The Definition of Time
Before I explain why time travel is impossible, I first need to describe what this elusive word ‘time’ refers to. Well, if we look at a dictionary, then what we discover is that the word time has many conflicting definitions.
But what all of these definitions have in common is that they all ultimately refer to motion. Time is a dynamic concept, not a static one. Time is a measurement of motion. Time either refers to “past, present and future” (an abstract description of objects moving from their ‘past location’ to their ‘present location’) or to our measurements of “seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc, etc.” (Which is based off of the earth’s motion around the Sun). We used this concept to invent sundials, hourglasses and clocks.
Time is an extremely common word. In fact it’s one of the most commonly used words in the English language. Yet this word is actually defined very sloppily and inconsistently. Time is a vague word that has very little meaning. A much better word to use when discussing this subject is ‘motion’. The word motion refers to the changing locations of objects. Unlike ‘time’ the word motion has a very clear meaning.
Reverse Motion is Impossible
So, when someone talks about ‘time travel’ then what’s really being proposed is the idea of either ‘reversing motion’ (so-called time travel to the past) or ‘speeding up motion’ (so-called time travel to the future).
It is definitely impossible to reverse motion. In this picture let’s say that this eraser is at ‘location A’.
And now in this picture I’ve moved the eraser to ‘location B’.
The only way to get the eraser back to location A again is to pick it up and move it back there again. It’s as simple as that. The only way an object can get back to its ‘past location’ is if it moves back there again. “The past” is not recorded. There is no magic movie camera that’s filming everything.
“Past, present and future” are very misleading concepts. In reality there are just things moving around right now. Nothing else. It is our memory that confuses us into thinking otherwise. We have the ability to memorize the previous locations of objects. But the universe does not posses any such ability because the universe (as a whole) is not fully conscious. Memory requires a conscious observer. No memory = no past.
As for ‘speeding up motion’; well, it’s certainly possible to cause individual objects to move faster. But it is definitely not possible to cause all of the matter in the universe to move faster. No one possesses the ability to perform such a magical feat.
So-called ‘time travel’ is an irrational idea that has no basis in reality. The reason why time travel is impossible is because there’s no such thing as time. Humans invented the concept of time. ‘Time’ has nothing to do with reality. Reality consists only of matter and the word ‘motion’ refers to the changing locations of matter. No time = no time travel.
© 2013 DE N0V0
sofiagray on January 09, 2018:
Time, is most important part of life. No one handle this. But you can be manage. To the right management of the time is helps you to make a good life. It is must that you manage you time when you travelling anywhere. To manage food, travel, rest all have to be manage properly.
DE N0V0 (author) on January 03, 2018:
In a previous comment I said that I don’t agree with the panpsychist theory. I’ve since changed my mind on that subject since panpsychism appears to be the only way to explain consciousness. However, just because all matter has subjective sensation/experience does not mean that the past is recorded.
Tofer King on May 06, 2016:
To start, I agree time is an idea conceived by man. Time does not exist physically in the universe and therefore no one can traverse it because it isn't there.
But I wonder if it is possible to recreate a moment in time (and the moment wouldn't end up being a nanosecond necessarily.)
Take for example a domino display. All of the dominoes get aligned perfectly and when a force is applied to the first one and it tumbles, the rest follow suit.
Those dominoes can be reset in the same precise manner, the same force applied and the show can be seen again.
Is that not recreating a moment in time? All of the dominoes tumbling down the same way they did the time before?
At the molecular level the second falling of the dominoes is not exactly the same as the first falling of the dominoes, but it doesn't matter, because the applied force can overcome any shifting the molecules have made in the dominoes and the surface of the floor they are on and the result is the same.
Does recreating a moment in time mean one must make certain all the molecules were exactly in the same position at the start and the end of the recreated moment?
Which brings me to the second question. If it is decided all the molecules have to be reset to exactly as they were before, do all the molecules of the entire universe need to be reset? Doesn't it depend upon how many things you want to include in the scope the recreated event?
If we go back to the dominoes example, does it really matter if the molecules in the room next door aren't in the same exact position as before? Isn't the event small enough that it is unlikely molecules in the room next door will affect the falling of the dominoes?
JensS on February 16, 2016:
The only way we would be able to time travel is if we were aware of everything in the universe (where everything is going where everything was) and had the ability to control the entire universe.
