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back to article US prof plans to send message back in time

A West Coast scientist who believes it may be possible to transmit information backwards through time has been funded by individual donations after established mad-scientist groups refused to cough up. John Cramer, a physicist at the University of Washington, reckons that "quantum retrocausality" could "involve signalling, or …

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Obvious, innit!

He beams next weekend's lotto numbers back to himself.

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Erm, are you sure that isn't "Kramer"?

(US-Centric Sienfeld-Show subreference).

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Hmm...

So his plan is to send back in time a message, but who will recieve it and know they have recieved the message? Unless he is waiting at the time when said message is supposed to arrive, in which case if it doesnt arrive does he class it as a failiure in which case he doesnt send the message because he knows it doesnt arrive, which would then explain why it doesnt arrive.

Or if it does arrive, does he get so excited he forgets to send the message causing a fracture in the space time continuum destroying the entire Universe and making me miss the next series of Lost?

Time travel is confusing.

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Silver badge

I know you know I know you sent it

Ouch! Maybe he was into that alternate reality game NIN released for the Year Zero album and decided to take a crack on it.

Still ... who will get the message in the past? Where? and When?

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Anonymous Coward

Planets loop-d-loop in Flat Earth World

The earth is flat, everything travels around the earth, and when you see a planet apparently loop the loop, the theories get complicated and implausible but they must be true, because you can observe the planets loop the loop through a telescope. So as implausible as it sounds, the theory is correct! The earth is flat!

Quantum theory is true, things get a little complicated and implausible, but it must be true because whenever they fit an increasingly complicated theory to observed reality, they can eventually make it fit!

Well either that or they messed up early on and didn't notice.....

Do electrons really only exist in discrete orbits? Ask the artists.

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Anonymous Coward

Transactional Interpretation

Shame on DARPA! (And shame on the science desk, too.)

I'm no expert, but this is a very clever interpretation of QM called the Transactional Interpretation. IIRC it uses waves travelling _backwards_ as well as forwards in time, to resolve most of the paradoxes of QM. Okay, at the subatomic level cause may not always follow effect; but that's way less BS than any other interpretation. Check out

http://www.npl.washington.edu/npl/int_rep/tiqm/TI_toc.html

I wish John all the best.

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Addressing problem

The Prof has successfully transmitted his message, only when I got it last month, I had no idea who it was for, so I threw it in the shredder.

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Not Crazy

"Artists have experienced non-local space all along, we just can't prove it"

No, definitely not crazy, not at all.

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Maybe

Maybe for this thing/method to work you need a machine to receive the message. So no time travel emails can be recieved until it gets built.

BTW I am submitting this comment FROM THE FUTURE!!

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Time travel is easy.

I once discovered a device that allowed me to travel through space and time outside my house. Then someone told me it was a car.

Seriously, though. It would seem that the simplest way to get a time machine would be to bury a message in a mason jar or somesuch near a place of future archeological interest. The message should read "To whoever gets this jar, please send a time machine to [insert time / position here]." and then just stand around with the shovel at the ready. If you were successful, you should know within seconds, can dispatch the traveler BoFH style, and scamper off with your young female companion who will ask "But Doctor, where are we going now?"

Any time-machine that doesn't involve a paradox in its construction or acquisition is just a clock.

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Anonymous Coward

He's too late.

He's too late. I already did the experiment. Although I will not discover the effect until 2 years after Cramer, I sent my message earlier in time than he did, allowing me to claim (and demonstrated) discovery and precedence.

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The first time

So the first time he runs the experiment successfully he will know if it works or not.

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Been here before

I've heard him talk about this on some TV show. Perversely, it's more a machine for receiving messages from the future; as until it is built, no-one can receive anything on it. Presumably the test for it working is a message as soon as you switch it on?

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seriously though...

There's a difference between an experiment that demonstrates an effect and an operational wayback machine. He's probably going to demonstrate demonstrating a fixed message he didn't get to pick back in time a few microseconds.

Even if he succeeds, he doesn't necessarily invent time travel, but only demonstrates something that can be interpreted as time travel. Whether it is or isn't depends on a lot of theory that basically hasn't been written yet because nobody knows if it's worth trying. If he doesn't succeed, he also doesn't know that much. His apparatus might be faulty.

Or, he might cause a weird causality loop that makes the universe lock up like a scratched DVD showing the same frame over and over. We'll all be trapped trapped trapped trapped trapped trapped...

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Um..... how will he recieve it?

Has he already built himself a reciever a few months ago so that he can recieve in the past what he will send today?

And don't forget causality loops: You send a message to the past. You change the past. You therefore change the future, and in this new future, you may never have sent a message into the past!

Time's a bitch, but please send me - just in case - next week's Euromillion's numbers to daniel@....

Cheers,

Daniel

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Title

If he really was successful in the future wouldn't we already have received his message?

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No problem

Time travel isn't a problem; Time jumping about the place from thin air like in that space ship is the problem.

