Synthese 169 (1):91 - 124 (2009)

Authors
John Earman
University of Pittsburgh
Chris Smeenk
University of Western Ontario
Christian Wüthrich
University of Geneva
Abstract
We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time machine. We explain the conundrum that must be faced in providing a satisfactory definition and propose a resolution. Roughly, we require that all extensions of the time machine region contain closed timelike curves; the actions of the time machine operator are then sufficiently "potent" to guarantee that closed timelike curves appear. We then review no-go theorems based on classical general relativity, semi-classical quantum gravity, quantum field theory on curved spacetime, and Euclidean quantum gravity. Our verdict on the question of our title is that no result of sufficient generality to underwrite a confident "yes" has been proven. Our review of the no-go results does, however, highlight several foundational problems at the intersection of general relativity and quantum physics that lend substance to the search for an answer
Keywords General relativity  Time travel  Time machines  QFT on curved spacetime  Causality  Closed timelike curves
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DOI 10.2307/40271293
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1974 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 42 (3):341-344.

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Citations of this work BETA

Epistemic Holes and Determinism in Classical General Relativity.Juliusz Doboszewski - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):1093-1111.
Relativistic Spacetimes and Definitions of Determinism.Juliusz Doboszewski - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):24.
No No-Go: A Remark on Time Machines.John Byron Manchak - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (1):74-76.
Time Machines.John Byron Manchak - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (2):124-127.

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