Time travel is a staple of science fiction stories, but is it actually possible? It turns out nature does allow a way of bending time, an exciting possibility suggested by Albert Einstein when he discovered special relativity over one hundred years ago. Colin Stuart imagines where (or, when) this fascinating phenomenon, time dilation, may one day take us.







  • dilation – the action or condition of becoming or being made wider, larger, or more open
  • commonplace – not unusual; ordinary
  • beam – a ray or shaft of light
  • carriage – any of the separate sections of a train that carry passengers
  • to elapse – (of time) pass or go by
  • miniscule – extremely small; tiny
  • to hurtle move or cause to move at high speed, typically in an uncontrolled manner
  • enormous very large in size, quantity, or extent



Ask and answer the questions below in pairs or with your teacher.

  • Do you think time travel is possible? Why or why not?
  • If you could go back in time and change the course of history, where (and when) would you go and what would you do?
  • If you could go into the future, would you? If so, when and where? If not, why not?
  • If you could time travel into the future, what is the one thing you would like to see invented/achieved/discovered/solved or done when you got there? Why?
  • What do you think might be some risks associated with time travel?



Practice Makes Perfect

COMPREHENSION: Watch and listen – choose the correct option for questions 1-5. Then, in pairs, take 3-5 minutes to brainstorm question 6 and report your ideas to the rest of the group. Go to TED-Ed to find out more.


1. How many seconds did Sergei Krikalev time travel into his own future?

A 0.01 seconds

B 0.02 seconds

C 0.03 seconds

D 0.04 seconds


2. What effect might make significant time travel to the future commonplace one day?

A Time alleviation

B Time relaxation

C Time dilation

D Time degradation


3. In which theory does Albert Einstein put forward his ideas on the nature of time?

A Special relativity

B General relativity

C Clock relativity

D Space relativity


4. How many millionths of a second each day would the satellites of the Global Positioning System be wrong by if the time dilation they experience due to their speed was not corrected for?

A 3

B 7

C 11

D 15


5. If you traveled around space at 99.9999% of the speed of light, for what seemed to you like 10 years, roughly what would be the year on Earth when you got back?

A 2900

B 4090

C 7990

D 9000


6. Think about what it might be like for someone from the 21st century arriving back to Earth in the year 9000. Can you see any problems they might encounter? Imagine if someone from 7000 years ago arrived now.


1. B  2. C  3. A  4. B  5. D


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