Time Travel:

Human beings have always been curious about the past - curious about people and places that existed before most of us were ever born. Over the centuries, may scholars and writers have speculated about the possibilities of time travel. Almost everyone has wished for the opportunity to to gravel back in time and witness some famous event in history. Who wouldn't want to meet Alexander the Great, Moses, Ghengis Khan, King Sejong, or Martin Luther King, if they had the chance? Many people have also wished they could travel forward in time to see what the world would be like in the future.

In one sense human beings ARE time travellers. But we can only move forward in time, and only at one constant rate. If you accidentally knock a cup of water off of a table, for example, it falls to the floor, spilling water everywhere. As far as we know, it is impossible to make time move backwards - to make the water flow back into the cup and make the cup leap back up onto the table. But everyone has wished for the opportunity to go back in time and 'do something over again' or to 'not make the same mistake once'.

But some physicists are beginning to think that someday it may be possible, under very limited circumstances, to travel back in time. The technology required for time travel is far beyond present-day technology, but the possibilities of time travel rais some interesting (and very confusing) questions. For example, what if you travelled back in time to meet one of your ancestors, but something goes wrong and you accidentally kill him? Does this mean you will never be born? And if you are never born, how can you travel backwards in time to kill your ancestor?

Are you confused yet? You should be! Many science fiction stories have been written about the hazards of time travel. If you travel back in time, you may change events in history so that when you return to your own time, the world will not be the same as when you left it.

It has been said that the most important feature that separates human beings from the animals is that they can think about and plan for the future. Fortune tellers are a good example of the eternal wish to know what the future holds. But wouldn't it be wonderful to travel forward in time, to see the events of history in the far distant future? Would wouldn't like to know how their future will turn out, or the futures of their friends, family and children?

Questions for Discussion

1. What do you think about time travel? If you could go back in time and meet somebody famous, who would you like to meet?

2. If you could travel backwards in time and witness a famous event in history, what would you like to see? Why?

3. Which would you prefer to visit: the past or the future? Why?

4. Suppose that a time machine could take you to either the past or the future, but it could not return you to the present. Where would you rather go? Why?

5. Have you ever wished you could go back to an earlier time in your own life and do something over again? If so, what would it be?

6. Imagine for a moment that you could travel forward in time and discover how your future life turns out, including the time and date of your death. Would this be a good thing or a bad thing? Why? Would you do it? Why or why not?