Driving home a few minutes ago from an evening engagement I had some thoughts about the nature of time. It's ten past nine, it's dark, it's raining, and I'm very sleepy indeed. It seemed to me, at that moment, that it was tremendously late; surely ours should be the only car on the road. What's everyone else doing out at such an hour?! The idea that all over the Greater Boston area young folks are just gearing up to start their evenings about blows my mind.
But I shouldn't worry too much: I'm not the only one to entirely fail to understand the workings of time. In perhaps the worst article about physics ever to be published, a "science" reporter at Fox News explains how recent work on observing quantum states means that—wait for it—"Time travel may be feasible".
Sure it's feasible! In fact, don't tell anyone but I'm time-traveling right now. Unfortunately, the relativistic effects of moving forward into the future of beyond 10:00pm means that I couldn't concentrate enough to fully absorb the article's finer points (scienceblogs.com did, if you're interested), but I will comment on this:
Consider Sergei Krikalev, the Russian astronaut who flew six space missions. Richard Gott, a physicist at Princeton University, says Krikalev aged 1/48th of a second less than the rest of us because he orbited at very high speeds. And to age less than someone means you've jumped into the future — you did not experience the same present. In a sense, he says, Krikalev time-traveled to the future — and back again!
"Back again"? Not so much. He went into the future slightly faster than the rest of us, sure, but we're all here together now. It turns out the future isn't much more interesting than the past; especially when that past is only 1/48th of a second ago. No flying cars, I'm afraid. Though we do have iPads now, which I suppose is something.