Then we would be able to recreate a universe, which is identical to the universe in 1982. Though this would more of an emulation of time travel than actual time travel. Because, as the author of the post wrote, the universe does not remember time.
DE N0V0 (author) on January 10, 2016:
“I know you are thinking I am mad”
Shresth Gupta.. on January 09, 2016:
Yes time travelling is possible.
think you move 5 steps in right and take 5 sec . but 7 sec before you Dont know
you go to right side if 5 sec before you did another thing in future you get invisible....!
this proves that future is fixed..
and this also proves that past is fixed..!
By using Einsteins theory and travelled faster then light you are faster then anything in universe even your time is only in your universe..!
and your time is also faster then anything...∆
this proves that time travelling is possible...!!!!!! If you travel faster then light..
And if you get slower speed then 0 km/h you go to past..
I know you are thinking I am mad how can we reach slow speed then 0 km/h but you can.....!!!!
You know that every one on earth already at 108000 km/h speed because of earth's revolution around sun....∆
If you reach 0 km/h you are slower then anyone on earth...!!
That's why you go to past...
But one question also why time only goes forward..? Not back.!
I have answer of this !!!!!
Take a glass cup and throw it.
It can break but it can not get reversed and fixed why? Because from bigbang all the energies in the universe is spreading !
I'm great na? Yeah...! + +
DE N0V0 (author) on November 12, 2015:
Thanks, glad you liked it.
As for 'forward time travel', this is also not possible because it would require that we somehow speed up the motion of all the matter that comprises the infinite universe. What physical mechanism could possibly cause that to happen? There is none and therefore it’s impossible.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on November 12, 2015:
Short, but to the point. You gave a reasonable explanation of why time travel, especially backward time travel, is impossible. I relate to your way of thinking. I also wrote a hub about the concept of time travel where I show proof that backward is not and never will be possible.
Forward is another issue. As long as we have matter, and matter can move through space, we are forever traveling forward through the concept we call time.
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on May 08, 2015:
We want to commend you for writing this hub. What a great idea it was to send it back for publication in the early 21st century. Our records indicate that it will help discourage people from even thinking about the concept of time travel for several centuries. Thank you for helping to ensure that no one will seriously consider the possibility of time travel before the proper time. It's folks like you who make the work of the Time Patrol easy.
DE N0V0 (author) on February 21, 2015:
Hey Al, the only ‘wormholes’ are the ones that worms dig in the dirt. There’s no reason to think that a 4D unimaginable pseudo-object called ‘spacetime’ exists. It’s completely illogical and there’s no evidence. You cannot make ‘wormholes’ through something which doesn’t exist. So no, wormhole based time travel is not possible because there’s no such thing as wormholes, time or spacetime. These are all nonsense invented by humans. Time is a useful concept but it’s completely artificial and has nothing to do with reality.
Al on February 21, 2015:
Very interesting read.
I'd like to know what you think about worm hole based time travel, as this seems to be the only thing I hear scientists saying as a way to travel into the past.
DE N0V0 (author) on November 13, 2014:
There’s no reason to think that there’s any ‘fourth dimension’. Matter and space only have three dimensions: length, width and height.
“So the hypothesis is that if you leave earth at relativistic speed and come back after 1 year, the time on earth would have moved by, say, 5 years.”
That’s very questionable. But if so, then what this would mean is that you, your spaceship and your brain have been caused to move more slowly than the matter on earth. All very physical, there’s no need to introduce any fourth dimension to explain this idea. That said, the very thought experiment itself is highly questionable and definitely not proven.
Abhinav on November 13, 2014:
I agree to author's basic premises that time travel is not possible. Which is to say that it's impossible that a person can go in past or future and meet his own younger or older self (Back to the Future kind). However, I think that forward 'Space-Time' travel is possible (a fundamental derivative from theories of relativity). This is because Space-Time travel is not really Time Travel but a physical movement in the four dimension space. So the hypothesis is that if you leave earth at relativistic speed and come back after 1 year, the time on earth would have moved by, say, 5 years. Now this is not time-travel but space-time travel because Earth doesn't contain an older copy of you. You won't find your older self, because you are own older self. The 5 years on earth have gone by without your presence. So when you come back from space voyage, you have just arrived in a different coordinates of space-time.
