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The Time Machine

With the idea of a traversable wormhole now established as a possibility, given the existence of exotic matter, there now exists the possibility of creating a time machine. In his book, Black Holes and Time Warps, Kip Thorne explains how he and his wife can conspire to make a time machine from a single wormhole. He first asks us to assume that we are a sufficiently advanced society such that we can create and manipulate wormholes. Or at least that such a society exists and has made us such a wormhole. This established, he then assumes that he has a small wormhole through hyperspace with a tunnel of say half-a-meter in length. He has both mouths of the wormhole in his living room and time is connected through the wormhole such that if he sticks his hand in one mouth it will instantly appear coming out of the other mouth across the room. His wife, Carolee, now takes one mouth with her into the family space ship and Kip remains in the living room with the other mouth. They hold hands through the wormhole (see figure 6) and Carolee takes off with the space ship. She accelerates to relativistic speeds and goes off into space for 6 hours. All the while she and Kip can look through the wormhole and see each other. After 6 hours she turns the ship around and heads back to Earth which takes another 6 hours. After 12 hours have passed Kip will look through the wormhole still holding hands with Carolee and see that she has landed and is now out in the front yard. So he will let go and start toward the door to go out and greet her when he notices that she is not out there yet. The relativistic speeds and accelerations that she has encountered have dilated her time so that in Kip's view she is still out in space on her journey holding hands with him. So Kip waits for her arrival...he waits 10 years. When she finally arrives he goes out to greet her. He opens the door of the craft and finds her not having aged more than 12 hours since her departure with her hand still in the wormhole. He looks into the wormhole and sees himself 10 years ago holding hands with Carolee. The wormhole is now a time machine! Kip can step through the wormhole and go back as far as 10 years, to the creation of the time machine but not any earlier. The Kip on the other end can also step through the wormhole and come forward 10 years. H.G. Wells eat your heart out! [ Traversable Wormhole ]

When Kip Thorne first realized that such a situation was possible he wondered if some physical process could destroy his wormhole before it became a time machine. The first thing to occur to him was that when the wormhole became a time machine electro-magnetic waves could propagate through it and interfere with themselves. They could interfere in such a way as to cause constructive interference and thereby strengthen their amplitude. This could continue until there was a beam of radiation between the two mouths of the wormhole that was powerful enough to destroy it. But alas the time machine is saved by that strange exotic matter. As was mentioned before, the tension inside the wormhole would defocus any electro-magnetic waves passing through it (Figure 4). It turns out that this defocusing is just enough so as to stop the radiation beam from getting strong enough to destroy the time machine. However there is another effect that could have the strength to destroy it. That is the electro-magnetic vacuum fluctuations. These fluctuations are quantum mechanical in nature and have behavior such that they could pile up on themselves in a similar manner as described with the E-M waves. They would be defocused by the wormhole but their quantum mechanical nature could allow them to refocus and continue their pile up. Whether or not they could reach a strength great enough to destroy the wormhole is a matter of quantum gravity for which as yet there is no theory to describe. Thus there does remain doubt that the time machine can be constructed and used before it destroys itself. Only time will tell.


      Figure 6: Kip Thorne and his Wife, Carolee construct a Time Machine

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