We know that time travel is possible. We have proved that it is consistent with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Measuring the differences in time of GPS satellites (or indeed astronauts who spend a long time in space), we know that time travels at different speeds, depending on where you are. This obviously also explains the ‘long dark teatime of the soul’ when you arrive for the weekend too early for a real drink and too late for a decent walk.
We are, when it comes to time travel, at the point of watching an early aeroplane take off, not crash and fly around the airfield before bouncing back to earth.
Fast forward to the equivalent moment when you watch the latest fighter jet take off, and we might be travelling backwards and forwards a day or two, but it is unlikely we will disappear in a puff of smoke, put something right in the past and return to a world completely changed by our rash behaviour. We would simply feel as if we had been travelling for a couple of hours, compared to the rest of humanity, where a weekend had drifted away.
So, what about wormholes?
Will time travel take a massive jump if we find and explore these theoretical gateways. If we step into one, do we suddenly find ourselves 400 years in the past or in the Court of the Crimson King? We may never know and if we ever find out, a) we will probably be long gone, and b) we may not like what we find when we get there.
And, of course, it is possible that we will be beaten to it by emissaries from the Court of said Crimson King, who will pop out in our own spacetime and say hello.
Indeed, a couple of scientists believe that this has already happened, that a Galactic Federation has got here first (thus probably halting our own need to time travel) but doesn’t want to say hello just yet; we have enough on our plate at the moment.
Meeting aliens may not be a great idea anyway. If they are super-intelligent or advanced enough to time travel their way around the universe, we will probably be as squirrels or bugs to them, and, as such, the conversations are going to be a bit limited. And dangerous if they get bored.
Time travel is all well and good, but some say we have enough to focus on at home without trying to discover whatever else might be out there.
The trouble is that it is not just cats that get killed by curiosity, and with the investment now available from our Earthborn billionaires, it is unlikely that we will resist the temptation to put our hand in the fire to see if it hurts.