The theory of relativity is perhaps the most famous and misunderstood of all modern scientific theories. It proposes that time is relative to the observer, talking about concepts such as the space-time continuum. Einstein postulated that upon exceeding the speed of light, time travel might theoretically be possible. The famous example is, of course, the concept of the two twins: one on earth and the other in space travelling at the speed of light, with time itself ‘curving’ and moving differently for the two. When the twin returns to earth, he may have aged just a couple of years, while the other would be an old man. Further examples are given of how in everyday life time passes differently for different people. There is a severe flaw here: Einstein mistook the perception of time with time itself. Einstein never took the time (pun intended) actually to define time. That should have been the most important thing of all — the fundamental starting point. Without such a foundation, one is bound to go into fantasy land and build jumbled up mathematical models. Time can never be altered because it has not been proven that time exists in the first place. Time is just a word that helps us make better sense of the world. It was invented to help in agriculture, for better crop growth and management of society and daily life in general. Not so long ago, the 24-hour clock did not exist. Humans relied on shadows. Before that, there was simply ‘Sun up’ and ‘Sundown’. In Egypt, time was measured according to the flooding of the Nile. There were no hours, days, weeks or months. There was just this moment and that. What scientists have focused on is the measurement of time, which the layman mistook for time itself. Time can never be altered because it has not been proven that time exists in the first place. Time is just a word that helps us make better sense of the world. It was invented to help in agriculture, for better crop growth and management of society and daily life in general Yes, going at the speed of light will allow you to appear to be at two places at once. But it would only be an illusion relative to the observer. You won’t actually be at multiple locations. You will only appear to be. Time would not be affected. You would basically be going faster than the other. The other will appear almost motionless to you, but that would be because perceptions are not yet so fully developed as to capture movement at such speeds fully. Time would remain the same, only the speeds relative to different observers would change. Galileo too was transfixed by the paradox of time. In his Two New Sciences (1638), Galileo used a water clock to measure the time taken for a bronze ball to roll a known distance down an inclined plane. Newton too postulated the absoluteness of time, while Maxwell introduced the concept of the luminous ether, through which he justified light being able to pass through empty vacuums. It was Stephen Hawking, however, who truly touched upon a proper definition of time. According to him, there was: a) a psychological time — our perception of an inexorable flow, b) thermodynamic time — distinguished by the growth of entropy, and c) cosmological arrow time — distinguished by the expansion of the universe. According to me, psychological and cosmological times can be merged if one takes into account the concept of age. The older the entity, the faster the perception of time. Time will pass slowly for a 5-year-old. A day may seem like years. For a 50-year-old, however, a day may seem like hours, while for a hundred-year-old, a year will seem like only a minute. If we view the universe itself as a multi-billion year old entity, we can postulate that the more it expands and grows, the faster it’s perception of time. Mutations which previously took millions of year can now take just hundreds. Indeed, the speed of discoveries of humankind of yore pales in comparison with the progress of the 21st-century humans. From finding the ‘god particle’ and building particle accelerators to commercial space flights to Mars, as a race, time is surely moving fast for us. Whether time travel is possible or not, will depend on how fast we’ll get to Mars. The Earth doesn’t seem to have that much time. The writer is a director/actor and a core member of Ajoka Theatre Pakistan. He has been involved in spreading awareness on socio-political issues through theatre Published in Daily Times, June 21st 2018.