be mapped to a set of points, once the constraints of our computing ability is overcome.

What is important to stress here is that we can use a mathematical formula to indicate the existence of a particle with particular properties, and give it an arbitrary name, and not until it it rigorously proven by scientific analysis does it actually become a reality. In doing so, we lend ourselves closer to understanding the nature of the world around us, and begin to address possibilities that have been present in our imagination for generations.

The focus of this debate is on the possibility of a Time Machine, so I'd like to posit a few requirements for such a machine to exist. These requirements are currently being addressed by humanity, and the results are rather interesting. We would need:

1. A very powerful computer to process the event. Introducing the Quantum Computer as the best candidate for the job.

Traditional computer process information as bits that can be a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers utilize the potential of quantum mechanics by making its bits a 0, a 1, or a 0 and a 1 simultaneously. This “superposition” lets it do many calculations at once, where a traditional computer can only perform one.
There is a Canadian company called D-Wave which has the first commercially available quantum computer, and is set to release a 512 qbit version by the end of this year. Add Artifical Intelligence to this computing capability, and the possibilities are mind-boggling.


2. The ability to transmit information over vast distances. Chinese Scientists Successfully Teleport Data.

The experiment was carried out by scientists at Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences in Anhui, China. During its course, the scientists took two quantum entangled particles. One was sent to a distant quantum memory node while the other was present at the lab. The scientists then altered the state of the photon in the lab and it directly affected the state of the distant photon. This is a very exciting development for the world of quantum computing as well as those researching on faster modes of communication transmission. If indeed this progress can be translated into greater, more sophisticated system, it would mean that we can create the fastest data-transmission machines in the near future.
It would appear the only restrictions on this technology are the limitations imposed by the speed of light, but future experiments may produce instantaneous transfers.

3. An actual machine to translate information about the current state of the person being "sent" through time. Here's where the medical field comes into play, with a piece of modern technology that could be retro-fitted with a quantum computer to serve our time traveling purposes. Enter magnetic resonance imaging. While serving the medical aspect of modeling the human body admirably, there is an unasked question of how far body imaging will proceed.

An MRI system can create axial images as well as sagitall (slicing the bread side-to-side lengthwise) and coronal (think of the layers in a layer cake) images, or any degree in between, without the patient ever moving.
Will it be possible in the future to be placed inside one of these machines, have your whole body mapped into digital form, and transmitted by Quantum Tunneling to another location in space and time?

Given the bright future of Quantum Computing, I see no reason why such an event couldn't occur, and given the computational power of such a device, what would be the limits?

It would appear to be our own imagination.

There are two aspects of this topic that I have neglected due to space constraints, but which will be continued in my next post:

1. Once transmitted digitally, how is the body re-assembled into it's original biological form?
2. How does the body return, if the transmitting unit is at the origin point?



posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 09:33 PM
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I am a bit confused by my opponent's last post, as he seems to be describing a "Star Trek" transporter, not a time machine. While such technology might be feasible, that would be another discussion.


While it is true that a Tachyon is a putative particle, at one point in time the Higgs Boson was also just theoretical particle, until recent discovery by the LHC at Cern. The detection of a Tachyon would by it's very nature be very difficult to prove, a particle that resides just above the speed of light.


No, as I noted in the previous post, tachyons simply do not exist. They were theorized, but that theory included the means by which they could be detected, the emission of Cerenkov radiation in a vacuum. However, no such radiation was discovered by any test, so the uniform conclusion of physicists is that tachyons do not exist, and the original theory has been discarded.

Unfortunately, some non-physicists, either unaware of this fact or intentionally ignoring it, continue to keep the notion of a tachyon alive, whether in works of fiction or of speculative non-fiction. It is similar to non-physicists who use misunderstanding or misinterpretation of quantum phenomenon to justify the existence of "magic" (witness the film What the (Bleep) Do We Know?, the current poster child for the abuse of pseudo-science to promote impossible actualities.)

