My monthly astrophysical column written for the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa.
Would you buy a second-hand car from this man?
The patent for a time machine has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by one Dr. Marvin B. Pohlman of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here is the abstract of his submission:
“The method employs sinusoidal oscillations of electrical bombardment on the surface of one Kerr type singularity in close proximity to a second Kerr type singularity in such a method to take advantage of the Lense-Thirring effect, to simulate the effect of two point masses on nearly radial orbits in a 2+1 dimensional anti-de Sitter space resulting in creation of circular timelike geodesics conforming to the van Stockum under the Van Den Broeck modification of the Alcubierre geometry (Van Den Broeck 1999) permitting topology change from one spacelike boundary to the other in accordance with Geroch’s theorem (Geroch 1967) resulting in a method for the formation of Godel-type geodesically complete spacetime envelopes complete with closed timelike curves.”
Dr Pohlman asserts that by creating an artificial spacetime wormhole in his laboratory, he has a working time machine. Yeah, right…
Well, that looks fairly straightforward, doesn’t it? Eish! On what basis did the patents clerks decide that this was a real thing? A cursory glance at the abstract reveals just what pie-in-the-sky bulldust it really is. Singularites are physical impossibilities, and certainly have never been created or seen. Pohlman suggests that he can create two of these things in his lab, and then keep them nice and still while he beams an electron stream at them. Ably assisted by a green elephant, no doubt. And it gets worse! The manic gobbledegook spirals down into the most unbelievable claptrap about point-masses changing topology in spacetime envelopes. This is pure LSD stuff.
The website Before it’s news.com carried the story, and added this fascinating piece of garnishing:
“Some armchair Internet scientists have made a connection between Pohlman and an infamous personage named John Titor. Who is John Titor?
John Titor is the pseudonym of a person who claimed to be a time traveler from the year 2036. He appeared in Internet chatrooms and on message boards for a few months back in the winter of 2000 to 2001.” [John Titor – Time Traveler]
Titor amazed and entertained hundreds of physicists and IT experts. He asserted he came from the future to accomplish a mission in the past. On his way back he stopped off in 2000 for several months to visit with his young parents and younger self in Florida. His younger version was only a toddler in 2000.”
Of course, having come from the future, Titor could titillate us with definite stories about what was going to happen in the years immediately post-2000. These were not prophecies, they were accounts of what he had allegedly experienced. These include: That there will be no more Olympic games after 2004, that civil war would be breaking out in America after the 2004 election, and that CERN would create miniature black holes in 2001.
The time machine used by Titor, supposedly made by GE in 2036. Sure looks hi-tech, doesn’t it? Duh!
Nice, Titor! Nought out of three is about what I’d expect you to get. But the pertinent point is that this abject failure to verify his story did nothing to dent the dedication of his followers. We just didn’t understand him properly, they assure us.
Getting the picture? The significant point here is that Pohlman’s patent application was accepted. This, it would appear, is the principle upon which Nobel Prizes are now awarded.
And what a damned shame that is!