For instance, star trek film where they go back in time? attempting to break the speed of light round the sun? duh! when you travel faster than the speed of light it's your own personal time that goes backwards not the rest of the universe, the universe continues to go forwards (time inertia), so the question of how you can continue to move forwards in time/space faster than light and go backwards in time is what makes the calculations spit out E on your calculator; not really anything to do with causality.

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Anonymous Coward

x, y, z ???

I'm interested in how he's going to work around the other three (for simplicity) pesky dimensions involved and the fact that a certain amount of movement in space will need to be accounted for when attempting to 'address' the transmission...

the earth rotates on its axis, it also moves in orbit around the sun which moves as the galaxy rotates which is also speeding along...

Even dealing with miniscule amounts of time the detector will probably not be in location the transmitter is pointing at in order to calulate the position and orientation he will also need to know the exact time variance...

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Anonymous Coward

Warp speed

I think his first order of business is to send a message faster than light as a proof of concept. Just what we all need: a method of delivering junk mail to our inboxes that much faster.

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Patent

Who-ever examines the patent for prior art is in for some interesting times.

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x,y,z no problem

sadly the time travel will be on the order of milliseconds while the decoding time in days. I'm guessing it's just making a pulse propergate back along a laser beam along all 4 dimentions (x,y,z and time) back too the start where it can be detected. No chance of any paradoxes (or lotto numbers).

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Lottery

Actually he sent me a message last week with the winning lottery numbers on it. I thought it was just a joke so never bothered buying it - honest

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Pretentious elitist artist-type ALERT!!

'"Artists have experienced non-local space all along, we just can't prove it," he added mysteriously.'

If I were 15 I would say "ROFLMAO!!11"

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Anonymous Coward

Well, you've gone and ruined it, now

"I would say the predicted failure of this project is probably a good omen," Miller told the Post-Intelligencer. "Most predictions are wrong.""

So, because of that, you're predicting it's going to be a succ.... Oops. Guess Mr. Miller just shot *that* experiment to hell. Good work, jackass!

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Anonymous Coward

Someone can already send messages forward..

How else do you explain the fact I keep getting emails from itunes dated 1/1/1970?

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Anonymous Coward

His Message

His Message is "Forget Physics, Take Fine Arts Instead". Then, we will not have heard about him, after he received it...

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I wioll haven be

Hmmm... I think I'll be reporting this to the Lizard overlords. I believe they've banned any and all forms of temporal translocation by humanoids.

But in the event that our superiors have no objection, I'll catch you all at this evening's apocalypse at Milliway's. And no, I won't be having the steaks, I can't handle eating something that volunteers to be my dinner.

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Bah

There's too much quantum about these days. It's quantum this, quantum that! It's political correctness gone mad! And it's not recyclable you know- it's terrible for the enviroment. Quantum causes global warming, fact! I think we should ban this dangerous substance, and I shall be writing to my local council to that effect. And I might do that Downing Street petition thing as well. If anybody's bound to be anti-quantum it's Gordon Brown. He looks like he doesn't have a quantum-loving bone in his body.

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time-travelling car

I built a time-travelling car once. It was OK apart from one slight disadvantage. You could never go more than six months into the future at any one time, otherwise the tax disc would run out and you got slapped with a fine.

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sorry

I inherited a note from my great-great grandfather saying he is very sorry, he got the message but didn't have $10 so he couldn't invest it at compound interest as requested.

AndyD 8-)#

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Why I hope Cramer suceeds...

(I posted the anonymous Transactional Interpretation comment above; this is a more in depth overview of what I think. Sorry it's not a funny - I stick to my own area of exepertise ;))

Despite the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity, physicists are a rather conservative bunch, who cling to their human notions of how the universe _ought_ to work, rather than thinking the unthinkable. For example, when James Clerk Maxwell showed that the speed of light was a constant, physicists didn’t accept the ramifications but tried to reconcile it with Newtonian mechanics. Only Einstein was bold enough to say Maxwell was 100% pukka, and face up to the consequences. (Ironically, Einstein himself refused to accept Quantum Mechanics, even though it flowed from his own, Nobel-Prize winning work.)

Modern physicists are in the same sort of funk. And ultimately something has to give.

The Transaction Interpretation (TI) of Quantum Mechanics gives up on our everyday ideas of cause and effect (much treasured by physicists), to a produce a mathematically elegant description of the world of subatomic particles. It says that signals and particles don't propagate exclusively forwards in time, like one might expect, but can travel backwards in time; and "bounce" backwards and forwards, too. It's a bold, imaginative, crazy idea, which could bring about a "Galilean moment" when we realise our humans notions of causality are as accurate as Renaissance ideas about the Earth being at the centre of the universe; and it could provide new foundations for a Theory of Everything.

