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Cramer’s Time Experiment Funded

When you’ve read Analog as long as I have — and I date back to the days when it was named Astounding — you develop a real fondness for some of the primary players. That’s one reason I’m glad to hear the good news about John Cramer’s time travel experiment, which has received enough private donations to be pursued. Cramer’s ‘Alternate View’ columns have been running in the magazine since 1984, covering everything from cosmology to space drives and quantum mechanics. I’ve always admired his clear, straightforward style.

A physicist at the University of Washington, Cramer caught the attention of the press in recent months by discussing his hopes of testing the idea of quantum retrocausality. Here we’re in the domain of what Cramer calls the Transactional Interpretation, in which the processes of quantum mechanics involve waves traveling both forward and backward in time. His experiment, which may begin as early as next month, will test whether photons can communicate in reverse time.

The notion, absurdly reduced, is this: Entangled photons seem to be able to affect each other no matter how widely separated in time or space, the so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox that illuminates the bizarre nature of quantum mechanics. Do a measurement on one and it has an immediate effect on the other. Cramer is testing whether this ‘spooky action at a distance’ is the result of communications that move backwards and forwards in time.

I won’t run through the experimental apparatus again since we’ve covered it before, both in Of Time Travel and Funding and in an article called Backwards in Time? Each contains links to further background for those interested. But what pleases me is that this is the kind of experiment — relatively inexpensive, highly controversial and fraught with implications — that seems ideal for philanthropic rather than government funding. It’s a pleasure to see such money flowing, even though a broad consensus in the scientific community seems to hold that Cramer is wasting his time and other people’s money.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote up the funding story on the 12th and provided this quote, noting the consequences of failure:

Cramer said it’s possible that the primary goal of his experiment could fail and yet still produce something of value. Some new subtlety about the nature of entanglement could be revealed, he said, even if the photons don’t engage in measurable non-local communication. The “disentanglement” itself, he said, could be quite revealing.

“It wouldn’t be as nice as a positive result, but it would certainly be interesting and publishable,” Cramer said. If there is an interesting negative result or a half-positive result, he said he will buy more precise equipment to see if he can tease out what’s happening. Cramer has all the money he needs for this phase, but he hopes to see a second phase.

Cramer, whose credentials include work at the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Europe’s CERN particle physics installation as well as his time at the University of Washington, has received more than $35,000 from people who read about his ideas on the Internet. The cash has flowed in from artists, scientists, business people, and space enthusiasts like Walter Kistler, founder of Kistler Aerospace. More traditional sources like NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had already turned down Cramer’s proposal.

What next? We’ll see whether the Transactional Interpretation receives any support in the experiments soon to be launched. Meanwhile, have a look at one of Cramer’s ‘Alternate View’ columns called A Farewell to Copenhagen?, in which he discusses a quantum test called the Afshar Experiment, and provides background on the competing Copenhagen and Many Worlds Interpretations. No one knows what will come next out of his laboratory, but anything connected with time travel seems to have caught the eye of Net watchers, so we’re sure to hear about it quickly.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam June 15, 2007, 17:36

    Hi Paul

    John Cramer’s a clever guy – the Transactional Interpretation proves that – and personally I’d really like to see Copenhagen and the Many-Worlds relegated to the theoretical dust-bin, but personal preference doesn’t account for much in physics, as Einstein’s experience shows. Cramer’s right that the experiment could lead to a lot of interesting new insights into the quantum, either way.

  • Administrator June 15, 2007, 20:13

    Adam, yes, I like Cramer a lot, though I have no expertise whatsoever in what he’s doing and hence watch only as an interested bystander. The experiment surely seems worth doing given that it’s privately funded and may reveal some insights that could come in no other way. So let’s see what happens.

  • Nemos June 16, 2007, 21:44

    in a “time dilation” sense; Cramer’s experiment should work – I’ve performed a similar experiment 5 years ago using a mechanical rotary system similar to a rotor head on a helicopter with multiple transceivers and associated equipment attached to the system – i found that high rotational speeds far above mach were necessary to achieve a useful time dilation ratio –

    should Cramer find his experiment to be a success, he will likely find that gyroscopic procession is the fundamental law of time dilation – basically, time will be 90 degrees out of phase with itself – Cramer will need to run his gizmo for four days continuous, in order to communicate one day into the past – this was the result of my experiment –

    i do feel that Cramer’s machine, which incorporates solid state devices such as the lasers will prove more useful than my machine as i have too many moving parts rotating at high speeds resulting in a hazardous environment as well as a low run time due to high wearing components

    good luck Cramer


  • TechnoGirl June 17, 2007, 1:29

    Great progress on that time machine experiment there Dude. Perhaps next time you can run it for twelve days so you can remind yourself to get your meds three days earlier?

  • Nemos June 17, 2007, 12:52


    first off, I’m glad to see that you can at-least understand the basic dilation ratio

    second, there is more to life on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies – (it means that you don’t know everything)

    third, comments such as yours will only discourage genuine people such as myself from sharing our creations beyond our clientele and local communities

    thank you ever so much


  • ljk June 17, 2007, 21:47

    Nemos, what evidence do you have for the results from your

  • Eric James June 18, 2007, 0:35

    Past and Present… a Time Paradox.

    I left a message for myself tomorrow, but I found it today. The message was to remind myself to leave a message for me tomorrow, so that I might find it today. I wonder if I decide not to leave the message tomorrow if I might still find the message today?

    If I don’t leave the message tomorrow but I found the message today, where did the message I found today come from?

  • Diana Jennings June 18, 2007, 16:18

    I would like to point out that NIAC did not turn down John Cramer’s proposal. His proposal, like dozens of others, was in the midst of a peer review process, and it might have been a funded proposal, but that peer review process had to be cancelled as NASA has terminated its funding for NIAC. The NIAC funded credible ideas that represent advances in systems and architectures and because of it, a constellation of creative, valuable ideas have emerged to change the way many thing about our future possibilities.

    I for one will be watching John Cramer’s progress with great interest.

    Diana Jennings, PhD
    Associate Director, NIAC (for a little while longer)

  • Administrator June 18, 2007, 16:38

    Good point, Diana, and thanks for the clarification! I hadn’t realized the proposal was still in the process when the recent funding termination was announced. We all hope for some reprieve for NIAC.

  • Carissa June 23, 2007, 15:27

    Find out “How to Make Money Traveling Through Time” in Part 2 of my five-part series… no quantum mechanics discussed, but i’d love to get some feedback on how i can interweave some of these theories into a more or less fictional and historical account of the past 100 years.

    carissa-ann.blogspot.com – Part 1 is, naturally, the post preceding Part 2

  • george scaglione June 23, 2007, 16:32

    hello all today was the first time for some reason that i familurized myself with the above.i hope that we will all be kept aware of cramers experiments as they go forward!and diana i do sincerely wish niac the very best.to give you no funding at all would be a crime. so… as i go to read more about this,all the best to everyone! your friend george

  • ljk July 19, 2007, 9:39

    Backward Research Goes Forward

    MSNBC July 17, 2007


    University of Washington physicist
    (and science-fiction author) John
    Cramer is moving forward with his
    experiment in backward causality and
    nonlocal quantum communication….


  • Jonesy July 22, 2007, 5:06

    I support anything that ruffles the feathers of near-sighted nay-sayers. I have argued at length in support of and against Cramer’s ideas. Sadly, the same jerks that denied his request for funding will be the same jerks that take advantage of his discoveries… positive or negative. It’s sad that we’ve seen the ill effects of forward thinking within our time (i.e. the atom bomb). Who knows what evil ideas could hatch from the ability to communicate with the past? All I know is that rich, powerful, and greedy folks seem to reap most of the benefits of cutting-edge technology. I don’t know what is to come of all of this but, I hope, we don’t end up messing with things we can’t comprehend. If only we could find a way to keep the rich and greedy from exploiting the discoveries of the forward-thinking. If anything, I hope the experiment fails. I’m too afraid of the American government’s power to hope for anything other than failure. If our current administration could use science to travel back in time, it would kill Darwin. Does anyone else see a problem with this?

