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Communications of the ACM

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Between the Abbey and the Edge of Time


Lacock Abbey entrance

Credit: Getty Images

It's my 25th year visiting Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, England, arriving early as usual. As I sit in the hire car, I replay in my mind the day I realized how I might manipulate time. Ever since my doctorate in astrophysics, I'd been researching the equations of general relativity, focusing on the crossover between relativity and the quantum world. But my true interest was "closed timelike loops"—what some might call a time machine.

It was here, 25 years prior, I had worked out how a quantum computer could use a loophole in Einstein's gravitational field equations to make time travel possible. I was in England for a conference on quantum gravity and took the opportunity to visit the home of a personal hero, 19th-century photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Every moment remains etched in my memory and I have tried to repeat them each year since.


 

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