this is just MY two cents, but I believe that time travel and FTL travel are inexorably linked. Solve one and you will have the answer to the other also. In the generally accepted Big Bang theory of the universe, there was a period when the universe expanded many times the speed of light– “The Inflationary Epoch”– and physicists generally explain this by saying that the faster than light law violating relativity only exists within space-time…. because the universe was expanding “into” a different medium (higher dimensions?), it doesnt have to follow those laws. I agree with this! Relativity only applies to our space-time– because Einstein didnt make any allowance for the existence of other dimensions, what lies outside (or surrounds) the universe etc– remember his theories came from the turn of the 20th century. Just like Newton was superseded by Einstein, so will Einstein be superseded by a more complete “unified” theory that takes into account Relativity, Quantum Mechanics AND Gravity. Speaking of which, the interesting thing about the universe expanding into a different medium is this– the big bang was a singularity– black holes are singularities– both generated an immense amount of gravity that had to be overcome somehow. This is where FTL velocities come in– for the big bang to actually occur, for the cosmic egg to explode like it did– we needed FTL velocities. Now, one thing we know about the universe is that its symmetrical on many different scales– you have the atom, with the nucleus at the center and the electrons in outer shells… you have the solar system with the sun at the center and the planets in orbits…. you have the galaxy with the supermassive black hole at the nucleus and stars orbiting it…. so why not think of black holes as miniature versions of the big bang, and if that is the case, isnt it also possible for matter to “escape” from them and to wind up in another portion of the universe, merely by the fact that to become a singularity, a black hole has to “pinch itself off” from the rest of the universe? Solving this riddle could not only solve the problems of FTL, but time travel also (read some of my posts on closed timelike curves, which are a product of applying Relativity to black hole physics.) Kerr black holes are a special case of black holes that spin– and the fact they spin makes it theoretically possible for them to be transversible– in other words, you could create a transportation device from a Kerr black hole without being crushed to death by the intense gravity pull. Why is that? Because in a Kerr black hole, unlike conventional black holes, the gravity doesnt increase to infinity at the center, rather the area of most intense gravity lies in a ring– and, properly navigated, you could journey through a Kerr black hole and wind up in some other portion of the universe without risking being crushed.

Also, Im not sure if you are aware of the theory of multiple dimensions of time. This is a theory that’s actually gained quite a large following in the physics community, as it helps solve a number of problems– not the least of which is the big bang singularity. Ive posted links to imaginary time, and the theory of multiple temporal dimensions before– and there really isnt a reason why there shouldnt be multiple temporal dimensions– after all we have multiple spatial dimensions. Think of time as existing on an x-axis as well as a y-axis, and it makes the idea of multiple time streams more easily accessible, as each time stream would have its own slope and Y intercept… some might not even have a Y intercept but have a slope of infinity and an X intercept– I sure hope any prospective time traveler doesnt accidentally wind up in one of those time streams!

Another theoretical aspect of this, which Ive addressed in the past, is the possible existence of micro black holes– that is, black holes the size of subatomic particles– as a way of explaining the Casimir effect– the “winking” into and out of existence of virtual particles– and vacuum energy. These virtual particles could merely be teleported into and out of different parts of the universe (or between different universes)– and this would preserve the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy, instead of leaving a gaping hole within it, as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle wants to do. As a matter of fact, vacuum energy could solve the problem Phineas outlined earlier– the problem of generating enough energy to create our own transversible wormholes. Space is packed with vacuum energy!

