Jillian Scharr, Staff Writer   |   August 25, 2013 05:28pm ET

an illustration of a wormhole through space-time
Though wormholes have never been proven to exist, these theoretical passageways through space-time are predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Credit: lgartist 79 | Shutterstock

The concept of a time machine typically conjures up images of an implausible plot device used in a few too many science-fiction storylines. But according to Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which explains how gravity operates in the universe, real-life time travel isn’t just a vague fantasy.

Traveling forward in time is an uncontroversial possibility, according to Einstein’s theory. In fact, physicists have been able to send tiny particles called muons, which are similar to electrons, forward in time by manipulating the gravity around them. That’s not to say the technology for sending humans 100 years into the future will be available anytime soon, though.

Time travel to the past, however, is even less understood. Still, astrophysicist Eric W. Davis, of the EarthTech International Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, argues that it’s possible. All you need, he says, is a wormhole, which is a theoretical passageway through space-time that is predicted by relativity. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]

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