Ultimate gadget: time machines are here now?

This New Scientist illustration shows how time travel might just work

Adventurous travellers might want to mark this May in their diaries as the dawn of the age of time travel - at least that's what a team of Russian scientists are suggesting could happen.

The trigger that might just herald the arrival of the first time travellers and, thus, the first usable time machines will be the inauguration of a research facility in Switzerland dedicated to smashing and understanding the building blocks of matter.

Near light speed

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), run by CERN, will deliberately collide sub-atomic particles that are traveling around a 27km loop at close to the speed of light. The goals of the scientists working on the project include filling many gaps in our understanding of physics, but there are suggestions that the LHC could create miniature black holes and wormholes in space-time.

Russian mathematicians Irina Aref'eva and Igor Volovich from Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow suggest that there's an outside possibility that such wormholes could be the key to a future civilisation understanding time travel. Naturally, once their time machines were built, travelling back to when it all started would have obvious appeal to them.

Grandfather clause?

The fact that we've never seen time travellers yet simply underlines that moving back through time would be possible only as far back as the creation of the first time machine - and that could be the LHC.

Whether or not our worldview is about to be turned upside-down in a few weeks is anybody's guess, but the scientists are saying that we should at least be ready for the possibility of meeting our great, great grandchildren a little early.