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Rules for Time Travelers
May 14, 2009 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Rules for Time Travelers [Spoiler? alert.]
posted by BitterOldPunk (82 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Goddamn it, you spoiling fuck.
posted by DU at 10:13 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah... Way to turn off the stereo because it's after 11 p.m.
posted by pokermonk at 10:15 AM on May 14, 2009


Previously
posted by popcassady at 10:18 AM on May 14, 2009 [23 favorites]


If you go flying back through time and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.
posted by anti social order at 10:20 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is nicely thought out.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2009


It'd be cool if they went into the science behind the limitations a bit.
posted by no_moniker at 10:23 AM on May 14, 2009


Previously

Read the rules! You can't go back and time and post that since BOP is only NOW posting this. In the future you could go back to this thread but not any further
posted by poppo at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2009


Wonderful. The movie's been out for five minutes and it's been spoiled for me by an article in Discover Magazine.

A note that the second sentence of the article contains a major spoiler for a new movie would have been appreciated. Some of us hate crowds and won't rush to a theater on opening weekend.
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


A bit too dogmatic. And even then, Rule #9 basically says "The rules above aren't really rules!"

I'd add a Rule #11: "All of the above is subject to change. Physicists 1000 years from now may point at this list and laugh."
posted by vacapinta at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, you can go forward in the future

http://www.metafilter.com/91658/This-is-a-cat-reading-Nabokov-and-riding-a-bike
posted by poppo at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2009


Chill. The "spoiler" is fake, unless there was a scene missing in the screening I saw.
posted by COBRA! at 10:28 AM on May 14, 2009


ROSEBUD IS A SLED.

Jaysus, it's just a movie.
posted by everichon at 10:28 AM on May 14, 2009


Oh shit zarq, I didn't notice that. If only I could go back in time and change my post.

Mods, can you add a "MAJOR STAR TREK SPOILER ALERT" warning or something like that?

Plzkthxbai
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:28 AM on May 14, 2009


Oh, so it's NOT a spoiler? Never mind.

Screw a buncha Star Trek, anyway.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:29 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you go flying back through time and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.
posted by anti social order at 1:20 PM


And miss a chance at a time travel high five? Not me, man.
posted by orme at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Chill. The "spoiler" is fake, unless there was a scene missing in the screening I saw.

Oh.

Um... sorry. Carry on

If only I could go back in time and change my post.

Heh. :)
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2009


The actual spoiler: Spock travels back in time and is Kirk's hot, hot lover.
posted by COBRA! at 10:37 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The spoiler is a typo. Spock travels to the past and is Kirk's drama coach.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:37 AM on May 14, 2009


OMG SPOILER SPOCK AND KIRK PLAYED BY PEOPLE OTHER THAN NIMOY AND SHATNER

Also, the film tells the story of Han Solo and Chewbacca trying to get back to Chewie's home planet in time for "Life Day" and features the final appearance of Bea Arthur as the owner of the Tatooine spaceport cantina.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:41 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Rules are for authoritarians. I prefer guidelines, which is why I try to kill my grandfather every time I go back in time. (I don't care that they say "there are no paradoxes". I'm certain it can be done.)

Problem is, that fucker is fast, and clever.

Besides, everyone knows that when in doubt, you just need to consult the FAQ on the subject.
posted by quin at 10:42 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't exactly buy his variation on many worlds. If you go back in time, and change stuff, then you may simply be creating destructive interference between your old & new universes. So other universes would dominate the probability distribution. I don't know if you are decreasing your total probability of ever existing, but this seems likely under some naive "wave functions never collapse" many worlds theory.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Black holes are not time machines.

I am so taking mine back to Best Buy now. Lying punk salesman...
posted by Joe Beese at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2009


Spoiler: [redacted] travels to [redacted] and is [redacted]’s [redacted].

Why they wanna lie like that?
posted by ND¢ at 10:44 AM on May 14, 2009


Rules are for authoritarians. I prefer guidelines, which is why I try to kill my grandfather every time I go back in time. (I don't care that they say "there are no paradoxes". I'm certain it can be done.)

Problem is, that fucker is fast, and clever.