This is why I think time travel, faster than light travel, gravity and time are all linked together. The fact is, out of the four fundamental forces, its gravity which doesnt seem to “belong” with the others– it is so different that physicists are starting to think it doesnt even originate in our universe! This would offer an explanation of why gravity is so intense inside black holes– the fact is, since black holes are pinched off singularities, separate from the rest of the universe, they have closer access to the “source” of gravity. As a matter of fact, Einstein’s description of gravity as being able to cause space-time to curve downwards, might just be more evidence that points to an extradimensional source for gravitation– perhaps space-time itself is curving towards that source and black holes, being an extreme source of gravitation, cause so much curving that space-time has pinched itself off around it (this is how physicists explain black holes, as a matter of fact.) Its quite ironic that an everyday property of our existence– Gravity– may have such an exotic source, but it shows how, though theoretical physics might be esoteric, it underlies everyday life in a multitude of ways (the same is true of the Casimir effect, imagine being able to verify the existence of a multiverse and transversible wormholes in an ordinary high school lab!)– and the laws we hold dear– things like the Gravitational Constant, Relativity, etc– may just be approximations of reality based on our own limited knowledge of reality! By the same token that gravity doesnt seem to belong with the other 3 fundamental forces, so time doesnt seem to belong with the other 3 dimensions. Is time even real– and if it is real– does it, too exist in multiple dimensions, or does it behave in an even more exotic way outside of space-time? This can have wide ranging implications since it is now known that even everyday biological systems are subject to quantum mechanics. Does time even have any meaning outside of space-time, or is causality only a property of our local reality? In other universes (which have been postulated by Hawkings, among others), do the same physical laws hold true, or does each universe have its own set of physical laws that were randomly set during its big bang (and if they arent randomly set– what caused them to be the way they are, what caused the speed of light to be the number it is, what causes the alpha fine structure constant to be the way it is, what caused the gravitational constant to be the number it is, what about the hubble constant or even the planck constant? where is all the antimatter?…. and can they change over time, and what effect would that have on a given universe…. including ours? Would we even know they had changed or would the changing of the constants alter the universe(s) in a fundamental way that would conspire us from knowing they had changed? How would the primary structures of a given universe be different– galaxies, stars, planets, etc.? Could time flow in a different direction in such a universe? What about the ratio of matter to antimatter? Could life exist in a universe that had different physical laws than ours has and how would it be different? Could we create our own pocket universe one day to simulate and experiment with different universes of our own creation and would there be a way to tap into their almost limitless energies to create a huge amount of power in a controlled, systematic way? Could we tweak said aritificial universe to contain physical laws and constants the way WE want them to be? How about generating life made entirely of antimatter or even exotic particles or energy? Could we tweak the flow of time to be in reverse, for example, and thus create a pocket universe where time travel was not only possible, but extremely efficient? Was our own universe created in this way? Is our universe open ended, closed or oscillating, and if the latter two are the case, will the direction of time change during the collapse? If its an oscillating one– which we seem to have growing evidence for– will the next “bounce” retain any memory of the previous one, will it have the same physical laws and constants, or will they change, and by how much? Would life still be possible if they changed?) What caused the Big Bang(s) in the first place? (And my own personal favorite– if the cosmic egg is indeed just a larger version of a black hole, could the supermassive black hole at the center of an exceptionally massive galaxy– M87 in Virgo, for example– cause a whole new Big Bang?) Lots of questions and very little answers– but it is fun to speculate. Perhaps when the Alcubierre space-warp drive becomes reality (or we can create a large enough collider)…. we will finally find some answers…. because it will be able to pinch itself off from space-time and we should be able to tell if space-time is undergoing changes right under our feet, so to speak And maybe even create other physical realities!

Many thanks to LF272 for finding this article in the Times; I made my post before I had a chance to read it, and it seems like it dovetails nicely with the end of my previous post.

It seems like we’re on our way to creating new physical laws (and perhaps the collider is the pocket universe I was speaking of) on the most fundamental of levels (and like I mentioned earlier– its absolutely amazing how the universe is symmetrical and circular on so many scales– to think that experimenting on the quantum level of quarks could cause a discovery that would have cosmic scale implications is truly mind boggling)….

In Brookhaven Collider, Scientists Briefly Break a Law of Nature

Published: February 15, 2010

Physicists said Monday that they had whacked a tiny region of space with enough energy to briefly distort the laws of physics, providing the first laboratory demonstration of the kind of process that scientists suspect has shaped cosmic history.
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Brookhaven National Laboratory

HOT A computer rendition of 4-trillion-degree Celsius quark-gluon plasma created in a demonstration of what scientists suspect shaped cosmic history.

The blow was delivered in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where, since 2000, physicists have been accelerating gold nuclei around a 2.4-mile underground ring to 99.995 percent of the speed of light and then colliding them in an effort to melt protons and neutrons and free their constituents — quarks and gluons. The goal has been a state of matter called a quark-gluon plasma, which theorists believe existed when the universe was only a microsecond old.

The departure from normal physics manifested itself in the apparent ability of the briefly freed quarks to tell right from left. That breaks one of the fundamental laws of nature, known as parity, which requires that the laws of physics remain unchanged if we view nature in a mirror.

This happened in bubbles smaller than the nucleus of an atom, which lasted only a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second. But in these bubbles were “hints of profound physics,” in the words of Steven Vigdor, associate director for nuclear and particle physics at Brookhaven. Very similar symmetry-breaking bubbles, at an earlier period in the universe, are believed to have been responsible for breaking the balance between matter and its opposite antimatter and leaving the universe with a preponderance of matter.

“We now have a hook” into how these processes occur, Dr. Vigdor said, adding in an e-mail message, “IF the interpretation of the RHIC results turns out to be correct.” Other physicists said the results were an important window into the complicated dynamics of quarks, which goes by the somewhat whimsical name of Quantum Chromo Dynamics.

Frank Wilczek, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who won the Nobel Prize for work on the theory of quarks, called the new results “interesting and surprising,” and said understanding them would help understand the behavior of quarks in unusual circumstances.

“It is comparable, I suppose, to understanding better how galaxies form, or astrophysical black holes,” he said.

The Brookhaven scientists and their colleagues discussed their latest results from RHIC in talks and a news conference at a meeting of the American Physical Society Monday in Washington, and in a pair of papers submitted to Physical Review Letters. “This is a view of what the world was like at 2 microseconds,” said Jack Sandweiss of Yale, a member of the Brookhaven team, calling it, “a seething cauldron.”

