Wanna Spend Some Time?

20 Jun

It was a terrible film. So terrible, in fact, that I’ve sworn to never again mention its name. I should’ve listened when that crazy old guy in the filthy lab coat accosted me on the way in, screaming: “Don’t go in there! Run, for your frickin’ life!” But did I listen? No, I kicked him in the nuts and went in. Who was that guy?

Had I listened, I might have saved $30 and used that 2 ½ hours in the pursuit of more noble and rewarding pursuits. Like shaving my balls. Or inventing time travel so I could go back and warn myself not to go in to such a crap movie.

Were I to actually travel back or forward in time to meet myself, would that meeting be occurring in my past, my present or my future? Or all three at once? Stephen Hawking asserts that time travel is only possible into the past because the future is undetermined. But in order for fully-fledged time travel to occur, all events must occur simultaneously – past, present and future are all one.

In order to accept that time travel is feasible, one must ponder the structure of time. Time has been variously described as a line, a spiral or a continuous loop. There are Fors and Againsts with each of these models, which, for the twin sakes of brevity and not blowing your frickin’ minds I won’t go into just now. Regardless of the structure, the key consideration is the mechanism which would enable one to control the movement of physical matter through the fourth dimension. For argument’s sake, let’s take the last model, the loop, where time travel would involve propelling oneself forward or back along the continuum. This potentially offers an intriguing explanation for the phenomena of déjà vu. Imagine you jumped back slightly in time to relive a few seconds of your past, and were vaguely conscious of having done it before. Conversely, the opposite of déjà vu is jamais vu, the sensation of experiencing familiar things for the first time. Imagine you were propelled forward slightly in time, and were momentarily disoriented. The answer to the riddle of time travel is to identify and harness whatever natural phenomena causes these brief temporal shifts and permits physical matter to move through time.

Discussions about the plausibility of time travel invariably dissolve into a mire of hypotheticals about causality. One theory I particularly like is that time travellers would somehow be prevented from performing acts which would cause a paradox. For example, if I went back in time and tried to kill the inventor of time travel at birth, I would somehow be prevented from committing the act, perhaps because he went back and warned his mother of my intentions and she killed me first. But then if I was never born, there would never be the threat of me killing him so there would be no reason for him to go back….and so on and so on until your brain explodes. Basically it seems that any and every event would likely lead to some sort of paradox and therefore time travel will only be discovered if it was never used.

Despite all of this, even if it takes 50 years and all my life savings; costs me my relationship and all my friends; even if I’m a crazy old guy in a filthy lab coat, I’m going to make it my mission to discover the secret of time travel, go back and warn myself: “Don’t go in there! Run, for your frickin’ life!” That’s how bad the movie was.

Wait, didn’t I say that already?

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