Since we're on the subject....
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hah! I posted this years ago, in an alternate universe.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2009


SPOILER: Throughout the entire movie, the "KHAAAAAAAAN" scream is playing faintly in the background.
posted by clockzero at 10:50 AM on May 14, 2009


Yeah, Luke's father. We know.
posted by pointilist at 10:51 AM on May 14, 2009


I don't like Rule #3. I see no reason to rule out the possibility of teleportation through space and time. Teleportation through space may happen first, but I don't know anything that would make teleportation through time impossible. The important thing would be to remember to do both at once, because if all you do is teleport through time, the likelihood of the earth still being under your feet when you pop up in the same location at a different time is slim (unless you really want to cut down on your available destination times).
posted by jermsplan at 10:54 AM on May 14, 2009


I thought "No, you can't go kill Hitler" was the first rule.
posted by Spatch at 10:59 AM on May 14, 2009


I envision a future where Shatner is shilling Priceline for time travelers. Because the companies that sell time travel will totally overcharge people.
posted by Shohn at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, I normally like your FPPs, but you are a serious asshole for posting this article with the gigantic spoiler with no warning.
posted by Malor at 11:03 AM on May 14, 2009


*spoiler*
posted by orme at 11:06 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


SPOILER: After actually reading the thread, Malor comes back to apologize to BitterOldPunk.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:18 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Malor, normally you're a pretty good commenter, but you're a serious asshole for not reading the thread and realizing the spoiler is a fake before calling someone an asshole.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2009


If time travel is unlikely, this idea is (unlikely)2

My PhD will focus on the effect of these additional terms in the unlikelihood expansion on bad movie scripts.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:25 AM on May 14, 2009


And if you do time travel, make sure to wear your shirt!
posted by bDiddy at 11:27 AM on May 14, 2009


"Excuse me, Rorschach. I'm informing Laurie ninety seconds ago...I-I'm sorry. It's these tachyons. They're muddling things up."

I'm getting a lot of milage out of this one!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:32 AM on May 14, 2009


Any article that uses the phrase "Think of it this way: imagine there were a race of super-intelligent trees, who could communicate with each other using abstract concepts but didn’t have the ability to walk." is ok by me.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Besides, everyone who knows me knows I'm a frivolous asshole.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2009


Yeah, I'm the serious one.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:39 AM on May 14, 2009


TV Tropes on the varying forms of time travel found in fiction. And an extensive listing of time travel tropes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:40 AM on May 14, 2009


˙dıɹʇ ʇsɐl ʎɯ uo dn ƃuıɥʇǝɯos pǝʍǝɹɔs ı ʞuıɥʇ ı 'dɐɹɔ 'ɥo
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh you spoiler apologists. If you have to argue and defend and explain why it's not a spoiler... it's a spoiler.

In this case, yeah it's still a spoiler, even if it's not true. Heck, subsequently telling people that it's not true is also a spoiler in itself.

For example, telling me "Bruce Willis is actually an alien from the future the entire time." is still a spoiler in that it will ruin (or at least taint) my viewing of Sixth Sense. Telling me "No, no, he's not from the future, it's something else." doesn't help much, and arguably makes it worse.

(Either way I'm better off and less spoiled by not hearing it.)
posted by rokusan at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2009


I'm the serious one. -- posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit

Now dance!
posted by rokusan at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2009


other good rules for time travel can be found in Robert Heinlein's amazing short story All You Zombies.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2009


Seriously though...

Let's say time travel is theoretically possible. Traveling "back" to a spacetime coordinate, which from the traveler's point of view is in their past relative to "when" they began their journey, would allow that traveler to observe a configuration of themselves which they might remember from their "past".

Wouldn't this imply that all objects in the universe basically form 4d tubes in spacetime which can be inspected at all coordinates they exist, like a curve in a graph?
Anyhow, wouldn't this completely negate the meaning of "present time" and "flow of time". Wouldn't each slice of my personal 4d tube represent a state of perception of present time? Is my current sense of present time a total delusion and my 4d tube extends already "past" this point in time and space and my fate is determined?

How could such a 4d tube have a "head" (present experience, open future) that "moves through time" if time itself is part of the coordinate system the tube is embedded in and part of the tube's own extent. If the concept of change and movement only makes sense in relation to time then a given 4d tube could only be said to change if it in turn was embedded in some sort of meta-time, basically a 5th time-like dimension.

Would the existence of time travel implicitely negate the validity of concepts such as "present time", "free will", "change", "movement" etc?

Now my head hurts. I think I'm going to start believing in TIMECUBE! It solves everything!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2009


Spoiler : Ron Weasley dies!
posted by jeffburdges at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2009


In this case, yeah it's still a spoiler, even if it's not true. Heck, subsequently telling people that it's not true is also a spoiler in itself.

WTF? Then any type of communication is a spoiler, from trailers to movie reviews to the overheard "I liked that movie," comment from a complete stranger, because if he had never let you overhear that conversation you could've gone on believing that the movie was so bad no one could possibly like it, but now you know at least one person on the planet enjoyed the god damn movie and that TOTALLY CHANGES YOUR PERCEPTION OF IT SO WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT FROM US?

You're not a snow white movie virgin and nothing is so refreshingly original that prior experience has no influence on your appreciation of it.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


rokusan, I'm generally on the side of those who prefer not to be spoiled, but that's going to far. By your logic, "there exists at least one movie in which a character dies" is a spoiler. Any discussion of movies at all becomes impossible.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:34 PM on May 14, 2009


I hate only eyeballkid.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:36 PM on May 14, 2009


"And miss a chance at a time travel high five? Not me, man."