Among other things, the group announced it had succeeded in measuring the temperature of the quark-gluon plasma as 4 trillion degrees Celsius, “by far the hottest matter ever made,” Dr. Vigdor said. That is 250,000 times hotter than the center of the Sun and well above the temperature at which theorists calculate that protons and neutrons should melt, but the quark-gluon plasma does not act the way theorists had predicted.

Instead of behaving like a perfect gas, in which every quark goes its own way independent of the others, the plasma seemed to act like a liquid. “It was a very big surprise,” Dr. Vigdor said, when it was discovered in 2005. Since then, however, theorists have revisited their calculations and found that the quark soup can be either a liquid or a gas, depending on the temperature, he explained. “This is not your father’s quark-gluon plasma,” said Barbara V. Jacak, of the State University at Stony Brook, speaking for the team that made the new measurements.

It is now thought that the plasma would have to be a million times more energetic to become a perfect gas. That is beyond the reach of any conceivable laboratory experiment, but the experiments colliding lead nuclei in the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva next winter should reach energies high enough to see some evolution from a liquid to a gas.

Parity, the idea that the laws of physics are the same when left and right are switched, as in a mirror reflection, is one of the most fundamental symmetries of space-time as we know it. Physicists were surprised to discover in 1956, however, that parity is not obeyed by all the laws of nature after all. The universe is slightly lopsided in this regard. The so-called weak force, which governs some radioactive decays, seems to be left-handed, causing neutrinos, the ghostlike elementary particles that are governed by that force, to spin clockwise, when viewed oncoming, but never counterclockwise.

Under normal conditions, the laws of quark behavior observe the principle of mirror symmetry, but Dmitri Kharzeev of Brookhaven, a longtime student of symmetry changes in the universe, had suggested in 1998 that those laws might change under the very abnormal conditions in the RHIC fireball. Conditions in that fireball are such that a cube with sides about one quarter the thickness of a human hair could contain the total amount of energy consumed in the United States in a year.
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All this energy, he said, could put a twist in the gluon force fields, which give quarks their marching orders. There can be left-hand twists and right-hand twists, he explained, resulting in space within each little bubble getting a local direction.

What makes the violation of mirror symmetry observable in the collider is the combination of this corkscrewed space with a magnetic field, produced by the charged gold ions blasting at one another. The quarks were then drawn one way or the other along the magnetic field, depending on their electrical charges.

The magnetic fields produced by the collisions are the most intense ever observed, roughly 100 million billion gauss, Dr. Sandweiss said.

The directions of the magnetic field and of the corkscrew effect can be different in every bubble, the presumed parity violations can only be studied statistically, averaged over 14 million bubble events. In each of them, the mirror symmetry could be broken in a different direction, Dr. Sandweiss explained, but the effect would always be the same, with positive quarks going one way and negative ones the other. That is what was recorded in RHIC’s STAR detector (STAR being short for Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC) by Dr. Sandweiss and his colleagues. Dr. Sandweiss cautioned that it was still possible that some other effect could be mimicking the parity violation, and he d held off publication of the results for a year, trying unsuccessfully to find one. So they decided, he said, that it was worthy of discussion.

One test of the result, he said, would be to run RHIC at a lower energy and see if the effect went away when there was not enough oomph in the beam to distort space-time. The idea of parity might seem like a very abstract and mathematical concept, but it affects our chemistry and biology. It is not only neutrinos that are skewed. So are many of the molecules of life, including proteins, which are left-handed, and sugars, which are right-handed.

The chirality, or handedness, of molecules prevents certain reactions from taking place in chemistry and biophysics, Dr. Sandweiss noted, and affects what we can digest.

Physicists suspect that the left-handedness of neutrinos might have contributed to the most lopsided feature of the universe of all, the fact that it is composed of matter and not antimatter, even though the present-day laws do not discriminate. The amount of parity violation that physicists have measured in experiments, however, is not enough to explain how the universe got so unbalanced today. We like symmetry, Dr. Kharzeev, of Brookhaven, noted, but if the symmetry between matter and antimatter had not been broken long ago, “the universe would be a very desolate place.”

The new measurement from the quark plasma does not explain the antimatter problem either, Dr. Sandweiss said, but it helps show how departures from symmetry can appear in bubbles like the ones in RHIC in the course of cosmic evolution. Scientists think that the laws of physics went through a series of changes, or “phase transitions,” like water freezing to ice, as the universe cooled during the stupendously hot early moments of the Big Bang. Symmetry-violating bubbles like those of RHIC are more likely to form during these cosmic changeovers. “If you learn more about it from this experiment, we could then illuminate the process that gives rise to these bubbles,” Dr. Sandweiss said.

Dr. Vigdor said: “A lot of physics sounds like science fiction. There is a lot of speculation on what happened in the early universe. The amazing thing is that we have this chance to test any of this.”