Are there any real time machines?

In my opinion, we are in about the same place space travel was at the beginning of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, all we knew about space travel came from science fiction. We knew that birds could fly, and this observation provided hope that human air flight would eventually be possible. However, at this point we could only fly using balloons, which was a long way from controlled air flight. We knew about projectiles, such as cannonballs and simple rockets, and this provided hope that one day humankind would be able to travel into space. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century we were still three years away from building the first successful airplane. The first successful airplane did not come from a well-respected theory or formal scientific investigation. Most early attempts at air flight tended to focus on building powerful engines, or they attempted to imitate birds. The early attempts at air flight were dismal failures. The first successful heavier-than-air machine, the airplane, was invented in 1903 by two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright. They were not scientists, nor did they publish a scholarly paper in a scientific journal delineating their plans. Quite the contrary, the two brothers had a background in printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Clearly, their background would not suggest they would invent the first airplane and lead humankind into space. However, their experience in machinery enabled them to build a small wind tunnel and collect the data necessary to sustain controlled air flight. From the beginning, the Wright brothers believed that the solution to controlled air flight lay hidden in pilot controls, rather than powerful engines. Based on their wind tunnel work, they invented what is now the standard method of all airplane controls, the three-axis control. They also invented efficient wing and propeller designs. It is likely that many in the scientific community in the beginning of the twentieth century would have considered aeronautics similar to the way the scientific community in the early part of the twenty-first century considers time travel—still something outside the fold of legitimate science. However, on December 17, 1903, at a small, remote airfield in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the two brothers made the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight. They invented the airplane. It was, of course, humankind’s first step into the heavens.

I believe the invention of the airplane is a good analogy to where we are regarding time travel. We have some examples, namely, time dilation data, and a theoretical basis that suggests time travel is potentially real. However, we have not reached the “Kitty Hawk” moment. If Dr. Mallett makes his time machine work, and that is a big “if,” numerous physicists will provide the theoretical foundation for its success, essentially erasing any errors that Dr. Mallett may have made in his calculations. He will walk as another great into the history of scientific achievement.

My point is a simple one. The line between scientific genius and scientific “crank” is a fine one. When Einstein initially introduced his special theory of relativity in 1905, he was either criticized or ignored. Few in the scientific community appreciated and understood Einstein’s special theory of relativity in 1905. It took about fifteen years for the scientific community to begin to accept it. Einstein was aware of the atmosphere that surrounded him. In 1919, he stated in the Times of London, “By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be represented as a bête noire, the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!”

Dr. Mallett is on record predicting a breakthrough in backward time travel within a decade. Only time and experimental evidence will prove if his prediction becomes reality. Even if the Mallett time machine works, it would still represent only a baby step. We would still be a long way from human time travel, but we would be one step closer.

Source: How to Time Travel (2013), Louis A. Del Monte