Is Time Really on Our Side?

Published 10.26.2016



Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.

Stephen Hawking

If I just had more time. How often has this thought crossed your mind?

If you frequently wish for more hours in the day and more days in a lifetime, you won’t want to miss the next presentation in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Technology and Society Colloquia Series.

Physics professor David S. Richards will speak on “Manipulating Time Using Science, Technology, and Literature” on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. in the College’s Klump Academic Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Free refreshments are served after the presentation.

Dr. Richards will continue a conversation about time that began in fall 2014, when renowned physicist, author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Alan Lightman visited the campus. His talk, “Our Home in the Material Universe,” examined the potential and the limitations of scientific and technological discoveries.

Lightman encouraged a packed Penn College audience to spend more time goofing off, to “take the time to think about where we’re going.” He said humans have the power to balance the dizzying course of progress with our own internal peace.

After his Penn College visit, Professor Lightman continued his relationship with the institution, appearing with President Davie Jane Gilmour in a 2015 event in Boston where they discussed hot-button topics related to higher education and job prospects for graduates.

In anticipation of the MIT professor’s visit two years ago, Dr. Richards led a community discussion of Lightman’s international bestselling novel, “Einstein’s Dreams.” One of the most widely read books on university campuses, the novel imagines how time, influenced by various theories Einstein considered, might impact ordinary lives.

In his Nov. 1 presentation, Dr. Richards will consider how science, technology and literature might be used to manipulate time, allowing humans to travel into the future and live longer lives. These fascinating prospects could move from the realms of science fiction to reality – given that science has proven time is not absolute, but rather is determined by relative speeds, gravity and space.

“Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone,” Lightman wrote in Einstein’s Dreams.

Don’t you get stuck alone outside the conversation about time that is taking place on our campus! Take your seat in the Klump Academic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. and hear what Professor Richards has to say about technology and time travel. It may not be as fictional as you think.

If you were not in the near-capacity audience for the last, thought-provoking colloquia series presentation, it is now available for YouTube viewing. In “Can We Nourish 9.7 Billion People in 2050?” former Bucknell University president Gary A. Sojka explained that our main concerns in feeding the world’s people may arise from a lack of cooperation among people and governments, rather than technological or biological limitations.