A new time travel theory claims that going back in time wouldn’t be as dangerous or as effective as movies and shows would have one believe.

There are countless movies about time travel and what problems can happen through accidentally altering the timeline. However, a new study claims that time travel is, in actuality, far less risky than one would expect.

A new research paper posted to IOP Publishing from the University of Queensland has shed light on the age-old theory stating that going back in time and causing changes could create ripples in the fabric of time itself. According to the paper, any attempts to meddle and change the events in time would be null and void, as the timeline would find a way to correct itself.  The researchers, Fabio Costa and Germain Tobar, used the example of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to explain how our timeline would essentially remain the same.

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“Say you traveled in time in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus. However, if you stopped that individual from becoming infected, that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place,” Costa explained to UQ News. This is a paradox — an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe.”

“You might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so, you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” Tobar added. “No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you.”

This is an illuminating discovery and one that has long been prevalent in films and series, where events often have a defined way of playing out, even if by other means. Time travel shows like DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have used this logic when explaining plot points like how the Air Totem ends up with Zari in Season 5 and ends up making her a hero, even when the life she grows up in has been radically altered due to a shift in the timeline. In the old timeline, the hero goes from a bleak present where her brother was deceased to change the course of time, thereby changing her own origin story. Even with her life changed, she still finds herself on board with the Legends come Season 5. Of course, Legends of Tomorrow has never been one to abide by the rules of time travel in general, but in this one instance, the show certainly seems to have its finger on the pulse.

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There is still quite a lot left to uncover about the nature of time itself. However, this new research is a significant addition to the possibilities and complexities of time travel.

Source: IOP Publishing, UQ News, via NPR

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