 

In my last post, we looked at time, as viewed by the scientific discipline of physics, noting that, while time is referred to as the Fourth Dimension, it is vastly different from the first three. Rather than dimensions that allow free movement, the Fourth is not a medium that affords direction in any way other than forward.

In order to determine why this is the case, we need to switch gears and examine the phenomenon from the position of the philosophy of physics. From a philosophical standpoint, there are two main ways in which time is viewed.

The first, which derived from philosophical realism, comes from Sir Isaac Newton and holds that time is a fundamental part of the universe and is simply the means by which events occur in sequence. Sequence, of course, implies order, and a singular direction. We build a house by a sequence of foundation, walls and roof, not roof, then walls, then foundation.


Absolute, true and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external, and by another name is called duration: relative, apparent and common time, is some sensible and external (whether accurate of unequable) measure of duration by the means of motion, which is commonly used instead of true time; such as an hour, a day, a month, a year. (Isaac Newton, cited in Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time by Tim Maudlin, pg 13.)


The second view is that time is simply a structural framework, constructed by the observer, in order to be able to frame one's views. Just as we have invented measurement of space in order to be able to quantify distances, we have invented measurement of time in order to be able to quantify durations. By this perspective, time is not really anything -- it is merely the intellectual imposition of order.


Space and time are the framework within which the mind is constrained to construct its experience of reality. (Immanuel Kant)


We can now see the problem with time travel from a philosophical standpoint, which reinforces the previously noted fact that time is not a medium, something that we "travel" through. Rather time is merely a means of measurement, and if anything moves in relation to the other, it is time itself, not reality.

This effectively closes the door on the scientific and philosophical support for a time machine which allows a person to go forward and backward in time, able to interact with the time traveler's surroundings. Like it or not, time marches ever on, in one direction.



posted on Nov, 19 2012 @ 07:37 AM
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Ah, my opponent, the eternal skeptic. Before continuing and closing my position, I'd like to refute a few of his points:



he seems to be describing a "Star Trek" transporter, not a time machine


The two would by nature work in a similar manner, one positing across space, and the other, across time. The mechanism by which they function would also by nature "copy" the person, and transmit their "essence", (a complete digital copy down to the sub-atomic details) and while similar, the time machine version would be more complex, dealing with a wider array of variables. In truth, a teleporter, which I'm sure my opponent has no problem with, would still transmit across time, but in such in a tighter field, and only moments into the future.



However, no such radiation was discovered by any test, so the uniform conclusion of physicists is that tachyons do not exist


Of course you cannot detect a superluminal particle within a closed system. To measure a particle traveling faster than the speed of light requires equipment that hasn't been devised yet. To think that merely since we don't have the proper testing apparatus, a particle doesn't, and cannot exist, is absurd. Perhaps he'll say the same of Superbardyons, or perhaps rule out any theoretical particle that mathematically exhibits a behavior that can't be physically detected?



we have invented measurement of space in order to be able to quantify distances, we have invented measurement of time in order to be able to quantify durations. By this perspective, time is not really anything -- it is merely the intellectual imposition of order.


So then perhaps Einstein was wrong with Special Relativity, and if time is a mere sequential measurement, then odd effects such as time dilation cannot exist. However:


This theory has a wide range of consequences which have been experimentally verified,[4] including counter-intuitive ones such as length contraction, time dilation and relativity of simultaneity.


I would like to think that our understanding of the multiverse is incomplete, and that we need to remain open-minded about future discoveries, as well as reexamine what we hold to be evident. At one point the world was thought to be flat, and yet today we know that not to be true. By embracing thoughts not currently in our own worldview is what has allowed the greatest minds of the past to comprehend new discoveries.



