13 June 2015

Careful With That Time Machine!

Problem #1
An Indeterminate Past

The common linear view of Time sees the past as determined, the future as indeterminate. As a result, we expect time travellers heading to the past  to know what kind of world they can expect to encounter.

Well, our would-be Time Lords may be in for a shock, because the linear view of Time is entirely subjective..

In reality, phenomena and events only become (and then remain) determined in the present. There is no objective evidence to back up the supposition that the past is any less indeterminate than when it formed part of the future.

Instead of the linear dichotomy of Determined Past and Indeterminate Future, time travellers should be prepared for the non-linear dichotomy of a Determining Present surrounded in all directions by Indeterminate Time

Should someone go for a joyride in a stolen time machine, setting the coordinates for 1950s America, as likely as not they would encounter an America under occupation by the Axis powers, or an America where everybody speaks Dutch or French, or even find that dinosaurs remain the dominant species on the planet.

Should time travellers somehow overcome Problem #1, they may find themselves coming up against Problem #2.

Problem #2
Exclusivity

There are plenty of instances in science fiction where we are told that meeting your past or future self (in person) could have all kinds of cataclysmic consequences.

Such plot devices may not be too far off from the truth.

It is conceivable that there are laws of physics that simply won't allow your quanta or whatever to enter a part of space-time they already occupy.

This hypothetical Law of Exclusivity could result in time travellers being diverted (or 'bounced' or 'bumped') to foreign adjacent universes, bringing us back up against Problem #1.

If this is the case, we can expect time travellers to avoid journeying within their own native time periods. Nobody likes being eaten by surprise dinosaurs, so I suppose only mad scientists and desperate fugitives would make the attempt.

Addendum


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