Time Travel

Ends Of The World: Time Traveling Tourists

There’s always a lot of speculation about what will happen when the first time machine is switched on.

Most physicists, if they believe time travel is possible, suggest that its user will only be able to travel as far back in time as when the machine was first created and initialized.

Like wormholes, or Kerr black holes — you can’t travel back to before your means of time travel was invented.

This raises an interesting possibility.

The First Time Machine

When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was about to begin its strange voyage into the realm of quantum research, many theorized it would become the world’s first time machine.

Its unprecedented power would cause something to happen — something during one of however many particle collisions — to create a closed time-like curve, or wormhole, from which the first visitors from the future would arrive.

In February 2008, The Telegraph reported on the physicists who believed it could happen, that the year the Large Hadron Collider was powered up would effectively become “Year Zero” for temporal travel.

It was a curious possibility, one that was mostly disregarded and obviously has yet to occur.

But what if it did?

Refugees From The Future

Time Portal
Image: Flickr/Man & His Cam via CC by 2.0

Just imagine: A single portal stretching from now until the end of time.

The moment such a machine was switched on, we’d likely be inundated with visitors from the future, wishing to see the time when the portal first opened.

But how many would there be?

Would the number of visitors be few, just passing by out of curiosity? Or would we be swarmed by a near-infinite number of time traveling tourists?

Or maybe they wouldn’t be tourists.

If time travel is possible, what better way to escape the ultimate demise of humanity — or, indeed, the universe — than simply traveling to the past?

This would potentially create a cycle, an infinite loop of people constantly traveling to the past to escape their doom, as far back as they could possibly go — to the moment the machine was turned on, the moment the wormhole opened.

Depending on the nature of the machine, the present would become overwhelmed, and eventually the amount of refugees from the future would become unsustainable.

They would never stop.

How would the present cope with such a scenario? If the machine was man-made, it could simply be turned off. But if it were something more exotic — an actual wormhole in space, something we couldn’t control — the present time would be powerless to prevent an ever-increasing number of refugees from the future filling the solar system, the galaxy, the universe.

That’s just a weird sci-fi scenario, obviously, with its own plot holes and complications. But it’s something to consider.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.