No, time travel as commonly portrayed in science fiction, where one can travel backward or forward in time, cannot be achieved by going faster than the speed of sound or any other sub-light-speed motion. Time travel, as described in popular science fiction, is currently not supported by our current scientific understanding and the laws of physics. Here’s why:
- Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity: According to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which was published in 1905, it is postulated that as an object with mass accelerates and approaches the speed of light (denoted as “c”), its relative time (time experienced by the object) slows down compared to a stationary observer’s time. This effect is known as time dilation. As the object’s velocity approaches “c,” time dilation becomes more pronounced, but it never allows for time to be reversed or for travel to the past.
- Time Dilation and Speed of Sound: The speed of sound is significantly slower than the speed of light. For example, in Earth’s atmosphere, the speed of sound is roughly 343 meters per second (about 1,125 feet per second). Even if an object were to travel at supersonic speeds, it would not approach the speed of light and experience significant time dilation. Time dilation effects become noticeable only at a significant fraction of the speed of light.
- Theoretical Challenges: Theoretical physics suggests that achieving the necessary conditions for time travel, such as traveling faster than the speed of light or creating closed timelike curves, would require exotic and currently unattainable forms of matter and energy, such as negative energy or hypothetical materials with negative mass.
- Paradoxes: Time travel to the past could lead to paradoxes, such as the famous “grandfather paradox,” where one could potentially travel back in time and prevent their own existence, creating logical inconsistencies. Resolving such paradoxes remains a challenge.
While time travel to the future is theoretically possible, it would require extremely high speeds, close to the speed of light, or the presence of strong gravitational fields (as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity). However, even in these cases, time travel would be limited to traveling to the future, not the past.
In summary, while the concept of time travel is a fascinating topic in science fiction, achieving it in reality would require conditions and technologies that are currently beyond our scientific understanding and technological capabilities. The laws of physics, as currently understood, do not support time travel as commonly imagined in popular culture.