The sci-fi fantasy of time travel is fast becoming a reality. As such, it’s a great way to pull eager-minded youngsters into the sciences. The promise of potentially being the wo/man to travel through time has never been so close to reality.
Growing up is about finding yourself and discovering who you are by seeing how you react to the trials and tribulations of life. But that’s all so taxing. Imagine if you could find yourself literally in the swirling milieu of time and space by traveling forward and seeing what kind of person you will eventually become.
Time travel has been on the human mind for longer than anyone can remember. The notion of a time machine goes back to Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau’s 1887 novel El Anacronopete. Since then, we’ve seen all sorts of fanciful permutations of the device that would move us around the space-time continuum. The difference in 2012, however, is that the barrier to the reality of time travel is thinner than it’s ever been. A kid watching “Back to the Future” today could conceivably go into advanced theoretical physics and generate a time-dilating device in the next lifetime. The foggy specter of time travel has finally come into view. You or your student or your student’s students may be the person who cracks the time code.
Most of the theoretical hypothetical philosophic gruntwork for the creation of a time machine has been done. Pretty much all you need is an advanced degree and some serious electrical supplies before a time-dilating vehicle will eventually and inevitably spring into being.
For the benefit of parents and teachers who see a budding Doc Emmett Brown or Julian West, here are some practical specifics to building a time machine that can, if for no other reason, provide a possible path of interest in higher education.
Possibilities of propulsion
Now that your students have built their time machines, they need to learn how to use them. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the sciences that study space-time propulsion. Some propulsion options include warp engines and the gravitational pull of a star, specifically a sun. Warp speeds of 9.5 and above allow for time dilation, where time itself slows as the speed of light is approached.
Below are apps that will help students in their exploration and educate them in science and engineering overall:
- Solar System: Mapping your path in the stars is crucial for time travel in space. While using this app, your student will enjoy learning about the solar system and mapping his own, make-believe course.
- NASA Visualization Explorer: This is another application which helps the student map terrains and gravitation pulls.
- WAGmob: This step-by-step tool shows students exercises that let them practice physics firsthand; this is a staple for future Doc Emmett Browns.
- MathBoard: With this simple, straightforward app, the user practices math by solving simple addition and subtraction problems as well as tougher multiplication and division.
- Lumosity: This is CrossFit for the brain. The site allows students (and adults) of all ages to engage in exercises that challenge and improve higher brain function. Because a time-traveler needs to be able to solve problems quickly, such exercises are invaluable.
Combine both the components of a time machine and the systems for propulsion and the finished product will emerge: a really good science project and possible prediction for the student’s future.