David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 169 (1):91 - 124 (2009)
We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no-go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time machine. We explain the conundrum that must be faced in providing a satisfactory definition and propose a resolution. Roughly, we require that all extensions of the time machine region contain closed timelike curves; the actions of the time machine operator are then sufficiently “potent” to guarantee that closed timelike curves appear. We then review no-go theorems based on classical general relativity, semi-classical quantum gravity, quantum field theory on curved spacetime, and Euclidean quantum gravity. Our verdict on the question of our title is that no result of sufficient generality to underwrite a confident “yes” has been proven. Our review of the no-go results does, however, highlight several foundational problems at the intersection of general relativity and quantum physics that lend substance to the search for an answer.
|Keywords||General relativity Time travel Time machines QFT on curved spacetime Causality Closed timelike curves|
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References found in this work BETA
Frank Arntzenius, Time Travel and Modern Physics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Jeremy Butterfield & Chris Isham (1999). On the Emergence of Time in Quantum Gravity. In , The Arguments of Time. Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press. 111--168.
John Earman (1995). Bangs, Crunches, Whimpers, and Shrieks: Singularities and Acausalities in Relativistic Spacetimes. Oxford University Press.
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Carlo Rovelli (2007). Quantum Gravity. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
John Byron Manchak (2011). No No-Go: A Remark on Time Machines. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (1):74-76.
Cord Friebe (2012). Twins' Paradox and Closed Timelike Curves: The Role of Proper Time and the Presentist View on Spacetime. [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science 43 (2):313-326.
Joachim Pfarr (2010). Closed Timelike Curves—Time and Again. Foundations of Physics 40 (9-10):1326-1332.
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