To finish off on previous questions:


1. Once transmitted digitally, how is the body re-assembled into it's original biological form?

That is a hurdle that will need to be overcome once we have gained a better understanding of the process. While it's easy to conceive of ways to digitize information down to the quantum level, our level of understanding of inverting that information back into biological form is not completely understood. However, if in a mere 66 years we can invent flight and land on the moon, I'm confident that someday, perhaps with the assistance of an artificially intelligent quantum computer, we will gain a better understanding of quantum entanglement, and of the very make up of matter itself. Our bodies are composed of atoms, which in turn are made up of sub-atomic particles, which we are now just beginning to understand. Within my own lifetime, I have watched the invention of the computer, of from which sprang the world wide web, and with the advent of global sharing of ideas, we now have all of humanity working on the questions about life and our existence.


2. How does the body return, if the transmitting unit is at the origin point?

Here is another unfortunate circumstance of the functioning of a time machine, either the whole machine travels with the person, or the person themselves is "transmitted". In the case of the former, the device would need an individual power supply. Say a "zero point energy" module. In the latter case, a two unit system, one could not travel back further than the creation of the first unit. Time will tell how we solve these problems. Until then, anything is possible.

In closing, I wish to thank adjensen for yet another very interesting debate. Special thanks go out to the Staff, and to the readers, for taking the time to consider such a controversial topic. Barring my opponents views of an immutable definition of time, flowing solely in one direction, I hope I have succeeded in presenting an alternate view of a world less strict, more open to the possibility of comprehension, one in which we are not bound so tightly by existing paradigms. For, in the quest for knowledge, we may find the answers to the questions we ask. Thank You.



posted on Nov, 19 2012 @ 09:03 AM
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In truth, a teleporter, which I'm sure my opponent has no problem with, would still transmit across time, but in such in a tighter field, and only moments into the future.

Well, I'm not sure that it would be fair to say that I'd have "no problem" with a teleporter, though it is more feasible than a time machine, which could not work in a similar fashion anyway (a transmitter is one thing, but how does one put a receiver in the past or future?)


To measure a particle traveling faster than the speed of light requires equipment that hasn't been devised yet.

Again, no one expects to detect a faster than light particle, but there is every expectation that, if such a thing exists, its residual radiation trace would be detected. In its absence, physicists have concluded that tachyons do not exist.


So then perhaps Einstein was wrong with Special Relativity, and if time is a mere sequential measurement, then odd effects such as time dilation cannot exist.

The effects of time under Special and General Relativity are, indeed, interesting, but they represent the complex relationships in curved space at speeds which approach the speed of light. As I noted earlier, temporal relativity affects the observer's observation of time, but, once again, to travel into the "future" with this method is no different than, say, using cryogenics to slow the effects of time on one's body and (hopefully) wake up "in the future" (which is still the present for the observer.) In addition, using relativity to travel to the past would require "negative speed", which is a logical impossibility. (Bear in mind that "logical impossibility" doesn't mean "technical challenge" or "something we don't understand", but something that is an oxymoron, like a "square circle".)

My opponent's remaining points are of no consequence to this discussion, as they are of no relevance to the possibility of a time machine, because physics, both classic and relative, demonstrates that time travel in the sense laid out in the OP, is not simply a technical challenge, but is literally impossible.

However, we have one more piece of evidence to present, particularly for those who might be lulled into the "magic" explanation of the uninformed quantum mechanic perspective I referenced earlier.

In my first post, I closed with a joke, but it was really a foreshadowing of the logical argument that closes the door on the time machine argument. I repost it now to make my point:

What do we want?
Time Travel!
When do we want it?
Irrelevant!

Why is the timeframe of the receipt of a time machine of no relevance? Because once it exists, ever and anywhere, it exists always and everywhere. It doesn't matter if such a device isn't invented for a million billion years, because it takes away any limitations on where and when it can be.

The inevitable plot hole of any time travel story is that with such a device, anything in any time can be done. Screwed something up? No worries, just go back five minutes earlier and inform yourself of the error. That didn't work, either? Go back five minutes before that. Repeat until you get it right, because you always have five more minutes.

