A Real-Life Doctor Who
A physics professor at The University of Connecticut is going to create the first real TARDIS... or something like that. The Daily Mail reports:
"Ronald Mallett has overcome poverty and prejudice to become one of only a handful of top-flight black physicists in the United States... But there has been only one motivation: to build a time machine. And, after years of painstaking research, Mallett is sure he's cracked it... His time machine went public in 2001, when New Scientist magazine ran an article about his design, and TV appearances followed. 'Mallett isn't mad,' the New Scientist article said. 'None of the known laws of physics forbids time-travel. In theory, shunting matter back and forth through time shouldn't be that difficult.'"But how does one build a time-machine? Scientists have been outlining theoretical ways to construct one for a long time. One way would be to spin a huge cylinder out in space and drag spacetime into loops -- but the cylinder would have to weigh about as much as the sun, and be compressed into a tube 60 miles long and 40 miles across. Another way would be to rip into the fabric of spacetime with either a black hole or nuclear bombs -- but that doesn't sound too practical or safe either. However,
"Mallett's solution is much simpler. He thinks he can reverse time by using just a circulating beam of light. Light is energy, and energy can cause spacetime to warp and bend, just like gigantic spinning cylinders, he explains... The details are complex, to say the least. But, in essence, Mallett believes it is possible to use a series of four circulating laser light beams swirling spacetime around like 'a spoon stirring milk into coffee'. If you were to walk into this 'timetunnel' - which would resemble a large vortex of light a few feet across - you could emerge at some point in the past. He thinks he can build a prototype machine in the lab, using today's technology, with funds of just $250,000 (£120,000)... [But] it would only be possible to travel back in time to a point after the machine was first switched on. If you turned on the machine, on January 1 say, and left it running for three months, you could enter the machine in March and only travel back as far as January 1. So no trips back to the Middle Ages or to Ancient Rome."A real life Doctor Who indeed.
(Hat-tip: Jim Davila.)