The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

From Spielberg to Tachyons: A Student's Exploration of Time Travel

Julia Sauerhaft said she has always been interested in “astronomy, space, little people, and the world at large.” But prior to senior project research on concepts of time and free will, her middle-school interest in space was supplemented solely by Steven Spielberg’s “Back to the Future,” a 1985 film about time travel.

From space lover to Spielberg fan, Julia is now pursuing her interest in physics and time travel by writing a focused thesis paper.

“My essay is a proof for determinism: the idea that we don’t have free will and that we as humans don’t have control of our future,” Julia said.

Basing her argument off of Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, Julia has compiled and analyzed research from multiple philosophers and physicists such as Steven Hawking to develop a solid argument of her own about free will in the future.

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Her paper is divided into two sections: one portion which “argues based on time travel to the future,” and a second part that “argues about time travel in the past,” Julia said. “Both prove that we do not have free will.”

To better understand the concept of the past, Julia studied Hawkins’ theory on wormhole time travel to the past with the “grandfather paradox,” the idea of traveling back in time to kill one’s grandfather, therefore preventing one’s own existence from being possible.

In the second half of the paper, Julia’s research has led her to believe that, “because time travel to the future is possible, the future must already exist. So therefore your future is already determined and you don’t have free will.”

But though Julia said she understands the concepts well, she’s not confident that it would be beneficial for the larger population to accept her argument as truth.

“I do think that society would have a lot of trouble functioning if everyone believed that they didn’t have free will and that their future was already determined,” Julia said. “I think we’d lose ethics and the motivation to do well. And the irony of that is it’s all cause and effect, because if you choose to believe this and you choose to act in that manner, it’s already going affect you in that manner.”

Despite having thoroughly researched the topic and debated with a few peers about their perspectives, Julia doesn’t think she’s quite ready to take on a whole new invention just yet.

“I was never going to build a time machine,” Julia said. “I really wish I could, but to be honest, all you need is a tachyon, which is a particle we haven’t found yet. To find the tachyon was kind of out of the scope of the senior project.”

Julia said she believes tachyons, particles that travel infinitely fast, are a “crazy concept.” So crazy, in fact, that not everyone understands them.

“I’ve been finding that sometimes things that seem obvious to me as I’m peer editing my paper aren’t obvious to other people, so trying to explain my beliefs is the challenging part of the project,” Julia said before referring back to tachyons. “That’s like one of the things that I love about my project, just like these crazy ideas that it’s crazy to wrap your mind around.”

To find more senior projects, check out Issue 7 of The Talon tomorrow, April 29.

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  • swoyam | Jan 15, 2018 at 8:50 am


    you just introduced a crazy concept of time travel . I too think that it possible . but I think what you said about the future that it is predetermined is not correct as per I guess,I’m a student and also interested in these topics so I had some sort of research on it also in past few months.If i can move back and forth in time I would be having power to change the history and to create an alternate timeline and thus changing everything and even my future
    for ex- I could go back to Hitler’s time and would provide them with the nuclear secrets before any other country crack it then till today there will be the Nazis’ ruling future and past everything can be changed .
    time travel is practically impossible as as no one can create time machine or run like flash or it can also be said that if we mess up with time we may create a singularity or black hole….
    At last i just wanna say that you just did a marvellous research on something which is normally impossible for a common man to think .so keep it up.