How to Go Back in Time

Two Methods:Travel Back in Time with PhysicsGo Back in Time Emotionally

Who doesn't want to visit Ancient Rome, or see a live dinosaur, or maybe stop themselves from making a life-shaping mistake? From tourism to take-backs, time travel can be an appealing notion. Unfortunately, while fiction offers plenty of examples of adventurers zipping into the past to break bread with Jesus or assassinate Hitler, the laws of science and logic as we understand them put real world time travel out of reach. Besides requiring technologies that defy what we know of physics, time travel also opens up the possibility of paradoxes that violate the law of causality—the idea that causes must happen before their effects. Here are some options to think about when looking to go back in time.

Method 1
Travel Back in Time with Physics

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    Go faster than light. When you travel at speeds approaching the speed of light, time slows down for you relative to the outside world. If you could travel faster than the speed of light, the time dilation would technically allow you to reach your destination before you even have left, effectively traveling back in time. Unfortunately, the speed of light is the ultimate stop sign in the universe. By the rules of Einstein's Special Relativity, it takes an infinite amount of energy to accelerate a slower-than-light object to the speed of light—the faster you go, the more massive you become and the more energy it takes to accelerate your further. Traveling faster than light would require technology we don't have yet, and that is likely impossible.
    • Relativity does technically allow for faster-than-light particles called tachyons, but there is no evidence that tachyons exist, or that they could be used to transmit meaningful information (like you) if they did.
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    Dive through a wormhole. Wormholes are theoretical warps in the fabric of reality that connect two points of space-time by a shorter distance than they are separated by in the larger continuum. Wormholes could connect distant galaxies, separate universes, and even different times. Much like traveling faster than light, however, the practicalities of stable wormhole creation and travel likely make this option impossible.
    • Ideas in quantum physics suggest that our universe is full of wormholes—tiny ones smaller than atoms that form and collapse in the briefest instants at the level of reality's quantum foam. Harnessing and expanding one to a size humans could move through, however, might cause a feedback loop that collapses the wormhole before you could use it for time travel.
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    Travel forward and let the future figure it out. If you really have to go back in time but haven't found a way to overcome the practical problems of faster-than-light travel or wormhole creation, you could travel forward in time to a far future out of reach of your natural lifetime. Perhaps in the future, people will have developed advanced technologies that make backward time travel possible, and you can convince them to send you back to your historical destination. Under the laws of physics, travel into the future is much more achievable than travel into the past.
    • Take a trip at speeds near the speed of light. Special relativity predicts that if you travel at near light speed, time will slow down for you relative to slower frames of reference. So if you spend a few years zooming away from the Earth and back, you will return to find that more years have passed on Earth than have passed for you.
    • Freeze yourself in suspended animation. Though the technology has hardly been perfected, it may be possible to freeze a human body and thaw it many years later unchanged and un-aged. If you could make yourself such a time capsule, you could last beyond your lifetime and awaken in an age far into the future.

Method 2
Go Back in Time Emotionally

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    Reminisce to relive your past. You don't need a wormhole to take a walk down memory lane. Instead, travel to the past using your memories. Long-term memories can be hard to dig up at first, but with a little stimulus you will soon start remembering vivid details and recalling long-forgotten emotions from days gone by. You'll feel like you are traveling back in time, even if your body stays in the present.
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    Revisit places you left long ago. Your former neighborhood, your primary school, your old church, the site of your first job, places you took memorable vacations. Even if these places have changed a lot, you will still start to remember details about them—and your time there. Try to remember what each room was for, the people you saw in each house, the colors and details of the buildings.
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    Call back your old contacts. These can be college or high-school friends, or even earlier friends if you can get in touch with them. Go with them to visit your old haunts and talk about everything you had lived together before you separated. If you haven't seen this person in a long time, meet in the last place you saw each other.
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    Look at old pictures and examine mementos. Photos can be a great way to rekindle your lost days. Take a deep look into your albums whenever you want to revisit your past life. Take out any memorable objects you kept from your past and examine them, hold them in your hand, try to think about where you got them and how you used them.
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    Buy the perfume or cologne that you used to put on. Smells are very evocative for triggering memories. If you never applied a distinctive scent, try to find a scent that one of your loved ones once applied.
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    Listen to songs you used to love. Maybe you're a bit embarrassed about your childhood musical tastes, but if there are songs you haven't heard in many years, listening to them again can be a great way to feel like you are back in the past. Try finding them on YouTube.
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    Play your childhood games. Don't worry if you don't remember the rules exactly. Find the games that made you the happiest as a child, and give them another shot. You'll be surprised at the memories that they can bring back.
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    Write down the memories that you resurrect. Once you get the time travel train going, keep the ball rolling by writing down every detail that comes to mind.


  • When traveling in the past, do not interact with anybody or anything. Ignore everyone, you could create a paradox by just saying Hi.
  • Be careful when travelling at the speed of light, you can go father into the future than you want


  • If you do manage to travel back in time, be very careful not to create a paradox or change something that has unthinkable consequences. Time travelers in fiction seem to have an unfortunate knack for killing their grandparents, disrupting the historical results of an important war, or stepping on a bug that was critical to future evolution. Such paradoxes could be deadly or destructive to you or the entire universe.
  • Paradox could be a misconception as we know it. At every point of time, there is a possibility for infinite number of occurrences. Your reaching that instance in the past might also be a possibility. So, if you change something 'naively' (like killing your grandparent, for instance), time will adopt that route.

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Categories: Accuracy | Physics