  • ljk August 7, 2007, 16:13

    New Theoritical Model Eliminates Barriers To Time Travel

    “The machine is space time itself,” Professor Amos Ori explains. “If we were to create an area with a warp like this in space that would enable time lines to close on themselves, it might enable future generations to return to visit our time. We, however, could not return to previous ages because our predecessors did not create this infrastructure for us.”

    by Staff Writers

    New York, NY (SPX) Aug 07, 2007

    A Technion-Israel Institute of Technology physicist has developed a theoretical model of a time machine that could enable future generations to travel into the past. In his paper published in the July issue of Physical Review, noted time-travel theorist Professor Amos Ori provides practical solutions to a number of criteria long seen by other experts as obstacles to the realization of time travel.

    Ori’s theory is actually a set of mathematical equations describing hypothetical conditions that, if established, could lead to the formation of a time machine, technically known as “closed time-like curves.”

    Previous theories addressing time travel are well grounded in Einstein’s General Relativity theory. Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has called time travel “an important subject for research,” but has also proposed some of the strongest challenges to the concept. General Relativity states, among other things, that the gravitational pull of large objects such as planets can actually bend time and space. Time travel research is based on bending space-time so far that the time lines actually bend back on themselves to form a loop.

    “We know that bending does happen all the time, but we want the bending to be strong enough and to take a special form where the lines of time make closed loops,” says Ori. “We are trying to find out if it is possible to manipulate space-time to develop in such a way.”

    Full article here:


  • ljk August 24, 2007, 11:13

    Warp drive and wormholes could be used for time travel, says physicist

    KurzweilAI.net – August 24, 2007


    Warp drive and stargate wormholes
    could be used for time travel to the
    past. That’s the surprising
    conclusion that controversial
    theoretical physicist and author Dr.
    Jack Sarfatti has reached from his
    research into dark energy and dark
    matter. Hubble image of dark matter
    ring in galaxy cluster Sarfatti, who
    was the inspiration for “Doc” in…


  • george scaglione August 25, 2007, 14:47

    ljk what fantastic times we are privilaged to live in.it seems every time i go on line lately i find one or another incredible and incredibly interesting theory!! thank you george

  • jack johnston December 17, 2007, 3:38

    Has Cramer conducted retrocausality test? Are results available? If not is a solid date set?

  • Administrator December 17, 2007, 10:00

    Jack, I have no recent update on Cramer’s experiment but will see if I can get a date or other information.

  • ljk January 4, 2008, 0:27

    Taking the trip of a lifetime

    The physics of time travel


  • Angelp February 6, 2008, 1:57

    I do believe some day time travel may be possible However. In theory it can be very powerful given the outcomes that can be changed all too easily accidentally. Therefore will it ever be a good thing to travel to the past or even the future since given any change may not be known except to those who already changed it? What if the change no matter how innocent causes repercussions that are too extreme to anyone’s life to better the difference.
    All things are connected and to change one minor thing can affect the future in unpredictable ways .One minor example is to say that “Mr x does not meet Miss R. They never meet or marry and therefore never have the child whom would one day give birth to the child who would create the cancer to all cancers being wiped out.
    I do believe that science is a great thing and discovery is utmost important to the planet of the future should we ever find a way to keep it safe and allow us the privilege of continuing to live on it. However we must think about the effect all things have on each other, as a paradox is not always a good thing to imagine.
    Just a thought. Though I think if I had the money I myself would give it to him just because many good things can come from an experiment even if it is not what we always thought it would be. Look at the new bed I now sleep on. It came from science for the NASA program. We do need however to think of rules to guide the use of it before we actually ever go to the past or future. Blessed Be to all good thinkers.

  • yuri February 4, 2009, 13:40

    Anyone has the update for Dr. Cramer’s latest results for his experiment. Thank you

  • Administrator February 4, 2009, 15:10

    yuri, good question! The last word I have is that setting up the experiment has proven more difficult than expected, so that Cramer does not yet have any results. I’ll post more as soon as I can get any further news.

  • ljk September 22, 2009, 13:18

    According to Paul March from a Talk Polywell comment:

    Dr. Cramer’s retrocausal experiment should be completed by the end of this year.

    And if verified it would buttress Dr. Woodward’s M-E (Mach Effect) arguments and provide a path to finally merging GRT (General relativity) with QM (Quantum Mechanics).

    Full article here: