A true time travel story

When I was a frosh at Tech, my friends and I decided to build a time machine. We sat around pondering, using whatever little knowledge we had of the subject to come up with something.

However, we were not smart enough to dream up something original, but we decided to not give up. It was a goal we were going to stick with in case we solved it. Then, one of us came up with the idea that if we were successful some day in the future, than our first priority should be to travel back in time and tell the younger us's to keep cranking. That is, we wanted to create a time-loop that ensured our success. How could we do this?

It was early in the week, and we decided to set a very specific time and location to meet our future selves. The date we picked was the following Friday. We chose an outdoor location, in case there was a lot of whizbang sparking cool stuff, etc ... The location was the stone bridge in front of the Milikan library and we decided to meet at a time when there wouldn't be many people around. So the time was Friday at midnight in front of the library.

The four of us continued to develop ideas during the week. We also collected recording equipment, a camera, video camera, tape recorder, etc ... to record the momentous occasion. Finally, Friday rolled around and we went up to the bridge around 11 PM. We scoured the bridge for anything unusual ... in case our future selves screwed up and came too early and found nothing. At one point, a campus security officer ambled over and inquired into our presence out so late at night. We explained our situation. Shaking his head, he left us alone.

As the midnight hour approached, we waited ... tape rolling, cameras ready. At midnight ... nothing. Hmmm, what happened. We really had psyched ourselves into believing something would happen. We started shifting around uncomfortably when at 12:01, I suddenly noticed a glint in the middle of the bridge. Holding the camcorder, I ran up to the center of the bridge to identify the source. There, sitting right in the middle of the bridge was ...

A 5 amp Fuse!!

This fuse was very similar to the ones we used in our freshman physics laboratory kits for circuit experiments. We did scour the bridge, right? This fuse wasnt there before. Was this the sign we were waiting for? Confused, and a little disappointed, we picked up the fuse and headed back to the dorm.

Back in my room, we sat around in kind of a circle, with the fuse sitting in the middle of us like a campfire. We started to philosophize and glorify the fuse in front of us. Maybe, we thought, We sent a fuse because we couldnt send something more revealing. Some sort of do not disturb the timeline too much kind of rule. Maybe it was impossible to actually send a person, or anything large back in time. Maybe the fuse was symbolic? and more bullshit like that ... Then, it occurred to me - if this fuse is indeed from the future, then it must be indestructable, because it has to survive into the future to eventually find its way back here. At this point, my roomate, who was not involved in the whole affair, looked at me and smirked."I could destroy that fuse right now if I wanted to."

"Well indeed you could, but the point is ... you wont", I replied

He didn't respond, but instead picked up a sock and his math book, put the sock over the fuse and then slammed the book on top of it. Needless to say, the fuse was shattered.

"Huh ..." was about all I could come up with.

And could be the anticlimactic ending to this story ... but there is one more quick anecdote I would like to mention which may or may not be related ...

Back in 1982, when I was in 4rth grade, I was visiting India with my parents. We went to visit some relatives of mine who lived out in the country. They had a big house with a nice open courtyard with a high stone wall going all around it. At some point, I wandered away from all the adults in the main room and started exploring the courtyard outside. That's when I ran into another little Indian boy, about my age, who looked rather strikingly like me, and who had my exact name. How neat, I thought ... and I talked to the boy about something, I dont remember what anymore. Later, I returned to the adults in the main room and told them about the boy I met in the courtyard. I remember everyone got very concerned and started searching around the house. I think they thought a theif might have gotten in, or something. They found nobody ...

So anyways, that's my story. Either I've been blessed with a fuse and my double from the future, or I have an overactive imagination... Dare I say it? Ok, I will ...

Only time will tell

Hypothetically, if you were to travel back in time, no matter what you do or don't do, you will have changed something. Your mere existence there would be different from what originally happened. So, whatever changes you make (however small) will affect the timeline you are in. With the timeline altered, the event in which you originally went back in time will also be slightly (or drastically) changed. If it did not affect the fact that you traveled back in time, then it will have affected some reason, or means of you traveling back in time. Thus, when you traveled back in this timeline, you will change the timeline some other way.

This process will continue repeatedly until it comes to the right circumstances that you never traveled back in time anyway. The preceding hypothetical situation would happen that way if there is only one timeline. If there is more then one timeline, then upon traveling back in time, you will also shift into a different dimension/timeline. One that has the occurrences of what happens due to the changes you would have made because of traveling back in time.

I think I've figured out a way that time travel could actually work. Of course, we'd need an ansible first, but all sci-fi novels seem to have those, so I think we can safely assume they'll be invented by the time time travel is a real necessity.

Erwin Schroedinger theorized that the universe is infinite. As such, every possible scenario, ever imagained by anyone, has been played out somewhere. So, given this, we can assume that there are infinite worlds identical to earth, only they happened to be offset by one second. Or two. Or three. And so on.

So, we just hop into our ansible-enabled spaceship and scan for the earth which happens to be offset such that the present is equal to the time we want to visit. Say, the fall of the Roman Empire. We find a world the same as earth, only it happened to be formed a few centuries later, so it's still at that point in history. We then open a material ansible connection to it, zip on over there, and there we are!

We don't even need to worry about the time traveler's worst nightmare, changing the past, because we have our own world safe and sound, several thousand lightyears away. Furthermore, if we stay too long, we can return not to own world of birth, but to a world identical the one of our birth, including the event of our time traveling. Only set back to the point where we would arrive say, five minutes after we left. It would be handy if you don't want to miss, like, tonight's episode of Futurama.
In fact, you could even go back to a world where some minor thing is different. Like, a world where All Your Base Are Belong To Us never came to the public attention.

Kind of selfish of us though, to leave our loved ones back home on the original world, never to see us again. It evens out though, because while our loved ones on the original world never see us again, neither do the ones on the infinite number of other worlds, with the exception of the one that we do return to.

It sort of gives you a sense of just how insignificant you are, and why human cloning would be a idea. Imagine that, time travels proves that cloning is a Bad Thing. More at 11.

There are two broad categories of Time Travel in fiction.

The one kind is problematic, and inconsistent. This is the kind found in the Back to the Future movies, the Terminator movies, and most Star Trek TV episodes. In this kind of time travel, you can go back in time and alter history. There is some nuance as to whether the person doing the changing remembers the 'original' history, or remembers the new one. Of course, this kind of time travel gives you all sorts of paradoxes, like killing your grandmother before you were born (I use this link because it's there.. more accurately it should be "killing your grandmother before your father was born").

The other, consistent form of time travel is found in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. In this kind of time travel, history already incorporates the changes that will have been made by time travellers. So, Ted 'Theodore' Logan, says 'Remember the trash can', the trash can indeed appears above the villain's head. Similarly, Ted's dad's keys are missing from the beginning of the movie, because in the middle of the movie, he goes back in time to get the keys and leaves them behind the police station sign, where it's been all along.

Although widely regarded as a silly movie, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is one of the few movies with a self-consistent logic in Time Travel. Another is 12 Monkeys, and perhaps Star Trek IV. In books, the subtle form of time travel that happens to Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect when they get stranded in prehistoric Earth in the Hitchhiker Trilogy (by the late, great Douglas Adams) is also of this second type.

I've always believed time travel was possible (I think we're travelling through time right now), but I don't think it would work exactly the way it did in the movies.

First off, travelling through time is travel through only one dimension, leaving yourself stationary in reference to the three primal dimensions. Imagine stepping into a time machine, and then stepping out into the cold vacuum of space because the Earth has continued its orbit while you were busy getting your autograph book ready for Jesus. Even if you tried to synchronize your flight plans with the revolution of our planet, you would be 30km/s closer to understanding Newton's Laws of Motion.

Speaking about physics (from an untalented physicist's point of view), shouldn't time be considered as flowing in more than one direction? It feels pretty unbalanced from a physical standpoint, to have time flow in one direction but not (the/an) other. Also, when I think of time flowing in one direction, I think of a ray, with a definite starting point, shooting off toward infinity. If time were infinite, however, wouldn't it go in both directions like a line? Or in every direction? A scenario like this just feels like it clears up the idea of moving backwards through time. Of course, I've always been under the impression that time was more or less infinite, though I don't really have the cognitive capacity to understand infinity as anything more than a circle. Maybe somebody could help clear that up for me.

If I'm right, however, and time is interminable and time travel is possible, the reason why there weren't a googol people at the birth of Christ or Elvis's first concert is because people will have killed themselves off before the secrets of chronogation are made apparent, or they became truly enlightened and had a good, working understanding of how time can be utilized, thus realizing the true havoc what could be wreaked should the timestream be tampered with. With this kind of knowledge, the Civilization would either actively bar lesser beings from time travel (which they may already have done), or work to reconstruct our timeline (you know, like in Peabody's Improbable History or Time Squad) until it was silky and smooth and unable to be fucked-with by some kid with a bicycle and an overdose of riboflavin.