Guest on November 11, 2014:
I believe time travel is impossible. But would it be possible to, using the right machine and a massive amount of energy, move every molecule back to it's original position to simulate time travel. This would require a machine that could record every molecule in a given space and be able to move said molecules, and would require a ton of energy; I guess it's still a moot point but interesting to think about
DE N0V0 (author) on November 07, 2014:
So then I take it you are not able to justify the irrational/contradictory comments you've been making. The way to grow wiser is by using your ability to reason. If you don't logically think things over then you will never understand anything. You will wander through life in a haze of abstractions and nonsense.
David on November 07, 2014:
It seems you have chosen your place in this world rather early, my friend. Thus you have decided that your understanding of this world would stop at the limit of your senses. There are things far beyond your perceptions and understanding. In my existence I have seen much, yet I cannot claim I have seen enough. Seek to grow wiser than whom you are.
DE N0V0 (author) on November 05, 2014:
"You said that" if there is no memory, there is no past."
"You also said that "If all erasers were gone, save a picture, there still would be no erasers"."
Yes, just because people would remember erasers when they look at the picture does not mean that the actual erasers would exist. They would only exist if people started making new erasers again. You have this strange idea that a picture of an object is the same thing as the actual object itself. But that is not true at all. I can draw a picture of a unicorn, but that doesn't mean that actual unicorns exist. Unicorns do not have a location in respect to other objects. Unicorns, gods, fairies, etc. are objects that don't exist. In order for something to 'exist', it needs to have location. If it has no location, then it doesn't exist.
"if there were no men, there would be no God."
Yes, that's right. Because God was invented by man.
"the Egyptian Dynasty is happening as this very precise moment, and so is the first human trip to Jupiter."
No, you misunderstood me. Apparently you thought that what I'm saying is that 'all moments are happening right now'. But no, that's not what I said at all. What I'm saying is extremely simple. I'm saying that there is no past, present or future. There's just things moving to different locations in space. That's all. Nothing else. Understand now?
David on November 05, 2014:
I am saying that there is no time. But I am not saying there is no past, present or future. I am saying that past, present and future are concepts that refer to motion.
Before going on, I will ask you a question.
You said that" if there is no memory, there is no past." You also said that "If all erasers were gone, save a picture, there still would be no erasers".
If we add these two beliefs of yours together, this would mean that if there were no men, there would be no God.
If no one were here to preserve the existence of God, there would be no God, as there are no physical manifestations of God in existence. Is that what you believe?
Now, you are the one full of contradictions.
If to you there is "just a bunch of objects moving to different locations", then you will agree that these objects do no move over an advancing time scale -- since there is no measurable notion of time. Correct?
If that's the case,you will also agree that these objects are moving simultaneously, regardless of "when" they have moved -- again, since there is no time.
So according to this principle, the Egyptian Dynasty is happening as this very precise moment, and so is the first human trip to Jupiter.
Why couldn't we just step inside these moments that are happening now?
DE N0V0 (author) on November 04, 2014:
"none of us hold material proof of our assertions."
Proof of what? If someone claims that the past is recorded, then the burden of proof is on them. They're making a very fantastic and absurd claim which has no evidence to support it.
"Should all erasers in the world disappear simultaneously, and the only proof of an eraser's existence becomes your picture, then an eraser still exists."
Nope, only the picture exists. The erasers would all be gone and would therefore 'not exist'. Very simple.
"life as a uni-dimensional concept"
A one dimensional concept? Mind elaborating on that?
"since there is no past and no future as there is no concept of time, only motion, it's theoretically possible that no instant is ever lost in the past, and exists as an alternative present to the current present"
This is very contradictory. If there is NO PAST then that obviously means that it is NOT "theoretically possible that no instant is ever lost in the PAST" Why? Because there is no past.
I honestly don't think that what you're saying makes any sense. On the one hand, you're saying that there is no past, future or time (which I agree with). But then on the other hand, you're saying that it's "theoretically possible that no instant is ever lost in the past, and exists as an alternative present to the current present". Don't you see how that's a blatant contradiction?
No past or future = no traveling to past or future. Very simple.
In reality, there's just a bunch of objects moving to different locations. I know that might sound boring. But that's just the way things are.
