Time Machine Expert, Hot Tub Novice: Dr. Michio Kaku Talks Time Travel Reality

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AT: Has anything come close to a realistic look at time travel?

MK: The latest Star Trek movie comes very close. They go through a black hole, which is quite dangerous and Spock meets himself as a young boy, but it creates no paradox because an alternate reality opens up when you go through the black hole. In reality, what’s missing is something to stabilize the wormhole. Some scientists are skeptical because the wormhole may close on you because it’s unstable. To stabilize a wormhole, you have to have something called negative matter. Negative matter would cheat the gateway open and make sure it doesn’t close on you as you walk through the gateway. Now, we’ve never seen negative matter before, but if it does exist, if we can find negative matter, it would be the key element in a time machine.

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AT: So it’s safe to say something like a DeLorean wouldn’t be the ideal time machine?

MK: Well the DeLorean used plutonium, and we physicists can calculate that even an atomic bomb does not have enough energy to open a gateway through space and time. We’re talking about stellar energy. The energy found in a black hole for example. Don’t believe it if someone claims to have built a time machine in their hot tub, in a DeLorean, or anywhere else. The energy it requires is truly cosmic.

Now, the very fact that we think we can do it, let alone think about it, is incredible. Stephen Hawking proposed the idea, where are the tourists from the future? But he changed his mind. Now he says, yes, time travel is possible, it’s very difficult, it’s not practical, but possible. Not practical, but possible. In other words, it seems to be consistent with the known laws of physics. But the technical problems with creating bipoles and stabilizing the gateway with negative matter. That’s for our descendants.

AT: How far off are we from figuring this whole thing out?

MK: You’re talking centuries. It requires just fabulous amounts of energy. The Large Hadron Collider, outside of Geneva, Switzerland that some people are worried about, that’s a pee shooter compared to the energy we need to blow up a hole in space and time. We’re talking centuries.

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