There is a high probability that scientists will unlock the secrets to human time travel before the end of this century. The technologies needed to develop a real time machine are already coming together.

Let us consider forward time travel, also known as “time dilation”. Particle colliders, like the CERN Large Hadron Collider, are routinely able to accelerate subatomic particles, like a muon (i.e. a negatively charged particle about two hundred times heavier than an electron), and cause time dilation (i.e. extend the life span of the particle by a factor of ten or more). How does this relate to human time travel?

It is a scientific fact that humans within a spacecraft traveling at a velocity near the speed of light would experience time dilation (i.e. forward time travel). A one-year journey, measured on a clock onboard the spacecraft, would be equivalent to decades on Earth. One technology envisioned to power such a spacecraft is a matter-antimatter propulsion engine. CERN scientists, using the Large Hadron Collider, are able to produce and store small quantities of antimatter. The United States Air Force has been funding antimatter research since the early 1960’s. If this research is successful, it could result in a spacecraft with a matter-antimatter propulsion engine, capable of velocities we can only read about in science fiction.

Time travel to the past may be just a decade away, according to Dr. Ronald Mallett, an American theoretical physicist, author, and full professor at University of Connecticut. Dr. Mallett is attempting to twist spacetime using a ring laser (i.e. a laser that rotates in a circle) by passing it through a through a photonic crystal (i.e. a crystal that only allows photons of a specific wavelength to pass through it). The concept behind “Spacetime Twisting by Light” is that by twisting space, via the laser, closed timelike curves will result (i.e. time will also be twisted). A closed timelike curve means that an object, like a neutron (i.e. a subatomic particle), will be able to travel backward in time. Dr. Mallett’s work is still in the research stage, but it represents serious time travel research by a solid member of the scientific community.

While all signs point to humankind having the ability to travel in time by the end of this century, will humankind be ready for time travel?

Most people think of time travel as either science fiction or just another frontier of science. Few realize the weapon potential of time travel. However, it is the ultimate weapon. Any government capable of enabling human time travel can dominate the world. That government can control history. If they can control history, they can control their future. The government’s agents, the time travelers, can intervene and change the past. Similarly, time traveling agents to the future will know with certainty the outcome of any event. The need for spies, secret agents, spy satellites, and the like, will become obsolete. The time machine will be the ultimate weapon, time travelers the ultimate soldiers.

If the capability to time travel is acquired by more than one government, wars as we know them will likely cease. In their place, governments will fight over “history”. Each government will seek to write its own history, and assure its future success. The “world line” (i.e. the four-dimensional path each reality traces in spacetime) will bend and twist to the will of the time machine.

The potential of using time travel as a weapon is real, and we do not know if humankind will be able to control it. If we look to history, humankind has deployed weapons, like nuclear bombs, without knowing the full long-term impact. For example, the Fat Man nuclear bomb detonated above the city of Nagasaki, not only killed 60,000 – 80,000 people in the first four months, but the long-term effects included a 25% increase in the cancer rate of survivors during their lifetime.

There is hope. Humankind recognized the uncontrollable nature of biological weapons before deploying them as weapons of mass destruction. In a 1969 press conference, United States President Richard M. Nixon stated, “Biological weapons have massive, unpredictable, and potentially uncontrollable consequences.” He added, “They may produce global epidemics and impair the health of future generations.” In 1972, President Nixon submitted the Biological Weapons Convention to the U.S. Senate: “I am transmitting herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons, and on their Destruction, opened for signature at Washington, London and Moscow on April 10, 1972. The text of this Convention is the result of some three years of intensive debate and negotiation at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament at Geneva and at the United Nations. It provides that the Parties undertake not to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain biological agents or toxins, of types and in quantities that have no justification for peaceful purposes, as well as weapons, equipment and means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.”

Will humankind be able to control time travel in a similar fashion to biological weapons? If the answer is yes, then time travel and the associated technologies may serve humankind, assuring humankind’s survival. If the answer is no, the world line may become the new battleground, as each nation seeks to rewrite their history. Would it be possible to twist the world line beyond recognition? Will time itself fall victim to humankind’s carelessness?

With nuclear weapons, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence kept humankind from destroying itself. With time travel, we need a similar doctrine. I submit for your consideration that doctrine needs to be: Preserver the World Line.

Lou Del Monte’s new book, How to Time Travel, is expected to be released on Amazon in early September 2013.