David on November 04, 2014:
Well, nothing discussed here can be flawed as none of us hold material proof of our assertions. You may however say that you disagree with me. And that's because you keep looking at things on a linear perspective.
"That eraser only exists at its current location. Not the locations it was at when I took those photos."
We have learned to understand and interact with things based on their observable material qualities. Should all erasers in the world disappear simultaneously, and the only proof of an eraser's existence becomes your picture, then an eraser still exists. Only, it has lost its physical properties to become something else.
Looking at life as a uni-dimensional concept is what's flawed.
Now you would be correct saying that, going forward, our life - this life - doesn't have any recorded frames. However since there is no past and no future as there is no concept of time, only motion, it's theoretically possible that no instant is ever lost in the past, and exists as an alternative present to the current present.
This would mean that time travel does not require you to "advance" or "go back" on a linear scale. You might just displace yourself in the "now" and this "now" becomes something else. You have just moved from point A to point B, instantaneously. And it happens point B is in our "past".
DE N0V0 (author) on November 03, 2014:
"You cannot touch this eraser, and yet it exists. There IS an eraser there. You can't say otherwise."
That eraser only exists at its current location. Not the locations it was at when I took those photos. We can say that those pictures of the eraser at those locations exist, but the eraser itself only exists at its current location.
"If you can create a device that allows you to jump from frame 30 to frame 1 in a movie, then you can create a device that allows you to jump from frame 30 to frame 1 in life. We just need to figure out how to move position from frame 30 to frame 1."
Except that 'life' doesn't have any recorded 'frames'. Unless you're proposing that God has a magic movie camera that films and records everything. In reality the frames of a movie reel are just more matter moving to different locations just like everything else. So I'm sorry to say that your thoughts on this subject seem to be rather flawed.
David on November 03, 2014:
We have all agreed that there is no time, only motion.
Only, the original poster - with his eraser example - gave away the principle that's behind the solution of time travel: "The only way an object can get back to its ‘past location’ is if it moves back there again."
Now THAT is smart. Let me explain how.
Looking at these pictures, normally we assume that the object has changed state thanks to an exterior intervention: we assume it goes from being immobile to mobile, moves a certain distance, then goes from mobile to immobile -- all of this (we assume) due to intervention of a hand. But picturing this in our brains still calls to the notion of time: there has been displacement over time, and this displacement hasn't been recorded so we can't go back.
Well let's competely remove the notion of time from the eraser example above, and take another look.
1) In both photos shown there is no hand, yet the eraser is clearly shown as being in two different places at the same time (there are two different pictures, one with the eraser at A, and another at B). There was no movement, yet the eraser is in two different places.
2. You cannot touch this eraser, and yet it exists. There IS an eraser there. You can't say otherwise.
What you are looking at is two different frames of a movie simultaneously.
You are able to freely go from the first one to the second, and vice-versa. Well technically, you ARE time traveling. There is an eraser, and it moved. And it went back. And oh, it moved again.
But no! You say. That's not time travel - we didn't actually go back in time.
To this I answer: Read the first sentence of this post. Then come back here and read on.
There is no time, only *what we perceive* as motion. To us, movement looks like a continuous flow. It's not. It is a succession of still pictures, just like a movie reel.
If you can create a device that allows you to jump from frame 30 to frame 1 in a movie, then you can create a device that allows you to jump from frame 30 to frame 1 in life.
We just need to figure out how to move position from frame 30 to frame 1.
Tray-Tray on September 22, 2014:
that is so true that you say that because no memory=no past
Eddie on September 17, 2014:
"So-called ‘time travel’ is an irrational idea that has no basis in reality. The reason why time travel is impossible is because there’s no such thing as time. Humans invented the concept of time. ‘Time’ has nothing to do with reality. Reality consists only of matter and the word ‘motion’ refers to the changing locations of matter. No time = no time travel."
Time is no more an irrational idea than reality, another concept invented by humans.
DE N0V0 (author) on August 23, 2014:
If time is just an artificial measurement which doesn't actually 'exist' then that means that you can not 'travel through it'. You can't travel through things that don't exist.