With that in mind, one is left to wonder… where are all the time travelers? Apart from goofy theories which are easily disproven and frauds who are uncovered once fully investigated, history appears bereft of time travelers, whether children on history field trips, people looking up old relatives or lost loves, or anyone making any attempt to better the world of 2012 (or 1944 or 1862) through their actions.

Given that many of the horrors of the 20th and 21st Centuries, such as the Holocaust, Stalinist purges, Chinese Cultural Revolution or 9/11 could have been prevented with a time machine and a bullet or three, one is left with the conclusion that either our descendants are amoral deviants who allow millions to die needlessly, or that time travel, forward and backward, with the ability of the traveler to interact with their surroundings, does not, and will not ever, exist.

I, of course, concur with the latter. That this is in congruence with the laws of physics and the nature of time should be of no surprise.

 

Thank you, once again, to my opponent for a spirited debate on a complex and controversial subject, and for our readers and judges for their time (har har har).



posted on Nov, 24 2012 @ 03:49 PM
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We have winner!

The judgements are as follows. This was a tie, so a third judge was asked to participate.


'First round both debaters opened very strongly, both using very good scientific logic and the steady progess of mankind as strong bases for an opener, while both maintaining a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach to Hollywood’s portrayal of time travel and how easy it seems. For the first round, due to a better explanation of the cons of the realities of time travel, the round goes to Adjensen.

Second round, Druid42 attempted to explain how we as humans could go about achieving the possibility of time travel, but as it would seem didn’t have the room to extrapolate the theory properly, instead delivering a more ‘teleportation’ based theory than one of time travel. Adjensen however in the second round recovered somewhat strongly, expanding on his previous post regarding the impossibilities of time manipulation and dimension given any forms of technology. Even though the information in the second round was only marginally more than in the first, the second round goes to Adjensen for a once again more concise reply.

Last round Druid42 began to address the issues his opponent had raised, and gave some very strong retorts to Adjensen’s ideas in the second round. He recovered strongly by bringing the facts to the table and opening the possibility of how time travel could actually work.
However, Adjensen had one last card to play, and this statement;

The inevitable plot hole of any time travel story is that with such a device, anything in any time can be done. Screwed something up? No worries, just go back five minutes earlier and inform yourself of the error. That didn't work, either? Go back five minutes before that. Repeat until you get it right, because you always have five more minutes.

Is very convincing to the con stance of time travel.

A very difficult debate to judge given the complex nature of the topic, but adjensen is the winner on this one.'



Although both contestants brought up valid points, I feel that Druid42 has prevailed. While Druid42 has shown that the future is full of possibilities and such a machine/concept is a future possibility, adjensen maintained a present sense of technology not looking toward the future of possibilities. Their arguments are based on what it is we know and understand today without giving leeway to what we may understand tomorrow.

As we do not understand how such a machine would impact our past/future we can only argue against by the standards we now have the ability to grasp and I don't feel that they made a good enough argument to nullify the possibility as a future occurrence.



wont profess to understand exactly what these two great debaters were talking about, but overall the case adjensen built seemed to be more coherent. I actually also learned something about the possibilities of time travel from adjensen who was debating against time travel. This part especially sold me to adjensens side:

"Why is the timeframe of the receipt of a time machine of no relevance? Because once it exists, ever and anywhere, it exists always and everywhere. It doesn't matter if such a device isn't invented for a million billion years, because it takes away any limitations on where and when it can be".

He did well in showing the logical inconsistences inherent in Druids side.

What I liked best about Druids debate is the idea of first proving that instant movement of matter through space looks to become a possibility in the future and then extrapolating from that the idea of movement through time. He buffered this point with "Rose's Law", showing the exponential progress of mankind. This was a brilliant move that swayed me to his side of the debate for a short while.

I would prefer Druids side to be true (wouldn't we all?) but at the end of the Debate I feel that adjensen made the slightly stronger case.



Congratulations to Adjensen for a well deserved win. Also thank you to our challenger Druid42.





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