Physicists Have New Proof That Backward Time Travel Is Impossible

Physicists Have New Proof That Backward Time Travel Is Impossible

Damn it, physicists, and your insistence on killing time travel theories.

Researchers confirmed the existence of a "pear-shaped" atomic nucleus — compared to most nuclei, which are disk-like, spherical or football-shaped — that might help us better understand the universe. Unfortunately, that understanding could be a real bummer for Back to the Future truthers.

All matter in the universe is comprised of atoms, each containing a nucleus. Until recently, scientists believed all those nuclei were symmetrical. That means the nuclei didn't "point" to a specific direction in space, or a related direction in time, so we couldn't prove backward time travel was out of the question. 

But now, we can: 

"We've found these nuclei literally point toward a direction in space," Marcus Scheck from the University of the West of Scotland, one of the study's researchers, told BBC News. "This relates to a direction in time, proving there's a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present."

Well, shit, Scheck.

The discovery came in 2013, when an international group of physicists, including Scheck, published a study in the journal Nature describing the pear-shaped nucleus of an atom called radium-224. The latest research, published in Physical Review Letters, confirms those original findings with a new atom, barium-144.

This isn't the first time the laws of physics have thrown a wrench into science fiction's real-life potential.

Take, for instance, the time-travel paradox that was recently introduced in season six of Game of Thrones. While the element of time travel ties storylines together, its physics don't exactly hold up: Wormholes are the closest working theory of actual time-travel that could explain Bran's ability to visit the past, but they're too volatile to be viable time-travel devices. 

Even if wormholes were stable enough, you could only travel back to when the wormhole was created — not use it like an infinitely versatile, Doctor Who-ian shuttle bus. And that's assuming atomic nuclei don't point in the direction of time — and according to the new findings, some of them do.

And because Scheck apparently gets off on all of this, he and his team plan to run the experiment again — this time using the high-tech Isotope Separator On Line Detector lab at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Because when physicists kill your dreams, they like to do it right.

Read more:
• Bran, Hodor and 'Game of Thrones': Is It Possible to Time-Travel and Change History?
• Could Time Travel Be Possible? Here Is What Some Scientists Say About the Theory
The Mind-Bending 'Time Splice' Concept Will Make You Rethink Perception