I'm definitely with you on the Big Bang theory. It's completely bogus and irrational. The universe was never created. It is infinite and eternal.
addo on August 23, 2014:
While I agree that time is a unit of measure for the purpose of humans to have "schedules" and what not, the theory of time travel is not at all impossible since, all measurements can increase or decrease given the circumstances. On the other hand, we cannot perceive that time travel can be achieved, since our understanding of physics is merely several hundred years old compared to the vast amount of "time" it took the universe to manifest itself in the condition that it is, was, and will be.
P.S.: this is the first post on the interwebz in my life, let alone a scientific one at that, having said that, I do not accept the big bang theory, as it would be the same as saying, God created everything from nothing, which you know how it is viewed in the science community.
Darren Mac Donald on June 20, 2014:
What always has bothered me is everyone conceives a point on the earth as a constant. When in truth if time travel were possible you would also need to travel through space as well. What I mean by this is if you think of where you are at the moment, most people consider that to be a constant but in fact, the earth is always rotating, the earth is always rotating around the sun, the solar system is always rotating in the galaxy and the galaxy's are expanding. So what most people consider as "here" one hour ago would be actually be in the middle of space and "here" a thousand years ago would be (more than likely without doing the math) in between two solar systems we don't even know about in the middle of nowhere. Wish they would put that in the movies (sarcasm)
DE N0V0 (author) on May 01, 2014:
"electron, can exist in many places at once"
No it can't. There is no legitimate evidence to support such irrational nonsense.
"or it can become wave or particle in presence of an observer, sugesting that consciousness have major effect on matter"
Did you learn this from 'Dr. Quantum'? I'm sorry to inform you that it's complete rubbish. The double slit experiment does not at all support the idea of consciousness effecting matter. What it indicates is that the mechanism which causes light (and 'electrons') are caused by the wave-motion of smaller sub-atomic 'aether' particles.
"can you really say that universe is not conscious?"
Well, parts of the infinite universe are certainly conscious (the parts that have brains or something similar to brains). But no, I don't think that all matter is conscious. That idea is called 'panpsychism'.
But let's assume for a moment that panpsychism is true. Even so, that still does not support the idea of consciousness effecting matter or that the whole universe has a 'memory of past events'. All it would mean is that all material objects such as rocks, plants, atoms, etc. are all at least somewhat conscious. So not even panpsychist theory can be used to support these new age spiritual ideas that you speak of.
NAme on May 01, 2014:
Wouldnt your explanation contradict the quantum mechanics in which a matter, say electron, can exist in many places at once, or it can become wave or particle in presence of an observer, sugesting that consciousness have major effect on matter, can you really say that universe is not conscious?
Christian on April 29, 2014:
I totally agree, time is an abstract concept - even ask the animals what they think of time, and they will look at you dumbfounded. Mention the temperature of a lake of cold water, and they will react...
DE N0V0 (author) on April 17, 2014:
"If human has invented the concept of time then they also invented the concept of wind and temperature."
The word 'wind' refers to the motion of air. 'Air' is what exists and 'wind' is what air does. Temperature is a numerical measure of how hot or cold something is. So yes, it was invented by humans just like time. 'Heat' is an observer dependent sensation which is triggered by rapidly moving atoms coming into contact with your skin. Similarly, ‘cold’ is an observer dependent sensation which is triggered by slowly moving atoms coming into contact with your skin. What exists is matter, (atoms, particles, etc.) Not concepts (time, temperature, etc.)
“And why can we measure it ? Because it exist.”
No. ‘Time’ IS the measurement. What’s being measured is motion. ‘Motion’ is the changing locations of matter. ‘Matter’ is what exists. ‘Motion’ is what matter does. ‘Time’ is an abstract measurement of motion that humans invented.
“the half-life period of radioactive element”
This involves the MOTION (changing locations) of sub-atomic matter. Time is a concept we invented to MEASURE this motion. Whatever artificial ‘time units’ you use is irrelevant. Yes, it’s useful. I never said that time is not useful. But it’s completely artificial.
“So shame on you for this one: Mistaking 'concept' and 'unit' shouldn't happen.”
‘Unit’ IS a concept. There is no such thing as ‘a unit’ in reality. The word ‘unit’ does not refer to any type of matter or motion of matter. It is an ARTIFICIAL CONCEPT. Just like time.
“When there is no memories, there is no past.”
