Every time you catch a sci-fi movie or TV show showing characters messing around with time, don’t you take a moment to wonder if it’s even possible? Can real people actually pull off stunts like that? Stop time! Seriously? Well, in order to find the answers to those questions, we need to dig deep into the farthest corners of physics.
But if we keep logic and rationale aside just for a moment to imagine if pausing time was really possible, have you considered what the world and life in it be like?
A hypothetical scenario
Picture that you achieved the iconic stunt of stopping time, even if it is for a couple of seconds. What would it feel like?
People around you would probably be standing still, totally frozen. The wind would stop blowing and rivers and oceans would be standing still. The entire universe would stop functioning like it should. But then what? What would you, the only being able to move in such a scenario, do?
Before you run off with a passion to execute mayhem or stick a friend's finger up their nose, there’s something you must consider. The entire universe stopped working, right? So technically, the atmosphere would also be frozen, and so would you!
Bummer, ain't it? Turns out, even in your wildest imagination, such a phenomenon won’t work out.
Understanding the time-space handshake
There are scenarios when time can become extremely off-speed depending on how steady an observer is moving as compared to another observer. If a person is traveling in a spaceship nearing light speed, time will seem to pass more slowly than a person staying on Earth. But this is not how you can stop time! Similarly, there’s a fair chance that two clocks may differ in relativity, yet each of them will still record time as per their own time reference.
There are uncountable movies and tv shows that have used the reference of time travel or time halt as a main plot of the story, which is why these scenarios raise a great deal of questions and assumptions in real life. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist (CIT), questions - are these reel life protagonists stopping air along with time? If yes, it's for sure they'd have to prepare getting imprisoned by the air. Also, they should know they wouldn’t be able to get a clear vision in such a case since the light rays won’t reach their eyeballs. Therefore, there's no consistent framework where time can be stopped. Hmm, makes sense doesn’t it?
So what’s the answer?
Unfortunately, the dream of stopping time seems to be totally impossible. Breaking the space-time continuum or bringing time to a halt is not only a technical glitch, it's physically unattainable. Playing with time is like dismantling the laws of nature. Something that'll only end on a bad note!