Or is it byproduct of general relativity.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think History of Science and Mathematics would be a better place for this question $\endgroup$
    – Courage
    Feb 2 '16 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ H G Wells published The Time Machine in 1895, does that count as a scientific concept? $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Feb 2 '16 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ There was [time travel in fiction,]though, early on, beginning in 1733: "1733 A guardian angel travels to 1728 with letters from 1997 and '98" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_time_travel_works_of_fiction $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Feb 2 '16 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the time travel wasn't introduced as a "scientific concept" by Einstein or general relativity. However the sort of people who promote time travel will try to tell you it's all to do with closed timelike curves and general relativity in order to try to legitimise it. IMHO it's worth checking out A World without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein. What this is about is time does not exist like space exists. It isn't something through which you can travel. $\endgroup$ Feb 2 '16 at 13:24

As far as I know, no notion of time travel before Herman Weyl's 1922 book "Space, time, matter", where he vaguely discusses the notion that the metric of spacetime could become so twisted as to allow time travel. I recall a 1917 special relativity book discussing the classical problem of a particle going faster than light going backward in time, but only to underline the notion being nonsensical (the first articles on tachyons arrived in the early 70's or so). The only other notion that could relate to time travel before those is advanced potentials (solutions of the wave equation which might be interpreted as going backward in time after being emitted), this too was not discussed that much, except around in the 40's for the Feynman Wheeler absorber theory.

If you want some old timey discussion on advanced potentials, check out W. Ritz's 1908 article, "Recherche sur l'électrodynamique générale", where he discusses time symmetry in the Maxwell equations. I think Hugo Tetrode's 1922 "Über den Wirkungszusammenhang der Welt. Eine Erweiterung der Klassischen Dynamik" is supposed to be also similar but I cannot read German unfortunately.


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