Denny Lee

In the context of quantum entanglement and time travel – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek

This is a follow-up to In the context of quantum entanglement and teleportation – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek. Now, I’m diving into one of SciFi’s persistent quandaries – time travel.  Note that I am a proud Trekkie, so this is not meant as a knock on Star Trek.  In fact, I’ve already purchased my tickets for Star Trek Into Darkness. And as a fan of BBC’s Sherlock, I admit I am rooting for the villain this time around!

Feature Image: Michael Bolognesi’s Diamonds in the Sky

Image source: Benedict Cumberbatch – Star Trek Into Darkness, Stargate Universe Episode: Time

Please note that I am, at best, a novice quantum physicist. I just read a bunch of quantum physics books and watch PBS and Discovery when I’m not watching SciFi

The Illusion of Time

The episode The Illusion of Time from PBS’ The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene is the catalyst.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time changing how we perceive what is time travel via quantum entanglement

The basic tenets of concern here are:

  • Time is a far more complicated concept than we initially realized. And it was Albert Einstein who devised the basic building blocks.
  • The key concept is that space and time are not separate constructs. In science fiction parlance, the space-time fabric does exist.
  • The distance (i.e., space) and gravity have a sizeable impact on time.  If A is far from B, the direction A affects the time they see B. That is, A may be observing B’s past or future, depending on its direction.
  • Therefore, time itself is not a fundamental construct, but it is a personal one. Time runs at different speeds based on the observer.
  • While time seems to go in one direction, there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents one from going backward, as time is an illusion.
  • The arrow of time is our concept of going forward in time. This arrow is perhaps an artifact of entropy, i.e., the universe’s tendency to go from order to disorder.  
  • Thus, the beginning of time, i.e., the Big Bang, started this chain reaction of disorder that we observe today.

Time to go back to Star Trek

In Star Trek episodes, one could achieve time travel by going fast around a sizeable gravitational body (e.g., a star, planet, etc.). (e.g., Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, etc.).  Yet, as noted in the Illusion of Time, one would need an object with a massive gravitational pull to impact time – such as a black hole. 

Star Trek (2019) red matter was capable of forming black holes to be used or time travel
Star Trek (2019) red matter was capable of forming black holes to be used for time travel

In the Star Trek (2009) reboot, they achieved time travel by using red matter to create a black hole.  But to go forward in time with a black hole, you would need to go around it.  The closer your orbit to the black hole, the slower time progresses for those orbiting in relation to those not (e.g., people on Earth).  Years may have passed for the folks on Earth, while only hours would have progressed while orbiting the black hole.

But even accepting artistic licensing about the difference between going through vs. around a black hole, this construct is about going forward in time, not backward.

Stargate and Wormholes

If you follow the Stargate series, teams go from one location to another almost instantaneously through the stable wormholes between two gates.  As noted in my previous post, teleportation between two gates could theoretically be achieved via quantum entanglement.  The gates are scanning pads that control and contain entangled particles.  Upon their activation, a massive amount of information (i.e., the quantum state of the objects) is transmitted between gates.  But what is also interesting here is that there is nothing in physics that states that entangled particles have actually to be from the same time. As noted, time is just an illusion based on the arrow of time going from order to disorder.

Wormhole Travel from Stargate SG-1 Movie
Wormhole Travel from Stargate SG-1 Movie

The concept is not as far-fetched as it may seem:

  • Wormholes as Time Machines discusses that it is theoretically possible to use wormholes as time machines. Albeit, in their scenario, it would be achieved by having one end of the wormhole sped up to the speed of light.
  • Perhaps this could also be achieved via quantum retrocausality per Time-twisting test stuck in limbo. That is, manipulate a particle that affects its entangled partner earlier than the event. Expanding on this, teleport an object to its entangled partners in a different time period to achieve time travel.

Nevertheless, at least within the context of quantum entanglement, it appears that in both time travel and teleportation, Stargate is more correct than Star Trek.

Ground Control to Major Tom

As Q said to Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “All Good Things”:

For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.

As enjoyable as it was to go through the mental exercise of quantum entanglement and time travel, I still have to give one more shout-out to Star Trek (especially the above quote), as it was the reason, as a kid, I had wanted to become an astronaut.  And with that segue, a special shout out to Commander Hadfield’s fantastic rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Enjoy (and debate below if you like)!

One response to “In the context of quantum entanglement and time travel – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek”

  1. […] While writing this post, I realized that it may be possible to time travel using this quantum entanglement.   After all, since time is an illusion (as per The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time), I’m not sure there is anything that prevents entangled particles from being from different times (and it’s an illusion anyways). Check out In the context of quantum entanglement and time travel – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek. […]

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