A week ago, the scientific journal Physical Review Letters published the most depressing news of the decade for any science fiction lover or (anyone with a wish to party in the year 3500 A.D): Time travel, it seems, has been officially disproved.
Schengwang Du, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and his team of researchers recently came to the depressing conclusion that a photon is not allowed to surpass what he calls the universe’s natural “traffic law” of 186,000 miles per second.
While this research crushes our DeLorean dreams, it reaffirms Einstein’s theory that nothing can move faster than the speed of light. If it were possible to do so, the object (or, in more exciting terms, a person) would be able to move forward as well as backward in time. Unfortunately, Du’s team found that although the photon’s precursor wave front (the fastest part of the particle) moves at exactly the speed of light, the most important part, the part that holds the actual information, always travels slower, confirming Einstein’s theory that an effect cannot occur before its cause. Or, in laymen’s terms, we’re not going on dinosaur safaris or Jetsons-like space outings anytime soon. Or ever. Sorry.
Luckily, there are some time-bending hypotheses that might still stand a chance, even in the face of Du’s new discovery. In light of this, we thought it wise to clarify which time-travel methods are officially bunk in the eyes of science, and which movie plots still have some lingering feasibility.