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Time Travel 2
A time travel spacetime is a solution to Einsteins equations that admits closed timelike curves (CTCs). A time machine spacetime is a time travel spacetime in which the CTCs are generated by the operation of a device (the time machine).

All of the following are time travel spacetimes. Whether or not some of the following are, in addition, time machine spacetimes is still open to debate.

1. MTY Traversible Wormhole

Morris, M. and K. Thorne (1988) Wormholes in spacetime and their use for interstellar travel, Am. J. Phys. 56, 395. Morris, M., K. Thorne, U. Yurtserver (1988) Wormholes, time machines and the weak energy condition, Phys. Rev. D 49, 3990.

Recall the Einstein-Rosen wormhole: It doesnt stay open long enough.




A worldline connecting two points in I and IV during the time the wormhole is open must at some point become spacelike (slope less that 45).

TASK #1: To keep wormhole throat open long enough for use by timelike travelers.

Intuitively, want to strech maximally extended Schwarzschild spacetime so that is now everywhere timelike.


Requires negative energy! In fact, negative energy allows a wormhole solution to the Einstein equations without event horizons!


In what sense is such a traversible wormhole a time machine?


t = 2005 Suppose mouth A is on Earth and mouth B is in a galaxy 2000 light-years away. If you jump through A, you go back in time 1000 years, but it would take you more than 2000 years to get back to the Earth!

time B space
t = 1005

General wormhole: Mouths A and B are separated by a spatial and a temporal distance. If their spatial distance is so great that it would take a (timelike) traveler longer to get from one to the other than their temporal distance, then the wormhole shouldnt count as a time machine.

t = 2005

t = 2005

t = 1005

t = 1005

Temporally-localized wormhole: Mouths are separated in space only. A convenient way to travel, but not a time machine!

Spatially-localized wormhole: Mouths are separated in time only. At last a time machine!

How to construct a time machine from a temporally localized wormhole: 1. Take one mouth on a twin-paradox trip (special relativistic time dilation). OR 2. Place one mouth closer to an intense gravitational source (general relativistic gravitational red-shift).


Radiation feedback: Light entering A exits B in the past; re-enters A again with former self; re-enters A again with former selves... etc. Feedback becomes infinite almost instantaneously and BOOM! Roman Configuration = Two or more traversible wormholes, each one of which doesnt count as a time machine, but entire configuration does.
T. Roman, T. (1993) Phys. Rev. D 47, 1370

One solution:

A t = 2005

B D t = 1005 C

A and B are far enough apart spatially to prevent radiation feedback. Use (temporally-localized) wormhole CD to get back to spatial location of A in the past.

Causal structure of wormhole time machine:

chronologyviolating region

Wormhole time-machine constructed via twin-paradox time dilation.

Cauchy horizon

The chronology-violating region is the interior of the lightcone generated by the null surface .

time space mouth B mouth A

Note: This diagram doesn't show the wormhole "throat" which connects its mouths: it just shows the worldtubes of the mouths.

Problems: 1. Negative-energy exotic matter leads to quantum mechanical instabilities. 2. Availability?

One Attempted Solution: Use ringhole wormholes: mouths are tori, not spheres (Gonzales-Diaz, P. 1996 Phys. Rev. D 54, 6122).

2. Ori-Soen Spacetime

Ori, A. (1993) Must time-machine construction violate the weak energy condition?, Phys. Rev. Lett . 71, 2517. Ori, A. and Y. Soen (1994) Causality violation and the weak energy condition, Phys. Rev. D 49, 3990.

Purely geometrical construction: Spacetime with a region shaped like a torus (doughnut). CTCs develop inside torus to the future of a spacelike hypersurface.
S Closed spacelike curve S inside torus: after a given time t0, this and others near it become timelike.

Size of cross-section (shaded region) described by coordinate. The curve S goes through the point = 0.

H t = t0 N N


Before t0, the closed curve S through = 0 is spacelike. At t0, the closed curve N through = 0 is lightlike. After t0, the closed curve T through = 0 is timelike.

Causal Structure: is a nonflat spacelike partial Cauchy surface. The trough-like surface H is the future Cauchy horizon of . It extends upward from N (at t = t0) and remains inside the interior of the torus. The chronology-violating region is inside the trough.
chronologyviolating region

t H

Characteristics (1) (2) (3) (4) No exotic matter required. Spacetime is flat far from torus and topologically trivial (no fishy identification of points/regions, etc). Partial Cauchy surfaces exist. Future Cauchy horizon is compactly generated.
=0 N

t = t0

Problems (1) (2) Partial Cauchy surfaces are non-trivially curved. What matter distribution corresponds to this geometry and is it physically possible to construct?

A cut-away view of the causal structure. All t = const. surfaces before t = t0 are spacelike and qualify as partial Cauchy surfaces. (After t = t0, all t = const. surfaces no longer are purely spacelike.)

Lense-Thirring Effect Time-Travel Spacetimes (Gdel, Tipler, Gott): These are spacetimes in which rotating matter induces a dragging of inertial frames (LenseThirring Effect) that creates CTCs. Lense-Thirring Effect Occurs when a massive rotating object drags spacetime in its vicinity (but very imperceptivity for normal matter) For gyroscope in orbit around Earth, Lense-Thirring Effect causes axis of spin to go out of alignment by an angle of 42 milliarcseconds per year (width of a human hair from 1 km away!)

Rotating Earth: like a bowling ball in molasses...

