Marty McFly – Like the Idea of Time Travel – Is Pure Fiction

It has now been proven that Marty McFly, “Doc” Brown and that time traveling DeLorean DMC 12 in the film “Back to the Future” all were a figment of the filmmaker’s imagination.  Physicists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have determined that the ultimate speed limit for the packets of light known as photons – making the ability to travel through time less likely than thought.

The speed of light in vacuum is the Universe’s ultimate speed limit, but recent experiments indicate that single photons might beat it.  A paper in Physical Review Letters has determined that individual photons too are limited to the vacuum speed limit.

“By showing that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light, our results bring a closure to the debate on the true speed of information carried by a single photon,” said Professor Shengwang Du, a lead researcher in the study.  As a result, photons cannot time travel, and moving information around at faster-than-the speed of light is impossible.  But the work has more ordinary implications.  “Our findings will also likely have potential applications by giving scientists a better picture on the transmission of quantum information.”

According to Discovery Magazine,  “The possibility of time travel was raised 10 years ago when scientists discovered superluminal — or faster-than-light — propagation of optical pulses in some specific medium, the team said.  It was later found to be a visual effect, but researchers thought it might still be possible for a single photon to exceed light speed.”

Writing on the DVice website, Raymond Wong says that “The hopes of going back in time and visiting the jurassic era to escape a T-Rex and warping into the future to save the world from Skynet will never happen.  Science stated that single photons can’t travel faster than the speed of light.  By result, the possibilities of time traveling have been debunked in one fell swoop because it was previously believed that if a single photon could travel faster than the speed of light, it could ‘teleport’ information to another time.  Du has no idea how many dreams he just shattered with his findings.”

The Hong Kong University research team says that they are the first to demonstrate that optical precursors exist at the single-photon level, and that they’re the fastest part of the single-photon wave packet even in a ‘superluminal’ – or faster than light – medium.  Humanity’s long-held dream of time travel was given a boost 10 years ago with the discovery of superluminal propagation of optical pulses.  Unfortunately, it was later determined that it is only a visual effect – where the superluminal ‘group’ speed of many photons couldn’t be used for transmitting any real information.

According to the IBT website, “Albert Einstein claimed that nothing can travel faster than light, whose speed was the traffic law of the universe.  Du and his colleagues confirmed Einstein’s causality.”

Megan Gibson offers an apt observation in Time.  “In a related note, the word ‘Scientists’ is now synonymous with ‘Dream Killers.’”