Physicist Proposes a Solution to the Grandfather Paradox of Time Travel

In speculation about time travel, the grandfather paradox is the notion that you could go back in time and kill your own grandfather. This would result in you not being born. But if you weren't born, how could you kill your grandfather? Physicist Seth Lloyd of MIT performed experiments with protons attempting to somewhat simulate these conditions and found that the paradoxical problems failed to occur:

By going back and outlawing any events that would later prove paradoxical in the future, this theory gets rid of the uncomfortable idea that a time traveler could prevent his own existence. “In our version of time travel, paradoxical situations are censored,” Lloyd says.

But this dictum against paradoxical events causes possible but unlikely events to happen more frequently. “If you make a slight change in the initial conditions, the paradoxical situation won’t happen. That looks like a good thing, but what it means is that if you’re very near the paradoxical condition, then slight differences will be extremely amplified,” says Charles Bennett of IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

For instance, a bullet-maker would be inordinately more likely to produce a defective bullet if that very bullet was going to be used later to kill a time traveler’s grandfather, or the gun would misfire, or “some little quantum fluctuation has to whisk the bullet away at the last moment,” Lloyd says. In this version of time travel, the grandfather, he says, is “a tough guy to kill.”

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