In the interest of full disclosure, this article detailing a fascinating and informative lecture by Dr. Ronald Mallett, a theoretical physicist and expert in the field of time travel, is about an event that already happened. That is to say, you will not be able to attend.
Unless, that is, Mallett's theories on time travel are right — and you have about $10 million to fund the construction of his time machine.
“I believe that this century — the 21st century — will be seen as the century of time travel,” Mallett told an audience of Virginia State University students and faculty that included Professor Oliver Hill Jr., son of the famed Richmond civil-rights lawyer, during a lecture Nov. 18.
Mallett, a professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, spoke of his lifelong desire to travel back in time to visit his deceased father, who died when Mallett was 10.
With this suitably tragic inspiration for his research, Mallett spent more than 30 years of his professional life developing his theories.
“It's not like my theory is based on Ron Mallett's theory of space and time,” he says, noting his reliance on Albert Einstein's theories on relativity for the basic principles involved in his research. Oh, and a well-worn comic-book version of the H.G. Wells novel, “The Time Machine,” which he read as a 10-year-old.
To hear Mallett tell it, time travel sounds simple: First you invent an extremely high-powered diode laser. Then you build a whole bunch of them, arranging them so that their crossed trajectories create a square area between the beams where space and time will be bent by gravitational forces exerted by the light photons in the laser beams. Then you use that empty space to transmit signals backward or forward through time.
Sadly, Mallett says, he will not be visiting his dad any time soon. The device he conceives of essentially operates as a telephone to the past, rather than a transporter of people or things.
And even as a communications device, Mallett says, he's come up with something that'd be more like a telegraph than a telephone, capable of transmitting the time-travel equivalent of Morse code across the fourth dimension.
“It'd basically be sending a series of ones and zeroes — like computer binary code — back in time,” Mallett says.