Time Travel Theoretically Possible Without Leading To Paradoxes, Researchers Say : NPR

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A dog dressed as Marty McFly from Back to the Future attends the 25th Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in 2015. New research says time travel might be possible without the problems McFly encountered.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images


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Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

A dog dressed as Marty McFly from Back to the Future attends the 25th Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in 2015. New research says time travel might be possible without the problems McFly encountered.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

“The past is obdurate,” Stephen King wrote in his book about a man who goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. “It doesn’t want to be changed.”

Turns out, King might have been onto something.

Countless science fiction tales have explored the paradox of what would happen if you do something in the past that endangers the future. Perhaps one of the most famous pop culture examples is Back to the Future, when Marty McFly went back in time and accidentally stopped his parents from meeting, putting his own existence in jeopardy.

But maybe McFly wasn’t in much danger after all. According a new paper from researchers at the University of Queensland, even if time travel were possible, the paradox couldn’t actually exist.

Researchers ran the numbers, and determined that even if you make a change in the past, the timeline would essentially self-correct, ensuring that whatever happened to send you back in time would still happen.

“Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus,” University of Queensland scientist Fabio Costa told the university’s news service.

“However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected — that would eliminate the motivation for you to