It takes 8 minutes for the light of the sun to reach us. Which means, when you look at the sun (hopefully on a cloudy day so that you don't sear your corneas) you are looking at something as it existed 8 minutes prior. You can never actually see the sun as it is - you can only see it as it was. For many of the stars we see, it takes 100 years for their light to reach us. You can look up at the night sky and see into a century ago.
I've always marveled at how strange it is that we can look up at the sky and literally see the past.
Being able to see the past with my own present self helps me to grasp the concept that all of time is happening at once. This theory, that past, present and future are all here, somehow accessible to us all, is nothing new. Many religions teach it, and I was presented this idea as straight up fact in my religion class at my Catholic high school. Yet it wasn't until cosmology and astrophysics advanced and we began to understand things like light years that this theory started to prove its reality to me.
I've been reading a book by Michio Kaku, a professor in theoretical physics, called Parallel Worlds. It's a book that has been taking me on a journey through the cosmos, from the Big Bang to where the Universe is (as we understand it) heading. It's a fascinating book and written for the layperson who doesn't possess a lot of scientific knowledge.
In the book, Kaku discusses what will happen billions of years from now with our Universe. In the waaaaaaaaay distant future, the Universe, which is expanding as we speak, will have expanded to such a state that there will be millions of light years between... everything. The glow of stars will fall into empty space, and they will float on, forever moving away from planets, meteors and so on, as everything falls into further isolation. Eventually, life will be impossible everywhere in the Universe, because everything will be so far apart that not a single planet will receive a drop of light. Everything will be frozen, dark and alone.
When I read that I thought, oh, how sad! We actually know how life will end - in frigid darkness. But this concept is only a jumping off point for Kaku. He posits that, as we learn more about worm holes and advance our physics studies, we, as a civilization, will develop the technology to go back... to the beginning of our own Universe. Because we'll be going back and starting over, we'll essentially create a parallel Universe of our own Universe. It will still be as glorious and magnificent as the one we know now, with all the things that make life flourish here, the sunshine, the oxygen, the combination of oxygen and hydrogen to form water, and so on.
This wild idea could even explain why we have parallel Universes - intelligent civilizations create them by going back and forth in time.
When I got to that part my disappointment turned to excitement. In a world like ours, necessity is the mother of all invention. If we need something, we will find a way to innovate it. If, so far in the future it's kind of incomprehensible, we as a society are preparing for the cold darkness of the Universe to set in, you can rest assured we're going to do everything in our power to find a way to survive.
Thinking about how technology will grow, advance and evolve based on this need is pretty freakin' cool. Most sci-fi around time travel is based on a curiosity (e.g. what would it be like if we could travel back to the dinosaurs?) But what if time travel wasn't a curiosity, but the eventual step we must take in the continuation of life?
It's so strange to think about it makes me want to laugh. The idea that we would go back in time and start over in a parallel version of our own universe, not as cave men and women, but as the people we are now... it just makes life that much more interesting and mysterious to me. When we talk about the concept of infinite possibilities we tend to think small, as in possibilities within our own lives. What if I was rich! What if I was famous! What if I could fly and be invisible!!!
This book really got me thinking big, and there can be something very liberating about taking our focus off of ourselves and putting it onto the giant, cosmic mystery of this mammoth place that is our home. This place that is so full of possibility and magic and potential that we have barely even scratched the surface of it.
So what does this idea of time travel mean for you?
If we can see the past, and we know it's as real as the sun in the sky, then how can we use that knowledge to better our lives? Perhaps it can help you to feel more confident that you really can heal past traumas or regrets in your life. Those things are not finished and final things in the past, but rather a part of a fabric of life that connects to everything else. They are as organic, alive and tangible as much as you and I are. You can send waves of healing and love to the past, because it's all connected and it's all existing at once. Further, when you decide to heal the past, you heal something that ripples out and connects to you now.
The past is not something you have to feel depressed about. It's something you can work with. The science we have around this is in its infancy. But that doesn't mean you can't explore this yourself, searching for what feels right. Perhaps you will take an event from your past that you wished had been different. You might look at it and visualize it being different, happening in the way you wanted it to happen. Imagine it is it like a point on a blanket, you in one corner of the blanket, and your past in the other, like a distant star in a deep corner of the Universe. You keep envisioning the incident different, just a bit at a time, maybe for five minutes a day, until it really feels as if you altered that corner of the blanket, reweaving it to what you wanted it to be, one thread at a time.
Is there proof that you can manipulate the energy of the past in this way? Do we have evidence that supports you can recreate your life in the way you really want? No, not yet. But don't let that stop you. It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time before gravity was a scientific concept. People knew things fell to earth, but they hadn't the faintest idea why or what it meant. But somebody was curious, somebody wanted to know more, and so they asked questions. They looked beyond what they were told and went in search of their own answers. Cheers to you Sir Newton.
And don't think because you're not a scientist you can't explore, question, theorize and seek. The writer Edgar Allen Poe was actually an amateur astronomer and a few of the theories he came up with turned out to be true (and extremely helpful)! Playing with energy and the concept of time is something you can freely do, so long as you have an adventurous spirit and a desire to peer behind the mysterious fabric of this Universe, this cradle of infinite and bizarre possibility, that we know so little about.
Our common sense does not represent reality. We are the oddballs of the universe. We inhabit an usual piece of real estate, where temperatures, densities, and velocities are quiet mild. However, in the "real universe," temperatures can be blisteringly hot in the center of stars, or numbingly cold in the outer space, and subatomic particles zipping through space regularly travel near light-speed. In other words, our common sense evolved in a highly unusual, obscure part of the universe, Earth; it is not surprising that our common sense fails to grasp the true universe. The problem lies not in relativity but in assuming that our common sense represents reality.
- Michio Kaku, Parallel Worlds