Time travel is the concept of movement between certain points in time, analogous to moving between different points in space by an object or a person, typically using a hypothetical device known as a time machine. Many have been fascinated by the concept, hoping one day they will be able to travel back in time to change their past decisions. However, renowned physicist Brian Cox has ruled out that possibility, but not the idea of time travel altogether.
Dr Cox, who is best known to the public for being his work with the BBC, is a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester.
However, the 51-year-old also once sat on a panel for ABC’s “Q&A” programme, which puts experts together to discuss hot topics.
Asked in 2014 if it was possible to travel back in time, he said: “In Einstein’s theory, where you have a four-dimensional space, then you are prevented from travelling back in time.
“You can imagine wormholes and this idea that you can tunnel through and take shortcuts, but it would be like going from London to Australia through the Earth.
Brian Cox claimed time travel is possible
Brian Cox is a popular science figure
We’ve done it, it has been proved – moving clocks run slower than stationary ones
“Steven Hawking had a thing called the chronology protection conjecture and the conjecture is it does not make sense to be able to travel back in time and prevent things from happening.
“There’s a conjecture – the laws of nature will always be such that time travel into the past will always be forbidden.”
However, much to the surprise of the rest of the panel, Dr Cox then claimed it was possible to travel forward in time.
He added: “Certainly it’s true in Einstein’s theory of relativity and most people agree that physics protects the past.
“You can, however, travel into the future – even in Einstein’s theory.
“We’ve done it, it has been proved – moving clocks run slower than stationary ones.
“If you were to run across this studio now and run back and sit down and we measured the time it took on your watch very accurately, it would run slower than mine.”
The revelation comes after Dr Cox also answered questions on the pressing topic of extraterrestrial life.
Asked in 2014 if aliens exist, he responded: “I suspect that there might be microbes around all over the place but we have found no life beyond that.
“We are trying very hard to look for life on Mars, there are missions aiming specifically at drilling below the surface.
Time travel has long facinated people
Brian Cox was speaking on a panel
“We know there was water on Mars at some point, so we strongly suspect that there may have been and possibly may still be life.”
He then surprisingly went on to hypothesise that alien life may be very different from human life, due to evolution.
He added: “But there is a different answer about complex life.
“When you ask astronomers they will say ‘surely there are other civilisations out there’ because recent data suggests there are 20 billion Earth-like planets.
“But when you ask a biologist, many of them will say ‘yes, but when you look at the history of life on Earth, it took 3.8 billion years to get a civilisation’.
“It took that long to produce anything on Earth, so it could be that life is rare.”
Dr Cox also added that either way, the idea terrified him.
He detailed: “Either we are alone, or we are not, but both of those ideas terrify me.
“We may be the only civilisation in the Milky Way, that would be important to know for us to know.
“But if we are not, then how will we know? It’s important for us to listen and look for signs of civilisations.”