For us, wanting to go back in time is as natural as thinking and breathing. Around the world, countless people, myself included, believe that a simple trip to a certain point in our past would most likely change the course of our lives, maybe for the better, because I imagine no one would like to go back and make things worse. Some people even think about this day and night, while others dismiss the thought as impossible within a few minutes. But, then again, there are those who dedicated their life's work to finding a way of accomplishing this long-standing dream.
Over the years, numerous ideas of how to create the time machine have appeared, and they cover almost all possibilities, from generating wormholes between the folds of space to accelerating a cylinder at super-high speed. However, current technical limitations mean that these hypothetical constructions will not become a reality very soon, as most of them require materials that haven't yet been discovered. And these materials have to have properties that are not yet fully understood, but merely deduced through painstaking calculation.
But the real question that arises, if we imagine that we could go back in time, is “would we really want to do it?” Understandably, the desire to change things for the better in your life is to be praised, but who is to say that a potential time traveler won't try to change things that happened in other people's past, say an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, or another friend that went through a tragic event? Regardless if, morally speaking, the change is for the better or for the worse, what gives a certain individual the right to make changes to everyone's future?
I have on numerous occasions thought of going back in time and stopping Hitler, Lenin and Stalin from ever taking power in Germany, and Russia, respectively. But such an action, which would seem minor in, say, 1920, when no one knew Hitler, would have massive repercussions on our current time line, wouldn't it? I mean, no more second world war, no more Korea and Vietnam conflicts, no more Cold War. And that would be just great, when looking at things simply.
Less victims of the war would mean less tragedy in the world, less destroyed families, less drama and so on. But then again, there are the inventions that were created on account of these wars, without which the world wouldn't look like it does today. For one, we wouldn't have jet liners and jumbo jets to carry us around the globe in a single day. We wouldn't even have rockets, boosters and space shuttles for that matter. No rovers on Mars, no Moon landing, no space probes throughout the solar system.
All these machines are based on German-produced rockets, which were created because Hitler wanted a way to reach England without actually invading it. After the war, the Americans were first to most launching facilities, and learned all the secrets that the Nazis had. On the other hand, the Russians reached the rifle, machine gun and ammunition factories and thus the AK-47 Kalashnikov appeared.
These are only few of the implications of a possible trip back in time. But imagine that you go back to save a relative from an accident. The “ripples” of your decision will be amplified by each passing second. In other words, if you go back 1 hour, the implications are not that large. But if you go back 50 years, then the consequences would be massive.
The real issue here is “are we ready, as a society, to live with such responsibilities on our shoulders?” And can we afford to say “yes” given the fact that we don't even know how the space-time continuum would react to a change. It could be that some physicists are right, in that, when we go back in time, change something, and then come back, then our reality could simply revert to its original state, as the ripples I was talking about earlier start pounding our “artificially-created” reality.
One thing's for sure – those who believe in a higher power, be it God, Allah, or Buddha, will strongly oppose any attempt of going back. If an announcement was made tomorrow, that NASA or ESA created a time machine, undoubtedly the first reaction that people would have would be fear, followed promptly by anger, and then fear again.
I don't want to incite panic in any way, but they would be right. And I say this because, if someone does go back, then he or she could inadvertently trigger a chain of events that could lead to someone's grandfather not being born. This would mean that a human being would simply disappear from the face of the Earth, without anyone ever remembering he or she ever existed.
This of course holds true only if theoreticians are right, and the past and future are connected to each other with a time line. Otherwise, a volunteer entering a time machine would remain stuck in the past, without any way of going back, and without influencing anything in the present.
You could ask yourselves if you would do this. If you would take it upon yourselves to go into the unknown and take action that could potentially shape the development of the entire human race. If you would like to have the fate of the world literally on your shoulders. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for exploring our limits and achieving the maximum that we can, but I also believe that we have to do this responsibly, in that we shouldn't hurry to make the first time travel just for the sake of it.
Some may argue that no major breakthrough was made without taking risks, and that's entirely true. I mean, almost. The risks in all other areas of science are containable. That is to say, if you take a chance to defuse a bomb and it doesn't work, a building or area gets destroyed. But if you change something in the past, then there is no cleaning up afterwards. Those things simply wouldn't have happened.
Indeed, if tomorrow we create the machine, and the science behind it is discovered 100 years from now, then the trip back in time should take place 100 years from now and not tomorrow, because the possible implications are extremely devious, simply because no one, by some theories, would know that something went wrong. Only an outside observer, stationed, say, on the Moon, would get up on its 5 feet and say “ooops, what happened?”