19 March 2008

Back to the future

My friend Phil pointed me towards a story of astonishing magnitude that, amid all the hurly-burly of stock market plunges and ex-Beatles divorces, seems to have slipped through the general consciousness: an experiment scheduled for this summer at CERN – the particle accelerator in Switzerland – will attempt to send an atom several thousand years into the future, in the first steps towards time-travel (story here). I’m not quite sure how they will verify that the experiment has succeeded, bar waiting around for a few millennia to catch up with their atom, but it opens up exciting possibilities.

According to the Daily Telegraph: "The debut in early summer could provide a landmark because travelling into the past is only possible - if it is possible at all - as far back as the point of creation of the first time machine." In other words, if this experiment does, ultimately, lead to the creation of a working time machine in the future, the resultant time travellers could be amongst us as soon as July.

So if you catch sight of a DeLorean leaving fiery-tracks in the road, it might not be the local joy-riders earning their next ASBOs. (And if you don’t understand that reference, the only time-machine you need is a beta-max video to take you back to 1985, when time-travelling was just about the coolest mischief a kid could get up to.)

1 comment:

PW said...

One popular theme in science fiction is the creation of some kind of temporal police force that seeks out anomalies and seeks to correct them. If such a body exists at any point in the future, one can only assume that they will have a particular interest in preventing the CERN experiment, which threatens the laws of causality and a rupture in the space-time continuum. I wonder if we'll find that the experiment never works because of continual sabotage by timecops?