In a Superman movie, Superman flies near light speed and can reverse time?
Was the movie script following scientific fact, or is the idea of Superman traveling back in time simply ridiculous?
According to the writers, Superman can travel through time. Almost the first thing that Superman ever did was to travel through time 27 years into the future.
Is Time Travel Possible?
When looking for facts about time travel, I thought NASA may be a good place to start.
On one of NASA’s websites, they look at the idea of time travel and state unequivocally that Time Travel is possible.
Over a century ago a famous scientist, you may have heard of him, called Albert Einstein thought about how time works.
He came up with a theory that time is linked to space.
He went on to say that the universe has a law, and that was that nothing can travel faster than 186,000 MPs (the speed light travels).
This theory states that the faster you might travel, the slower you will experience time.
Over the years, scientists have done a lot of experimentation to prove that this theory holds.
One experiment had two identical clocks. These clocks were synchronized, and one was placed on an airplane, the other stayed on Earth.
The one on the airplane flew in the same direction that planet Earth was moving.
After the airplane had completed its flight around the planet, scientists compared the time on each of the clocks.
They found that the clock on the airplane was fractionally behind the Earthbound clock.
This proved that on the airplane time had passed fractionally slower than 1 second each second.
Another factor Einstein claimed would affect time was gravity. We can confirm that this is true by considering the satellites that carry GPS.
Not only do these satellites experience the same effect that we saw illustrated in the airplane example but because the GPS Satellites are so high, gravity is much weaker there, and this changes the rate that each second passes.
Scientists are forced to make corrections to the GPS clocks to keep the system working.
So, according to NASA time travel is a real thing, and flying around the world does affect the amount of time that passes, but not quite the same way that we see in Superman movies.
Possible Ways How Superman Can Time Travel
There are basically two ways how Superman could travel in time – Light Speed and Wormholes.
As I have already said, Einstein said that nothing could travel faster than Light, which is 186,282 mps, or orbiting the Earth at 8 times every second.
Just imagine how fast that is!
Humans have already moved sub-atomic particles at 99.99% of the speed of light, at the Large Hadron Collider, but according to David Gross (Physic Nobel Laureate) that is as far as it goes.
To move objects at a speed of light would require an infinite source of energy, and the mass of what we were moving would become infinite.
The only reason we got so close at the Large Hadron Collider was that the sub-atomic particles they were shooting had no mass (so that is cheating really).
Unfortunately, Superman has mass, so he physically could not reach or exceed the speed of light, no matter what the writers of the comic say.
The fastest recorded speed of Superman is about 2,000mps (substantially slower than 186,282 MPs which is the speed of light).
So, NASA tells us that Time Travel is possible, and Nobel Physics Laureate tells us that traveling faster than light is not possible.
There must be another way that Superman can time travel then.
Einstein blew our hopes of faster than light travel turning into Time travel with his “Nothing moves faster than light theory”.
So, we will now move onto 1915 when Einstein came up with another theory that is a bit more helpful. In 1915 Einstein published his “General Theory of Relativity.”
The application of this law introduces the idea of a wormhole.
But first, let us step back a moment. When we look at a distant star in the sky, we are looking at that star as it was in the past.
We are looking into the past. If we look at one of our neighboring stars “Alpha Centauri” we are seeing Alpha Centauri as it was 4 years ago, since that is how long it takes for the light to reach here.
What if there were a way that we could reach Alpha Centauri quicker than four years?
We cannot do it if we travel in a straight line as we cannot move faster than light. This is where we come back to Wormholes.
The theory behind a wormhole is that they link two points in space by warping of space-time.
This would mean that if such a wormhole existed, we could reach Alpha Centauri quicker than it takes light to get there in a straight line. So, we have effectively traveled in time.
Superman Travels Through Wormholes
Krypton, where Superman was born is about 27 lightyears from Earth.
When Superman was launched into space by his parents and sent to Earth, he was a baby.
With nothing able to travel faster than light, we know that the journey must take more than 27 years (probably a lot more).
So, superman should have been in his thirties when he reached Earth.
There is a problem because we know that the Kent family found a baby in the spaceship.
It follows that Superman must have traveled through a wormhole to be able to make the journey so fast.
Superman also was on Earth before the light from Krypton’s destruction reached Earth. In fact, Superman was already an adult when that happened.
Creating Wormholes for Time Travel
Unless Superman’s parents had just shot him off into space without a specific target, Superman’s parents must have had a way of creating a wormhole that led to where they wanted to send him.
They were members of an extremely advanced people after all.
If Superman’s parents were able to create and use wormholes as a mode of transport, then Superman must also have had that knowledge, as on his journey he had learned all the science of Krypton.
We must also remember that when we look at Alpha Centauri, our neighbor, in the night sky., we are seeing where Alpha Centauri was four years ago.
Remember that the Earth is rotating on its own axis and is also rotating around the sun.
The star we look at may well be in a Galaxy that is itself rotating.
Calculating where to place a wormhole if you wanted to arrive at a certain planet each year, is no easy task. But we know how fast Superman can make calculations.
Returning to actual science it has been established that to open a wormhole would require some strange form of matter to hold them open.
Physicist Kip Thorne has utilized Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to predict that wormholes could be created this way.
They have even made this rare form of matter on Earth (but in tiny quantities).
Still, Science is at the early stages of exploring this and since Krypton is so much in advance of Earth when it comes to technology, it would be reasonable to suggest that they solved this a long time ago.
The Final Theory For Superman And Time Travel
We know that Superman traveled in time when he first came to Earth.
We know that Superman has traveled vast distances that would require faster than light travel to complete the journeys in the available time frame.
What if Superman was not simply traveling many times the speed of light, as was suspected, and was using Kryptonian science to open custom, meaning that Superman was traveling in time and not at great speed but wormholes instead.
For shorter distances inside the solar system, this would not be required as we do not deny that Superman has speed, which is incredibly fast, but below the speed of light.
The time travel through wormholes is left for instances when Superman needs to be somewhere in the future or the past.
I find it absolutely fascinating how the fictional character and science can be hung together like this, taking fictional information and science fiction, and then seeing how they fit into real science.
In this article, we have taken a superpower of Superman, his ability to travel in time, and used real-world science to try and establish how it could be achieved.
In this article, we have linked speed, gravity wormholes, and a strange matter that keeps wormholes open, and then attempted to demonstrate how a fictional Superman power could be based on the same principle.
NASA said that time travel was possible (in a strictly limited form).
We have taken that and used the work of other scientists to show that Superman could use time travel.