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J.R. Gott's Strange Idea

J.R. Gott is a PhD professor of physics at the famous Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. He is well known for his theories about how time travel may be possible within the constraints of Einstein's theories of special and general relativity. According to, "Paul Davies's bestseller How to build a time machine credits Gott with the proposal of usingcosmic strings to create a time machine. Gott's machine depends upon the antigravitational tension of the (hypothetical) strings to deform space without attracting nearby objects. The traveler would follow a precise path around rapidly separating strings, and find that she had moved backwards in time." However, Gott's solution requires the strings be infinitely long, though, something that is impossible. also notes that "Gott also proposed a "time mirror": a time travel device based on the principle of time delays. The device would be situated near a black hole some hundred or more light years from Earth. The device would act as a light collector and would power the light rays deformed and curved by the gravitational depression of the black hole. The collector would then reveal the past as detailed by the photons that had originated from Earth".

It is Gott's theory about the origin of the universe, however, that is of interest here. Again, states that "Since Gott believes that time travel is not cosmologically excluded, he has presented the possibility that the universe was created out of itself (at a later time). This controversial suggestion was published with Li-Xin Lin, and it was described by Gott as 'it would be like having one branch of a tree circle around and grow up to be the trunk. In that way, the universe could be its own mother.'"

In his book, Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time, Gott states travel to the past is possible, but not onto the time traveler's own past timeline. Like Marshall, Gott argues the Everett/Wheeler Hypothesis of quantum mechanics would prevent the Grandfather paradox. Gott alternatively believes that it may be as well that all time travel remains self-consistent, allowing one to visit the past but not change it, such as in the Novikov self-consistency principle. Gott likes to stress that time travel itself is a commonplace via time travel into the future at varying rates through special relativity, which Marshall disagrees with. 

Below you can hear Marshall's encounter with J.R. Gott on Coast To Coast AM at 6:44 on the counter: