This article was originally posted on April Fools Day.
An independent team of British scientists have had their research into time travel and their prototype time travel devices taken away from them, after being lied to about a research grant.
I've been following the progress of Lewis Howe and his Quantum Needle Project for some time, as they seemed to be getting pretty close to building a working time travel device, the Quantum Needle.
Lewis and his team were making great progress and were actually starting to get some attention from within the scientific community, which is unheard of in the field of time travel, which is often considered to to be pseudoscience nonsense.
Last autumn, Lewis was excited to have been offered a research grant by the University of Manchester. They promised to fully fund the project's research, as well as offering the team space to work and better equipment. So, in December they started moving their prototypes, research and equipment into a new dedicated work space near the university.
This is when things started going wrong. Once in the building the team couldn't resume their work, they were given excuses about regulations which meant the building couldn't be used for non-residential purposes, then there were issues with getting three-phase power installed which prevented the team from operating their prototype.
Then the final bombshell, early in 2018 the team lost access to the building, their grant money never showed up, and their contact at the university vanished. They were passed from person to person and eventually it became clear that they had lost their research and all of their work up to this point.
Lewis kept me up to date throughout this whole saga, but he now seems to have vanished too. I haven't heard from him since January 18th, and even the project's website has since been removed.
It's all really suspicious and you've probably already come to the same conclusion as most conspiracy theorist online have, that the project was deliberately sabotaged and claimed by a government department, probably due to the promise the project showed. Whether the project will continue in secret, or if this marks an end to the Quantum Needle Project is anyone's guess.
Why Was The Quantum Needle So Promising?
Before I stumbled across the British team's research, all I'd ever seen in the field of time travel research was people who were obsessed with the notion of time machines ripping a hole in the fabric of space-time and transporting a person or vehicle through a portal into the past. Lewis and his team realised early on that this theoretical method of time travel had too many associated problems.
Of course the main problem with this proposed method of time travel is that the Earth spins at a rate of 1,000 miles per hour, the Earth travels around the Sun at 30 kilometres per second, and the sun is spinning in a galaxy which is revolving at around 483,000 miles per hour.
So, if you were able to open a portal to just an hour into the past and step through it to your exact same location in space, you'd find yourself in deep space, about 1.3 million miles away from home.
Lewis' approach to time travel wasn't to create a portal or rip any holes in the fabric of space-time. His technology "clones" a moment in space-time at the focal point of the device, "the needle." You don't need to travel to the past, the Quantum Needle brings the past to you.
Another common problem with the concept of time travel is paradoxes. However, the universe is designed in such a way that paradoxes cannot happen, it violate the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.
The needle's theoretical operation got around this by creating a cloned timeline. If you went back in time and killed your grandfather in one of these cloned realities, it's true that neither your parents or yourself would be born... but only in the new timeline you've created, so you could still live on due to your origins in your original timeline.
How Close To Working Was The Quantum Needle?
According to Lewis, time travel was closer than you might think. The team had already successfully transported photons of light using the Quantum Needle. Their experiments showed that while photons can freely pass through the test chamber, when the device is activated the photons no longer reach the detector at the far end.
Before vanishing, he'd written on the project's website, "our next step is to send more complex particles and try improve our equipment which should allows us to detect the electromagnetic anomalies caused on a quantum level by the disappearance of the particle, known as 'quantum collapse'."
A way to picture this phenomenon is to imagine you had a solid box, one meter square hovering in front of you. If that box suddenly vanished, there would be a crack as the air around it rushed to fill the void.
The same principle applies to particles which exist within the electromagnetic spectrum. When they vanish, energy is redistributed to cope with the loss of a photon. When using larger particles or even solid objects, the team hope to be able to measure this quantum collapse in greater detail.
Part of this redistribution of energy also includes a slipstream of the EM field from the new timeline, Lewis claimed they'd been able to measure this but not in enough detail to determine that the test object had transcended to the correct timeframe. He wrote, "working with photons, all we've been able to determine so far is that non-linear EM fields have been detected but only as very short-lived spikes."
The project's aim, once the technology had been perfected, was to create a smaller, portable version, which they planned to send back to a point in the near past and programme it to send a test object back to its origin coordinates.
The ultimate goal was to create a reusable "vehicle” which can generate its own quantum envelope and suck itself to different space-time reference point. Upon its safe return, the final stage of the technology's development would be human trials.
How Does The Quantum Needle Work?
Of course as the technology was in development, Lewis and his team weren't always very forthcoming with the exact details of how it worked, due to the risk of being copied. But the website did give some details of the basis of their research, which revolved around their "needle," which is able acts as dwell point that attracts energy within a temporal dimension in order to trigger the existence a new timeframe.
Unlike other theoretical time travel models, their's didn't have massive energy requirements or require 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to spring to life. In fact, they claimed that their data suggested that these time slips are so easy to create, that they occur naturally, but because they happen randomly it's almost impossible to gather any data on them. They also happen with such rarity that accounts of perceived time dilation by humans is almost unheard of and purely anecdotal.
The prototype version of the Quantum Needle focuses its energy into a transcendence chamber where the test subject is placed. They then used an "EM footprint," which they'd previously measured at the location of the needle and used this as their destination reference point.
Their theory was that after analysing data from a more sustained quantum collapse, they'd be able to algorithmically generate destination references for any physical location in the past, present or future.
Unfortunately it seems we'll now never know what the Quantum Needle was capable of.