Gyroscope in orbit: gets dragged along with the molasses (but very imperceptivity)

3. Gdel spacetime

Gdel, K. (1949) An example of a new type of cosmological solution of Einsteins equations of gravitation, Rev. Mod. Phys. 21, 477.

time space take out slice (not fully spacelike)

sees matter rotating about her

Lightcones tip over and flatten out as we proceed away from A along concentric circles. Initially, such circles are closed spacelike curves S. Eventually lightcones tip to create closed null curves N... and then tip further to create closed timelike curves T. Lens-Thirring Effect: Think of the spacetime as being dragged around with the rotating observer (like molassas) to the extent that CTCs form.


Characteristics (1) (2) T is an accelerated worldline (not a geodesic). Requires rocket with huge amount of fuel! Spacetime is static and rotationally symmetric about each matter worldline (all observers see what A sees; all see matter spinning about them). Problems (1) (2) No partial Cauchy surfaces exist, so no way to describe CTCs as due to a programmable time machine. Not physically relevant (our universe is expanding and non-rotating).

Accelerated trajectory of timelike observer accessing CTC by spiraling outward

4. Tipler Cylinder

Tipler, F. (1974) Rotating cylinders and the possibility of global causality violation, Phys. Rev. D 9, 2203.

Spacetime of an infinitely long rotating cylinder. The Lens-Thirring Effect drags region surrounding cylinder to the extent that CTCs form.

Lightcones straighten up as we proceed away from cylinder along concentric circles. Initially, such circles are closed timelike curves T. Eventually lightcones straighten up to create closed null curves N... and then closed spacelike curves S, S'.

S S'

Characteristics (1) (2) Centrifugal forces are balanced by gravitational attraction. Spacetime is asymptotically well-behaved.

Problems Not physically relevant (an infinite cylinder). Although can make adjustments.
exact solution for finite massless cylinder (Bonner, W. B. 2002, Clas Quant Grav 19, 5951) exact solution for infinite light cylinder (Mallett, R. 2003 Found Phys 33, 1307; although some problems: Olum, K. & A. Everett 2004 arXiv: gr-qc/0410078)

Accelerated trajectory of timelike observer accessing CTC by spiraling inward

There are closed timelike geodesics as well (Steadman, B. R. 2003 Gen Rel and Grav 35, 1721)


5. Gott Cosmic String spacetime

Gott, J. R. (1991) Closed timelike curves produced by pairs of moving cosmic strings: Exact solutions, Physical Review Letters 61, 1446.

Cosmic string = thin strand of extremely dense matter

10 million billion tons per centimeter millions of light-years long non-zero width (very narrow) no endpoints (so either infinitely long or loopy)
ASIDE: Cosmic strings are 1dimensional topological defects from phase transitions in the early universe, according to some cosmological models. Such defects occur at the borders of regions that undergo differing phase transitions (0-dim defects are magnetic monopoles and 2-dim and higher defects are domain walls). Cosmic strings are not to be confused with superstrings from string theory. The latter are 0-width loops that are supposed to be the fundamental constituents of matter.

Spacetime in region of a cosmic string: conical

string (cross-section)


Minkowski spacetime with a wedge cut out


circumference of circle C < 2radius

For string density = 10 million billion tons/cm, slice subtends angle of 3.8 sec of arc (very small but noticable).

Time travel using cosmic strings: Goal: To construct a spacetime with CTCs. Initial Set-up: Spacetime with 2 parallel cosmic strings

region I
1 path

path 3

string 1
string 2

path 1

path 2
3 path

A region II

ASIDE: No attraction between strings due to negative energy string tension.



Paths 1, 2, 3 are all geodesics. Paths 1 and 3 are shorter than path 2. So: A rocket traveling at a sufficient constant speed (very close to c) on path 1 can beat a light signal traveling on path 2. Thus: From the point of view of an inertial observer moving along path 2, the rocket is traveling faster than light!
From the rocket's point of view, it never exceeds c.

So: There is a particular inertial observer C moving at constant velocity v along path 2 for whom the departure of the rocket from A occurs after its arrival at B! And: The same holds for the rocket's return from B back to A along path 3.
Recall the discussion on tachyons.

Now: Transform to observer C's rest-frame 1. For trip from A to B: Take region I and set it in motion to right at constant speed v. 2. For trip from B to A: Take region II and set it in motion to left at constant speed v.

ASIDE: Each region is a separate complete solution to the Einstein equations, and they can be patched together smoothly to form a single solution. Moreover, they can be patched together smoothly to form a solution in which there is a non-zero constant relative velocity v between them.

Equivalent to: A spacetime that satisfies the Einstein equations in which there are two cosmic strings moving past each other at constant relative velocity v. CTCs (path 1 + path 3) form in their near vicinity! 9

What this construction describes: Two cosmic strings parallel to each other moving in opposite directions as they pass by. Spacetime surrounding them admits CTCs!
string 2 v/2 string 1

v/2 A

Relative angular momentum between strings creates Lens-Thirring effect drags timelike curve consiting of paths 1 and 3 into a closed loop.


Causal structure of Gott Cosmic String spacetime:

Cutler (1992) Phys. Rev. D 45, 487

Cauchy horizon

no timetravel

Chronology-violating region is the exterior region of the hour-glass Cauchy horizon.

rocket worldline (CTC)


chronologyviolating region no timetravel

chronologyviolating region

Rocket worldline describes rocket at rest at A for some period of time. Then follows CTC to B and back to A, arriving in past, then continues at rest at A. Only a point on both strings is represented: the world-"sheets" of the strings stretch to spatial infinity.


B worldline of a point on string 1

A worldline of a point on string 2

Advantages: (i) No need for exotic matter. (ii) Chronology-violating region exists for finite period of time -- possible reason why we havent been invaded by hordes of tourists from the future (Hawking 92). Problem: Does it count as a time machine? The Cauchy horizon is not compactly generated (its generators come in from past infinity). So there isnt a sense in which you can throw a switch (on some Cauchy surface ) and turn on a time-machine. 10