Yes, that’s right. Matter only exists and moves ‘right now’ (the present). The ability of our brains/minds to memorize the previous locations of matter as it moves is what produces the illusion of ‘the past’. Whenever you remember something you do it ‘right now’ don’t you? So think about it, things are just eternally moving to different locations. This whole ‘past, present, future’ idea is nothing but a misunderstanding. There is no past, present or future. There is nothing but eternal matter in perpetual motion.
“Does that mean 'Earth' just popped out of nowhere at the same time that the first sentient living being ? Does that mean that the world didn't exist before I was born ?”
I see that you’re confused. Matter exists whether or not there is an observer present. But it only exists NOW. The point is that there is no mysterious ‘past record’ of the earth’s previous motions. Once the earth moves to a new location then it ONLY exist at that location and not at its ‘past locations’. If there is no ‘record of the past locations of matter’ apart from our memories then that means that it is impossible to ‘travel to the past’. It means that (like it or not) we are forever stuck in ‘the present’. There is no ‘universal memory’ that keeps track of the previous locations of matter. Only living entities with brains can do that. Once something moves to a new location then it ONLY exists at that new location and NOT at it’s past location.
The bottom line: Only matter has ‘physical presence’ (exists) and ‘motion’ is the changing locations of matter. Time is an artificial measurement of motion.
Hanky on April 17, 2014:
If human has invented the concept of time then they also invented the concept of wind and temperature.
It's not the concept we invented, it's the way to measure it.
And why can we measure it ? Because it exist.
Imagine a new time unit, the 'trooc'. 1 trooc = 2.75 seconds
Did, for example, the half-life period of radioactive element become wrong is seconds are converted to trooc ? Nope.
Find any equation related to time that doesn't work by changing the unit of time : there isn't.
So shame on you for this one: Mistaking 'concept' and 'unit' shouldn't happen.
Worse, you take this science subjet into philosophy: When there is no memories, there is no past.
Does that mean 'Earth' just popped out of nowhere at the same time that the first sentient living being ? Does that mean that the world didn't exist before I was born ?
Where there is no memories, there is only an forgotten past.
You have a few valid point, but you don't push them far away : movement ? No way, something immobible isn't in a 'time stasis'.
Entropy ? YES : Sugar dilluted in water, energy lost by warm that cannot be recuparated.
Your 'definite' proof are just whimsical thinking and half-truth. Sad.
Lewis on September 23, 2013:
Gentlemen I propose we join forces and write a paper on this :)
Lewis on September 23, 2013:
Awesome, its nice to see people who have come to the absolute truth. @antiThesis I agree with you that gravity and speed have an effect on said objects. An example would be that when an atom moves closer to the speed of light, electrons won't be able to move at their usual speed in relative to the atom there they would be "slower" so to say, same applies to gravity e.g blackholes will render an electron motionless.
I personally think that the motion of objects gives the illusion of time rather than time gives motion to objects.
Jonathan on August 13, 2013:
This made complete sense to me and I'm an idiot:) Thanks.
AntiThesis on August 02, 2013:
@mastermesh Can't agree on you with that. It depends on how you define time. I don't believe it is something you can reverse, but I'm a Christian.
I do believe time dilation exists, but not because you are slowing down "the measurement called time", but because the object itself is slowing down at a level lower than we have observed. Just because a clock moved faster in out space doesn't mean time was faster there. It just means the clock itself speed up. Gravity affects motion, which means affecting time if time is simply a measurement of said motion.
On the other hand, if you were to believe something like "God moving time backwards", I wouldn't see it as time moving backwards but as the destruction of the Universe and the recreation of it in a state it was at a time in the past (even if there is no noticeable moment of destruction).
mastermesh on July 01, 2013:
Of course you are making a assumption with your statement "ut the universe does not posses any such ability because the universe (as a whole) is not conscious. " That is a hypothesis you cannot 'prove' and that many religious leaders believe...
Put you conspiracy hats on... Interestingly, the concept of TIME is a highly puritanical idea (study the history of it and it'll lead you to European Christianity). Clocks exist because preachers wanted people to be on time for Sunday masses... so in a way, to dispute that time exists is to dispute that God exists...
Jonas James from Adelaide, South Australia on April 01, 2013:
Well said! Relativity's time dilation is a fraud. All they have demonstrated is that clocks tick at different rates under different gravitational tensions.