When I'm at the airport, on the moving sidewalks, I try to get folks going the other way to give me a high five. I'm batting about .250 on it, with young, single folks the most likely to grin and give some skin, and old Asians the least likely.
posted by klangklangston at 12:37 PM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


The important thing would be to remember to do both at once, because if all you do is teleport through time, the likelihood of the earth still being under your feet when you pop up in the same location at a different time is slim (unless you really want to cut down on your available destination times).

I hear this a lot, and I always end up wondering, since we're talking about something as incredibly theoretical as time travel, why the assumption that space is absolute and not relative?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on May 14, 2009


Spoiler: Christopher Pine travels back in time to kill Shatner, so he can be the first and only Kirk.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:03 PM on May 14, 2009


SPOILER: The alien bad guy is NOT Tom Cruise.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:07 PM on May 14, 2009


[SPOILER ALERT]

But what if you detonate a small nuclear device to prevent an electromagnetic incident that leads to the construction of a containment mechanism that will eventually crash your airplane?
posted by ericbop at 1:16 PM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


[SPOILER]

Spock kills dumbledore!

[SPOILER]
posted by Sargas at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2009


Everything I need to know about time travel, Rule #6 in particular, I learned have learned will have been having learned from Robert A. Heinlein.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2009


Actually, the main issue with the spatial/time relativity theory is grossly outweighed by our understanding of how much the gravity well of a large mass changes the temporal relativity. Though I suppose you could probably track the absolute position by using the gravitational measurement to find the locus of the absolute spatial point on the mass as it travels through space and time itself. Though that makes you wonder if time and gravity have any direct effect upon each other. I guess this is where you' have to study a lot more black holes. Since the gravity beyond the event horizon of a black hole is essentially the point where the acceleration is faster than the speed of light, then you have to wonder if the relativistic temporal effects of any matter that is inside the event horizon is different that that in "normal" space.

Dammit. Now you all have me on a massive theoretical debate with myself on astrophysics again.

Also, as far as current fictional use of time travel, I think that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been the best use of time-travel and the altering/multi-verse theory in pop fiction so far. At the end of the season finale, they really went all out for the "you just time jumped into a universe where no one knows who you are", which is about 4 or 5 universes away from where the original Terminator movie was set. I think that's pretty freaking awesome use of time travel in fiction.
posted by daq at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


they really went all out for the "you just time jumped into a universe where no one knows who you are", which is about 4 or 5 universes away from where the original Terminator movie was set. I think that's pretty freaking awesome use of time travel in fiction.

If you like that sort of thing you should check out Primer.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:52 PM on May 14, 2009


Everything I haven need to wioll know about talking about time travel, I willan on-learned from Dr. Dan Streetmentioner.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:53 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Time is a benchmark of change, not a dimension. Treating it like a dimension just makes a whole lotta math easier, but you can't travel back and forth along it like an actual dimension. The best you could do is to somehow set the state of the universe to exactly the same state it was (or will be), say, 50 years in the past (or future), and let it go. ...Which would of course require infinite energy, or at least more energy than exists in the universe. So relax, there are no paradoxes with something that can't happen.

So says my great-great-great-grandson anyhow...
posted by LordSludge at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2009


I haven't seen the movie and have no idea if that spoiler is in fact a spoiler, but future readers are now hereby forwarned and I'm going back to whatever I was doing before this.
posted by cortex at 2:00 PM on May 14, 2009


I can't read this now as I don't have time. Tomorrow I'll come back to yesterday to read it. But, I probably will still be too busy. I'll also fix this tyop then.
posted by Elmore at 2:13 PM on May 14, 2009


So says my great-great-great-grandson anyhow...

Yeah, listen... about that.... I was going back in time as he was coming forward, I think it was probably about 2320 or so, but I can't remember if we were enslaved by giant robots or mole people so it's hard to pin down the exact date, anyhow, our time lines collided and as the Articles Of Chronological Displacement clearly state, we had to duel.

Technically, he beat me, but since I cheated, I had his timeline shifted while he wasn't looking and dumped him into the late 1880s. Just before I lost the signal, he was saying that he wanted to find a friendly face.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but here is a pretty fair chance that your great great great grandson might actually also be your great great great grandfather.

It's complicated, but if the holy documents are to be believed, the bright side is that it means that you don't have a Delta brainwave which might keep you safe from flying brains at some point in the future (but not too distant, if you catch my drift. You might want to think about spending that 401k in the next decade or so, if you know what I mean...)
posted by quin at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2009


We travel into the future all the time, at a fixed rate: one second per second.

For the record, I made this into a joke almost two years ago.

posted by quin at 2:20 PM on May 14, 2009


We travel into the future all the time, at a fixed rate: one second per second.

