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Huggins Displacement Theory and Retrocausality

  1. Mar 6, 2014 #1
    I was looking at the Wikipedia entries on Time Travel and the Grandfather paradox and noticed a paragraph on the so-called Huggins Displacement Theory. I haven't been able to find the source although I assume it's originator was the Victorian astronomer Sir William Huggins. Does anyone know of the precise reference?

    Normally sending information into one's past can lead to contradictions. For example based on some condition now I could send a message into my past that prevents that very condition from occurring in my present. Thus sending information into the past, and therefore arbitrarily changing it, seems to be forbidden physically.

    However the Huggins Displacement Theory says that there is a loop-hole in this argument (or more accurately a "corner case"!) I could send information along my past lightcone so that if I influence something a year in my past then it must be a light-year away from me. Thus no change in the past has a enough time to travel back to me to cause a contradiction in my present.

    For example imagine that I see a stock price going up today. The Huggins Theory says that I can beam knowledge of this stock price rise back in time provided that the message is also displaced by a comparable distance. Thus if I send it back a year in time then it must also travel away from me by a light-year in distance. If my twin gets the message then he might try to profit from the information by sending back a message to me to buy the stock. Unfortunately the message will only get back to me at the instant that the price rises so that neither myself nor my twin will be able to profit from this situation.

    Maybe physics does allow information to be sent back in time along a past lightcone so that this effect could be measured. My hunch is that perhaps if one charged up an electrode then electrostatic influences from it might travel back along its lightcone to cause measureable repulsion or attraction on distant electrodes.

    I don't think electromagnetic radiation itself could go backwards in time as in principle it could be reflected back onto an observer's past worldline and therefore trigger contradictions in his/her present.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2014 #2
    Actually I raised this issue on Physics Stack Exchange and got a reply saying:

    This doesn't seem to work, for the following reason: the theory says I can send a message back in time one year to you, one light-year away. But you can then relay the message back to me one year ago (and one light-year away) as well. That means I receive the message two years before I sent it, leading to grandfather-type paradoxes.

    So the Huggins Theory could still lead to time paradoxes.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
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