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  • Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Volume 50
  • March 2002, pp. 169-200

Time Travel and Modern Physics


Time travel has been a staple of science fiction. With the advent of general relativity it has been entertained by serious physicists. But, especially in the philosophy literature, there have been arguments that time travel is inherently paradoxical. The most famous paradox is the grandfather paradox: you travel back in time and kill your grandfather, thereby preventing your own existence. To avoid inconsistency some circumstance will have to occur which makes you fail in this attempt to kill your grandfather. Doesn't this require some implausible constraint on otherwise unrelated circumstances? We examine such worries in the context of modern physics.

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D. Deutsch 1991. ‘Quantum mechanics near closed timelike curves,Physical Review D 44, 3197–217. and

J. Friedman and M. Morris 1991. ‘The Cauchy problem for the scalar wave equation is well defined on a class of spacetimes with closed time-like curves,’ Physical Review letters 66, 401–4.

D. Malament 1985b. ‘Minimal acceleration requirements for “time travel” in Gödel spacetime,’ Journal of Mathematical Physics 26, 774–77.

J. Wheeler and R. Feynman 1949. ‘Classical electrodynamics in terms of direct interparticle action,’ Reviews of Modern Physics 21, 425–34.

U. Yurtsever 1990. ‘Test fields on compact spacentimes,’ Journal of Mathematical Physics 31, 3064–78.

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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