Does anybody know if there is any separation or significance of the terms 'present' and 'future' for the purpose of these sorts (temporal physics?) of discussions? Because I always thought that we never really made it out of the present... because it's the present.

If there isn't I might get angry. The type of angry a monkey might get if he's doing a psychological test and keeps hitting the wrong button and getting an electrical shock. You know. Stupid angry.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:26 PM on May 14, 2009


Beings from the future observe Criswell -- now!
posted by mazola at 2:40 PM on May 14, 2009


Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:56 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then any type of communication is a spoiler, from trailers to movie reviews to the overheard "I liked that movie."

Yeah, I'm hardcore on this one I guess. I have a friend who actually reads the last few pages of a novel first... I'm the opposite of that.

But that example you made is qualitative and therefore fine. ("Wow, I didn't expect him to die at the end." would be a spoiler.) Anything not a serious plot point would also be fine, such as "I love that Hitchcock thing when she died her hair blond before going to the airport..."

And as for trailers being spoilers sometimes... absolutely. I'll respond with a big bold yes to that: I very much hate how (a particular school of modern) trailers tend to reveal way too much of movies. I haven't yet stuck my fingers in my ears and closed my eyes during "coming attractions", but more than a few times I sure wish I had. The best trailers are teasers, usually the first trailers for films. The second and third ones, when they show more and more of the plot (or in a comedy, all the best jokes), those irritate me.

Example: watch the new trailer for Moon, if you dare. It's just a trailer, right? Can't spoil anything.

I'm pretty sure you'll recognize the point at which it turns from a good trailer into one that reveals way too much. As with many trailers, I sure wish they'd saved that particular surprise for the damn movie itself.

Many of the films I've enjoyed most were the ones I knew the least about walking in. Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe not... but either way, trailers are the devil.
posted by rokusan at 4:37 PM on May 14, 2009


My favorite time-travel story, back on topic, is Spider Robinson's Time Pressure, mainly because about midway through the book, the main characters all have a sit-down salon in which they try to figure out the mindfuckery. And they do so by evaluating and rejecting each of the classic science fiction "models" for time travel, with references, one by one.

And then it all unravels in a lovely way.
posted by rokusan at 4:41 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And then it all unravels in a lovely way.

SPOILER!
posted by crawl at 5:10 PM on May 14, 2009


And then it all unravels in a lovely way. ---- SPOILER!

Unless I'm lying.

Okay that makes no sense until you read the book either.
posted by rokusan at 5:45 PM on May 14, 2009


Ooh, time pressure = good. Spoilers, otoh = bad.

I liked Primer, but the ending makes no sense. Why would the universe just end like that?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:00 PM on May 14, 2009


Durn Bronzefist, master of the ambush spoiler. ;)
posted by rokusan at 6:34 PM on May 14, 2009


Oh, yeah sorry about that. I'm still bummed because McNulty died.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:39 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everything I need to know about time travel, Rule #6 in particular, I learned have learned will have been having learned from Robert A. Heinlein.

You mean you willan on-learn it.
posted by kldickson at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


LordSludge, don't let your great-great-great-grandson do any of the cooking during his visit.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:55 PM on May 14, 2009


I am frightened and confused.
posted by LordSludge at 9:15 PM on May 14, 2009


I like to guess the spoilers of movies before I've seen them with friends I know will hate me for it. It's really satisfying. For instance, I guessed that Bruce Willis was a ghost in Sixth Sense having only heard the premise of the movie (kid sees ghosts) and nothing else. Then my friend yells out "You dick, I haven't seen it yet!". But, neither had I. I do the same thing with detective shows using meta-knowledge from watching so many of them to determine which overused character actor is the murderer. Works for House sometimes too. I think one time I guessed that the patient was suffering from gold heavy metal poisoning about three minutes into the show.

Anyway, rokusan, here's a spoiler... everyone is going to die and knowing what happens in a movie won't matter one bit. If that's not good enough, I'd probably refrain from participating in discussions... uh... ever? 'Cause dicks like me can spoil things without even seeing them first. As for Moon, I'm going to say that Sam Rockwells character is some sort of transporter clone.

(Serious question though, doesn't the spinning of the planet cause differentials in time?)
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:18 AM on May 18, 2009


Oh, yeah sorry about that. I'm still bummed because McNulty died.

I'm only on Season 1 of The Wire on Netflix and whether or not this is an actually true spoiler, I hate you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:24 AM on May 18, 2009


Hairy Lobster, the picture of time you are describing is often called the Block Universe theory.
posted by straight at 10:00 AM on May 18, 2009


I'm only on Season 1 of The Wire on Netflix and whether or not this is an actually true spoiler, I hate you.

That was kinda the point. Sucks when it's not something "everyone" has seen, doesn't it? True or not.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:35 PM on May 18, 2009


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