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Nobel laureate Friedman: Time travel is not possible
Nobel Laureate Jerome Isaac Friedman while interacting with journalists and students at the Science Conclave at IIIT-Allahabad, said that time travel is not possible, at least not in the near future. He also denied that there was an after life.
NOBEL LAUREATE Jerome Isaac Friedman (1990), while interacting with journalists and students at the Science Conclave at IIIT-Allahabad, said that time travel is not possible, at least not in the near future.
 
Responding to a question by this scribe, he said that going back in time is also not possible. "Simply because if one could go back in time, he could possibly change the future and that defeats the entire purpose of nature, the laws of cause and effect."
 
He however added that technically speaking when we look at a distant star we are going back in time, because what we see are the light waves that emanated or were reflected from that star many, many years ago. Responding to further questions, Friedman explained that the amount of energy required making time travel possible even theoretically is so enormous that it is beyond the scope of current technology and scientific apparatus.
 
When queried about certain sci-fi articles and reports that claim that time travel may be possible in the near future, he quipped, “Ask them how?” Friedman was his natural jolly self inspite of jet lag and inspite of speaking continuously for about three days. Very popular among the students who have come from all over India, Friedman patiently listened to their questions regarding physics, the nature of protons, mathematical equations and theories regarding the structure of an atom, etc.
 
He has been interacting with hundreds of students for the last three days and was looking visibly tired. But like a true teacher, he continued his discourses with students and faculty of the IIIT-Allahabad unmindful of the cough that was slowly taking control of his pharynx.
 
An atheist himself, Friedman refused to answer theological questions or queries about religion and the existence of god. He however admitted that today’s scientific theories are unable to answer many questions about the universe and its existence and so “it was fine if people in different parts of the world came up with ‘stories or explanations’ for such phenomena.”
 
However, according to Friedman the problem arises when such ‘stories’ – referring to certain explanations in religious texts regarding the Universe or about life and death – attack the fundamental truths of modern science.
 
He also denied that there was an after life. “Has anyone seen any after life?” He asked adding that as a scientist he only believed in what could be proved by equations or experiments. According to Friedman, there are many loopholes in the Big Bang theory, but the process of evolution cannot be disputed. “From general observations, it is obvious that we are going through a phase of evolution, but the Big Bang theory still doesn’t explain all the questions regarding the origin of the Universe or the origin of Mankind,” he said.
 
Jerome Isaac Friedman, born on 28 March, 1930, is an American physicist. He became interested in physics after reading a book on relativity written by Albert Einstein, So inspired was he that he turned down a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago to study physics at the University of Chicago. He has worked under Enrico Fermi, eventually receiving his Ph.D. in physics in 1956.
 
In 1960 he joined the physics faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Friedman shared the Nobel Prize in 1990 for his discovery of the internal structure of protons and the discovery of sub-atomic particles called quarks. He is an honorary professor at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Physics and faculty's world famous institutes: Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Institute of Physics Zemun and Institute for Nuclear Sciences Vinca.
 
For the first time in Asia, the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A) is hosting the biggest Asian gathering of international Nobel Laureates at the Nobel laureates Conclave, IIIT, Allahabad from December 15 to 21, 2008. The Nobel laureates Conclave is part of the Science Conclave 2008 - a week-long mega symposium, exhibition and lecture series on science and technology. More than 2000 delegates including students, scientists from India and all over the world are attending this event.
 
(Flynn Remedios is the Media Coordinator for the Science Conclave IIIT-Allahabad and a Mumbai-based freelance journalist. He writes on science and technology, futuristics, media and entertainment)
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