So, in closing, I think time travel will be possible sometime after the Singularity, but by that juncture we won't need it or will see it as a burden.

This is how time travel is possible:

I always liked the theory postulated in the Red Dwarf episode "Backwards" where the beloved, goofy British space travelers from the hapless ship Red Dwarf travel to a different dimension quite by accident and arrive on an Earth where everybody and everything is moving backwards. People even talk backwards and signs are even written backwards. They theorize that, in this dimension, the universe had expanded all it was going to expand and was now shrinking, and hence since time and matter are related, the matter traveling backwards caused time to go backwards as well. This leads to the conclusion that the universe is forever in a cycle of expanding and contracting and that time is moving forwards and backwards, respectively, and right now we are just in one of the cycles.

Now how does this relate to time travel? Simple. It has always been a theory that travel to the past is impossible because, first off, it would create paradoxes, and second, you can't go anyplace that doesn't exist anymore, i.e. past events are over with and there's no way to revisit them. But time travel to the future is possible. However, in this expanding and contracting universe model, you can travel to the past by traveling to the future (which is possible by some theories of quantum physics); just go far enough into the future that you go to the end of the cycle you're in now, pass the backwards phase, past where there is another Big Bang, and then stop at whatever time period you wish. And to get back to where you came from, travel to the future some more. And there will be no paradoxes because if you change something it will be no more damaging that crap you're doing right now because it is the future and it won't screw up anything in your past or create a paradox.

Now all you need to do is build a time travel machine. I suggest using the very plausible method described in the book Time Line (for God's sake don't use the movie for reference) by Michael Crichton wherein via quantum foam the travelers are "faxed" through time using matter transportation technology. One of the main things needed for that is a quantum computer, a machine powerful and fast enough to crunch a human being into data (every cell, every molecule, every atom) and spit it out.

Or you could use a DeLorean.

I have always been interested in the nature of time travel, and after having a dream a few years ago in which I met a future self who warned me of impending danger (That old chestnut,) I developed this theory. Now, I haven't really done scientific research on this, so if it already exists, I apologize for taking credit for it. Also, if you find any glaring theoretical errors, feel free to make fun of me.

Alright, check this:

Ever see those movies where there are two time periods happening at the same time? I'll use a crappy movie as an example. In the movie Frequency, a man uses a radio to talk with his father in the past. I forget the exact event, but at some point, the man needs something, let's say, a gun. The father takes the gun, and buries it under the floorboards in a certain room, where it suddenly reappears in the present timeline for the man to use. I don't quite agree with the movie, but it helped me make the theory.

Each and every second of time is its own isolated dimension. Instead of Time moving on, we're just shifting dimensions. Thus, every moment in time is happening at the same time, just across different dimensions. It's like a bad episode of Quantum Leap. That is how the son can talk to his father - it isn't that his voice is traveling through time. His voice is traveling through dimensions of time to other periods that are happening at the same moment. So, time travel, therefore, isn't the ability to send someone back in time. It's the ability to send them across dimensions to other moments.

I don't know if I can explain it a lot clearer than that. And that's not too clear. But it does help prove some anti-time travel theories wrong. Lots of people, when faced with the issue of time travel, fall back on the same question. "If time travel were possible, why haven't we been visited yet?"

First of all, who’s to say that we haven't? (See John Titor) But, closer to my theory, since all dimensions occur simultaneously, what happens in one directly effects what happens in others. Like the father who hides the gun in the floorboards for his son to find, something that happens now instantaneously affects future dimensions. Therefore, until we create a time machine in a present dimension, one won't exist in future dimensions. However, the second a working time machine exists, it will exist in all future dimensions, and we will suddenly get a huge amount of travelers visiting our dimension.

This begs another question, however: The second we create the time machine, it will exist in the future, in which case, visitors are bound to go to the past, and show them the machine, so our present reality would change, and everything would suddenly combine into one reality and one dimension of everythingness. The time machine would connect all the dimensions, so, conceivably, either the world would end, or it would change forever. Time Machines could be the new modes of transportation; Dimensions could be the new cities. I can see it now:

"Those are great pants! When did you get them?"
"I got them in 2004.05.31.11.49.36"

Alright, maybe it's a little farfetched, and maybe I'm just a dumb kid with crazy theories based on nothing, but at least it’s something crazy to wrap your mind around.

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