The boredom, the constant twiddling of thumbs, binge-watching The Bill from the very first episode of series one – unemployment isn’t quite what you’d hoped it would be when you were first given your marching orders is it? Despite wondering why the hell you were ever a fan of The Bill when you watched the episodes in question the first time around, you’ll also go into a mild panic every time the doorbell rings in case someone from the council tax department tries to find out if anybody lives at your current address.
On that note therefore, have you ever considered escaping your current life and travelling into the future?
Hopefully by then they will have created a virtual reality remake of The Bill whereby users get to experience what it feels like to be the character Tosh Lyons for a couple of hours.
If travelling at 88 miles an hour through the boundaries of space time sounds like it could be a blast (a 1.21 Gigawatt blast to be exact) here’s what you’ll need to do to become successful:
1. Travel extremely quickly
Don’t believe what you see in the movies. Whilst 88 miles per hour is no snail’s pace, if you want to travel into the future you’ll need to go a damn sight quicker than that. Einstein’s theory of relativity dictates that as you approach the speed of light, time will slow down for you in relation to how quickly time moves for everyone else. The closer you actually get to the speed of light therefore, the more dramatic the effects will be and it has been calculated that a single second for the protons that whizz around the Large Hadron Collider at 99.9999991% of the speed of light equates to roughly 11 months for the rest of us. It’s worth bearing in mind the next time the Mrs. is ‘getting ready’ and says she’ll only be a couple of minutes.
2. Use the power of gravity
Einstein’s other idea is that the perception of time passing is dictated by the amount of gravity that you’re subjected to (we’re not sure what he had been smoking on this particular day). The closer to the centre of the earth you are, the slower time passes so in effect, time passes slower for your feet than it does for your head – a problem that is often experienced by lower league football players. To travel into the future using gravity therefore, you’d need to place yourself close enough to a black hole for the effects of its enormous gravitational pull to slow down time relative to those that are further away from its event horizon. Obviously you’d need to be pretty precise about how close you can get or you’ll end up being squished into a cosmic nothingness along with everything else. This effect can most readily be seen in GPS satellites that have to tweak their systems to account for the time dilation they experience as a result of the gravitational pull generated by travelling through space at 9000 mph. If they didn’t do this, ‘take the next turning on the left’ could send you over a cliff edge or into a river – which would inadvertently cause your blood vessels to dilate through extreme anger!
3. Use suspended animation
This isn’t as the phrase suggests, a way for HR departments to discipline naughty cartoonists that have just committed a misdemeanour in the workplace. It is however, a way of slowing down or even stopping the body’s main functions so that they can be restarted later on. For example, certain bacteria use suspended animation to slow down their metabolism until such a point as the right conditions kick it back into action again eg. heat, moisture, food etc. Certain mammals like bears and squirrels use hibernation to slow their metabolism down – essentially a form of suspended animation. Suspended animation can also be easily achieved during workplace meetings when the boss is giving a presentation on the quarterly performance figures.
4. Use a Wormhole
[Insert joke here]
Now that we have that sorted, a wormhole is actually a tunnel-like structure that links separate points in spacetime that can be extremely far apart such as billions of light years, or short distances such as a few meters, or different universes, or different points in time. Some scientists believe these structures are constantly popping in and out of existence on a sub-atomic level and if you could capture one and upscale it to human size, it would in theory be possible to move to a different point in time. Think of it as the Star Trek equivalent of that party trick where someone tries to put a condom over their entire head.
5. Use light
Unfortunately this is not as simple as shining a torch and calling out the year that you want to be transported to. What you’d actually need to do is use a rotating cylinder of light to twist the very fabric of spacetime. The American physicist Ron Mallet proposed that anything that was dropped inside the cylinder would be dragged about in both space and time in a way that is not too dissimilar to the way a bubble moves on top of a mug of coffee when you switch one of these on:
Mallet said that the correct geometry could result in time travel in either the past or the future.
Mr. Mallet has tried to secure funding to further develop his rather outlandish theory since it was first published in the year 2000, but his lack of success may presumably have something to do with the fact that whether you’re in 1955 or indeed 1985, you’d still just be spinning around in a rotating cylinder of light without a copy of Biff Tanen’s Sports Almanac within easy reach.