The Paradox of Time Travel May Have Been Solved by an Undergrad

If we can’t change our past, what does that say about our futures?

Katrina Paulson
6 min readSep 6, 2021


This article was originally published in the author’s paid Newsletter, Curious Life.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered what your life’s purpose is. Yeah, me too. Humans have wondered for millennia. Probably since the moment we gazed at the stars and felt connected to something bigger than us. The debate about fate has similarly philosophized throughout time.

Stories of heroic champions destined to conquer evil villains, and tales about soulmates or one true love have danced across nearly every culture in one way or another.

On the other hand, some fight this premise. The idea of fate means there’s no free will, and if we have no free will, then why do anything at all? Incidentally, this debate also falls within the realm of time travel. More specifically, the paradoxes surrounding time travel.

Issues with time travel

While we create shows, movies, and books focused on traveling through time, most people tend to agree that it’s impossible — whether for biological or philosophical reasons.

The most common objection revolves around inconsistencies like the “grandfather paradox.” This says that if you traveled back in time to kill your grandfather when he was young, doing so would mean you’d never be born. If you were never born, you wouldn’t be able to travel through time to kill your grandfather. See the problem?

Thus, time travel isn’t possible. There are several other paradoxes too. Even ones as simple as, if time travel were possible, why haven’t we ever been visited by time travelers from the future?

These questions have stumped scientists, philosophers, and even science fiction writers for decades, but that hasn’t stopped them from hunting for answers. After all, we can’t hope to travel through time until we understand how Time works. Is it like space? A dimension we can move freely about in — or something else entirely?

Physicists especially have taken an interest and formulated various possibilities to get around these obstacles. Even Stephen Hawkings had…



Katrina Paulson

I wonder about humanity, questions with no answers, and new discoveries. Then I write about them here and on substack!