Fact Over Fiction: Could The Time-Bending Tech In Hollywood Movie “Tenet” Become A Reality?

Ayaan DxBby:


Hollywood savant Christopher Nolan certainly has a knack for inspiring our awe of science — most recently with edge-of-your-seat blockbuster Tenet. Last year, we took a deep-dive into the evolving dream-science reflected in his movie Inception. So, as many enthusiastic cinema goers book a second viewing of Tenet in an effort to grasp the complex concepts within, it seems only fair that we set out upon yet another quest for scientific understanding! Entering the realm of time-travel, and even altering the direction of time, we were instantly curious: how close are real-world scientists to realising such fantasy concepts? Ever since H.G. Wells popularized the dream of such feats with his 1895 novel The Time Machine, many have pursued them, but how close have we come?

In A Sense, We’ve Already Mastered Time Manipulation

Take a moment to glance at your smartphone. Whenever that pocket sized device interacts with GPS satellites orbiting above us, it ultimately relies on our understanding of how speed manipulates time. Within our daily lives, we imagine time to be a fixed-form progression, however — just as Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity laid out — in truth, time can be, and is, dilated by movement. Einstein’s work set us on path for our contemporary understanding that the closer an object, or person, gets to travelling at the speed of light, the slower its/their experience of time will be.

An early test of this theory consisted of comparing two clocks. One remained on the earth, while the other was flown around the world in an aeroplane, travelling in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation. When the two clocks were reunited, the clock that had been travelling at speed was indeed behind the clock that had remained on the ground. This theory is expanded when we imagine what might happen if future space travel allowed astronauts to travel faster than the speed of light, allowing astronauts to journey to the centre of our galaxy and back again — some 60,000 light years — within their lifetimes. If such a feat were possible, the astronauts making this journey would return to discover than tens of thousands of years had elapsed here on earth.

While we currently lack the capacity to achieve travel faster than the speed of light — or even the certainty of its possibility — we do rely on our understanding of time dilatation to make modern satellite technology work, as equipment on each satellite is required to take the impact of time dilation into account, in order to remain synced with our smartphones!

And The Concept Of Time Travel?

Dilating time is all good and well, but what about being able to step from one moment in time, directly through to another? The work of the great Albert Einstein also predicted the capacity to create such a phenomenon, in the form of time loops that would allow an event to exist simultaneously in the past and the future. The term used to express this idea today is “wormholes”, and there is perhaps no better mind to consult on such a matter than astrophysicist Ron Mallett. An avid fan of H.G. Wells’ aforementioned novel, Mallett lost his father suddenly at the age of ten. From that moment, he was spurned to begin a life-long quest to achieve time travel, and go back and visit his father in the past.

To date, Mallet’s career represents six decades of research and experimentation, focused largely on Einstein’s theories, and the study of black holes. Mallet explains that Einstein’s description of the relationship between time and space in fact expresses that “the stronger gravity is, the more time will slow down,” and thus, the force of gravity itself holds the capacity to bend time. By Mallet’s understanding, what can be bent, can also be twisted. A wormhole would represent a twist in time, allowing entry at one end, from one point in time, and exit from the other, at an altogether different point in time.

At present, the work of Mallet and his peers is little more than highly advanced theory — which we presently lack the technology to realise — and many argue that the absence of time travellers from the future suggests that their work will not succeed. However, the romantics among us may prefer to subscribe to astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan’s theory that those from the future are indeed among us, but are simply choosing not to reveal their presence!

The Dilemma Of Paradoxes

One of the concepts addressed in Tenet is the idea of paradoxes. In the movie, the characters must at all costs avoid encountering themselves, because of the danger of time related paradoxes. The root of this concept can be found in the Grandfather Paradox theory, that explores the idea of what might happen if a person were to travel back in time to before their grandfather had children, and kill him. In doing so, the time traveller would make their own birth impossible — so would they cease to exist? And, if no longer in existence, and no longer able to time travel back and kill their grandfather, would they simultaneously guarantee their own existence?

Such is the potential for time travel-related paradox. However, recent research from Germain Tobar, of the University of Queensland in Australia, has shed doubt on our understanding of time related paradoxes. Tobar’s equations pose the argument that space-time would in fact adapt itself to avoid paradoxes. He theorises that if a time-traveller were to intervene in the past, events would simply adjust themselves to eliminate inconsistencies. Does this mean free-reign time travel, with no need to worry about the consequences?

What About Sending An Object — Or Person — Back Through Time?

Of course, the dominating time-bending concept featured in Tenet is a machine devised to flip the direction through time of that which passes through it. This idea perfectly manifested an adrenaline-pumping and mind-bending narrative in which some characters were moving forwards, while others backwards. Today, we certainly have the capacity to look backwards through time, once again thanks to the speed of light. When we use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to view distant galaxies, the light takes so long to reach us that what we see is in fact a vision of what existed many millions of years ago.

When it comes to the dynamics of an object, such as the bullet seen in Tenet, when we discuss altering its passage in time, we really mean reversing its entropy. Entropy, as a fundamental principle of the universe, describes the tendency of all things to get less and less organized. For example, cells age, and gasses spread out. Speaking to the LA Times, theoretical physicist Claudia De Rham points out that we have the capacity to slow entropy — just as we do when we put something in the freezer, slowing its decay — but that we do not currently have the capacity to invert it.

Indulging In The Fantasy Of Time Travel

As we each wait out the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic — and many wonder what the future will look like, while dreaming of travel without the potential peril of taking a plane or train — the idea of being able to bend time, or even jump from one time to another offers a particularly seductive type of escapism! If you could travel to any place, at any time, where would you go, and who would you visit? If you could move backwards through space-time, what mischief might you be tempted to unleash? For now, such possibilities remain but equations on the pages of our brightest minds, but who knows what the future may hold.

Make Fantasy A Reality With GRAYLL

While we might not be able to journey through time just yet, most of us dream of the opportunity to achieve far more realistic fantasies. The mission behind new digital investment App GRAYLL is to provide just that: to make next-generation financial freedom accessible to everyone, liberating each and every user to focus on their prosperity, health, and happiness. When it comes to wealth inception, seeing is believing — so experience this new evolution in prosperity creation for yourself.

GRAYLL is a user-friendly App that was created to open the door to digital investments for all, in an era that sees traditional savings accounts offer interest that is little-better than inflation. AI driven algorithms will steer you through effortless capital growth, with astounding accuracy, unfettered by human biases.

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