Debate Info

For the Motion Against the Motion
Debate Score:92
Total Votes:123
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Argument Ratio

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 For the Motion (37)
 Against the Motion (42)

Debate Creator

xMathFanx(1742) pic

Time Travel to the Past is Impossible

"Time travel into the past, which is what people usually mean by time travel, is a much more uncertain proposition. There are many solutions to Einstein's equations of General Relativity that allow a person to follow a timeline that would result in her (or him) encountering herself--or her grandmother--at an earlier time. The problem is deciding whether these solutions represent situations that could occur in the real universe, or whether they are mere mathematical oddities incompatible with known physics. No experiment or observation has ever indicated that time travel is occurring in our universe. Much work has been done by theoretical physicists in the past decade to try to determine whether, in a universe that is initially without time travel, one can build a time machine--in other words, if it is possible to manipulate matter and the geometry of space-time in such a way as to create new paths that circle back in time." 

See these short sources:  


The fundamental question of this debate is, "Is it possible to time travel to the past in a "Back to the Future" type format?" That is, could you travel into the past and meet your parents before you were born? Could you travel back to the "Wild West"?, ect., ect.


For the Motion

Side Score: 44

Against the Motion

Side Score: 48
1 point

I don't know either the science or philosophy behind it. But it seems logical to me that if at any point in the future it were indeed to have become possible then we already would now in the present have seen evidence of it in our past. Right? Because the impact of them going back would ripple through to the present and we would already see signs.

Side: For the Motion
1 point

I have a theory which relies of the continuing advancement of scientific achievements, that describes how events in history could be observed as they were actually happening although the observer(s) would not be able to participate in the action.

I'm not sure if I could be bothered to outline my scientifically based hypothesis but if you're genuinely interested and are prepared to keep an open mind I could run it past you.

Side: For the Motion

Hi brother.

I believe it works like this.

Relativity predicts time dilation and the existence of time dilation proves that time travel is possible, either into the past or into the future. If a person wanted to travel into the past all they would need to do is move into an area where time runs more slowly. In fact, technically speaking if you come down off a hill you have travelled into the past. This is because the closer you are to a gravitational field, the slower time becomes. Hence, we can say that time is not absolute but rather relative to the situation of the person observing it.

However, what appears to potentially be impossible is to travel either backwards or forwards within the same frame of reference. That is, in order to time travel I must necessarily cover distance. To put it another way, I am able to travel to somebody else's past or future, but not to my own. In Hawking's famous thought experiment a person is able to take a long journey away from Earth and return to the same frame of reference to potentially access the future, but again this is not their future, since they have been away from Earth's frame of reference.

If we look at it realistically, we can see that travelling to our own past or future is a seemingly insurmountable task, because everything else in the universe needs to meet the exact same conditions which existed at that time. As you will know the universe is in a constant state of acceleration, which means we would have to change the state of the entire universe in order to time travel within own frame of reference. Furthermore, even if that were a possibility, there would still have to be an absolute version of time which applies to the entire universe, and that is exactly what relativity refutes.

Side: Against the Motion
Amarel(5136) Clarified
1 point

To put it another way, I am able to travel to somebody else's past or future

This part doesn’t quite fit. Saying that you are going to someone else’s past implies that there is a future version that they are experiencing as present. You go to their past only if measured by your time, which they are not on. However fast or slow you’ve traveled, when sharing a location and speed with another, it is both of your presents.

Side: For the Motion
1 point

This part doesn’t quite fit.

It fits. You simply don't understand it.

Saying that you are going to someone else’s past implies that there is a future version that they are experiencing as present.

This is nonsense.

Side: For the Motion
1 point

Bell's Theorem


Side: Against the Motion
1 point

A hundred years ago, we were certain we would never be able to determine the composition of stars. Yet here we are. "Impossible" is just a relative term.

Side: Against the Motion

Time travel can only be to the past and back to the 'present' the 'future' (if time is real) is the one you can't travel to.

Side: Against the Motion
xMathFanx(1742) Disputed
1 point

Time travel can only be to the past and back to the 'present' the 'future' (if time is real) is the one you can't travel to.

This is the opposite of what we know thus far. That is, it has been demonstrated in controlled experiments that "time travel" to the future happens all of the time in the universe. Moreover, the idea is fundamental to Einstein's theory of relativity. "Time travel" to the past however remains an open topic up for debate at the moment.

Side: For the Motion
1 point

If you can travel to the future, that means we are not in the present but in the past of the present and the 'future' is the real present or nearer to it.

Side: Against the Motion
Amarel(5136) Disputed
1 point

I’m constantly traveling to the future. I can’t seem to do otherwise.

Side: For the Motion
0 points

On the contrary, every moment you think it's the present, it's already the past. You are in perpetual past but nice try at some witty banter though, I caught on very fast to the metaphysical satire. ;)

Side: Against the Motion