Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the need for the traveler to experience the intervening period (at least not at the normal rate). Any technological device – whether fictional or hypothetical – that would be used to achieve time travel is commonly known as a time machine.
Although time travel has been a common plot device in science fiction since the late 19th century and the theories of special and general relativity allow methods for forms of one-way travel into the future via time dilation, it is currently unknown whether the laws of physics would allow time travel into the past. Such backward time travel would have the potential to introduce paradoxes related to causality, and a variety of hypotheses have been proposed to resolve them, as discussed in the sections Paradoxes and Rules of time travel below.
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