Now, I don't know exactly what Cramer is attempting to do (The Engineering desk didn't provide much info – perhaps El Reg needs a Quantum Mechanics/Quantum Computation desk; hint, hint ;)) But I would guess he's trying to provide support for TI. It's not going to result in us being able to talk to people in the past, or go to the Jurassic and step on butterflies. But if I had the cash to spare, I'd put a small bet on Cramer eventually succeeding. And even if he’s wrong, its the kind of radical thinking that physics desperately needs. So good luck John.

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419 scam?

I may have received this message already but as I didn't recognise the address I deleted it without reading it. Either that or my spam filter did it for me.

If we apply logic to this, the experiment has already failed. The only reason anyone should ever embark on a project involving time-travel is if you receive a message from the future telling you how to achieve it.

This could be the next Nigerian email scam.

--

Dear Sir,

You have received this message from the future. We have developed the technology to send data back through time. This project was made possible by your generous donation of £10,000 which will be deducted from your account when we receive your account details. To maintain the fabric of the time-space continuum and to stop existence imploding you must now make this donation. Failure to do so will have grave consequences for reality. Please send your account details to the following address...

Well, you get the picture...

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It's obvious where he went wrong

DARPA: "After consideration, we can't give you an award for this research."

Prof: "How about if I need a giant ape assistant and a beautiful woman tied to a lab bench?"

DARPA: "Why didn't you say so? $30 million OK?"

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Anonymous Coward

Bernie's Question

"If he really was successful in the future wouldn't we already have received his message?"

Not necessarily - he could have sent it from the future back to the past which is in the future because it's not now or back then. I think.

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El Reg could well be bringing about it's own demise....

Given that your stock in trade is essentially predicting the future, surely a device that could provide cast iron stories about what is going to happen in the future would put you out of business?

See, didn't think of that did you.

I work in insurance, best get my coat.

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Anonymous Coward

Mr. Wizard's World

I believe this all fell apart with the death of Mr. Wizard. The lack of this technical expertise is I am sure what ultimately doomed this project.

I do have a request for Mr. Cramer if he ever succeeds - please send my mom a note to use birth control - particularly in the March-May 1962 time frame. It will save me alot of grief - and if this note disappears - you'll know he was successful.

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Anonymous Coward

Mr. Wizard's World

I believe this all fell apart with the death of Mr. Wizard. The lack of this technical expertise is I am sure what ultimately doomed this project.

I do have a request for Mr. Cramer if he ever succeeds - please send my mom a note to use birth control - particularly in the March-May 1962 time frame. It will save me alot of grief - and if this note disappears - you'll know he was successful.

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Bronze badge

Why I hope Cramer suceeds...

(I posted the anonymous Transactional Interpretation comment above; this is a more in depth overview of what I think. Sorry it's not a funny - I stick to my own area of exepertise ;))

Despite the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity, physicists are a rather conservative bunch, who cling to their human notions of how the universe _ought_ to work, rather than thinking the unthinkable. For example, when James Clerk Maxwell showed that the speed of light was a constant, physicists didn’t accept the ramifications but tried to reconcile it with Newtonian mechanics. Only Einstein was bold enough to say Maxwell was 100% pukka, and face up to the consequences. (Ironically, Einstein himself refused to accept Quantum Mechanics, even though it flowed from his own, Nobel-Prize winning work.)

Modern physicists are in the same sort of funk. And ultimately something has to give.

The Transaction Interpretation (TI) of Quantum Mechanics gives up on our everyday ideas of cause and effect (much treasured by physicists), to a produce a mathematically elegant description of the world of subatomic particles. It says that signals and particles don't propagate exclusively forwards in time, like one might expect, but can travel backwards in time; and "bounce" backwards and forwards, too. It's a bold, imaginative, crazy idea, which could bring about a "Galilean moment" when we realise our humans notions of causality are as accurate as Renaissance ideas about the Earth being at the centre of the universe; and it could provide new foundations for a Theory of Everything.

Now, I don't know exactly what Cramer is attempting to do (The Engineering desk didn't provide much info – perhaps El Reg needs a Quantum Mechanics/Quantum Computation desk; hint, hint ;)) But I would guess he's trying to provide support for TI. It's not going to result in us being able to talk to people in the past, or go to the Jurassic and step on butterflies. But if I had the cash to spare, I'd put a small bet on Cramer eventually succeeding. And even if he’s wrong, its the kind of radical thinking that physics desperately needs. So good luck John.

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Anonymous Coward

No Need

If he is going to send a signal back in time then he should have received it already (depending on how far back it was sent).

I.e., on June 1st, 2010 he sends a signal back 3 years, which means it arrived a few weeks ogo (June 1st, 2007). If he didn't receive said signal then it wasn't sent so need to bother with the experiment. But then if he doesn't bother then it will never get sent, but if he received the signal on June 1st, 2007 then it obviously was.

Having said that, surely he can only send it back as far as to the piont where the equipment was setup to receive it "from the future"? The first thing he should do is set up the "receiving equipment" so that he can receive the signal from 2010 at any point. And if he does, again then there's no need to setup the the sending equipment since he has received the signal so it must have been sent...... or not....

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