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June 25, 2001
5:32 PM   Subscribe

Book your visit from the future - Give them a legally binding invitation. Oh, and if you could go back in time, which one of these would you kill? And why?
posted by Kino (20 comments total)

 
Guy Smiley. Definitely. Too brash for his own good.
posted by wackybrit at 5:38 PM on June 25, 2001


That get-a-visit-from-a-time-traveler thing sounds completely insane, but somehow, it makes sense.

I'm too lazy to try it, though.
posted by zztzed at 6:14 PM on June 25, 2001


The problem I can see is that you can tell immediately if your message has failed: if you ask your traveller to visit you in five minutes, then dash off an application and give it to a trusted "Document Holder", and don't get the visit, you know your message was never received -- I can imagine some poor soul sitting at a desk writing himself silly, hoping each time that "this one" will work...

What's more -- has the author ever been visited by a time traveller? Surely he's tried the method himself...
posted by tweebiscuit at 6:48 PM on June 25, 2001


After thinking about this for a second it has become abunduntly clear that man/woman will never discover a means of time travel (or at least we will decide not to use it for whatever reason). We've never had a time traveler yet (one thats disclosed themselves anyway). Therefore, time travel capabilities are never discovered.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if man is to discover time travel in the future, then we would have had a visitor a long time ago. Am I making any sense here?
posted by howa2396 at 6:50 PM on June 25, 2001


twee makes my point a little more clear with an illustration. :)
posted by howa2396 at 6:51 PM on June 25, 2001


Travel through time is as easy as travel through space. We do both all the time. When we move slightly in any velocity we're tipping the scale a nanonanonano bit to the travel balance's favor. When we are idle we are still traveling, only in time, which is movement nonetheless in 3 dimensional spacetime. This site has bad news for hosts living pre-advent time travel.

On the wormhole idea that Carl Sagan popularized (invented theory?) John Gribbin says this:

Even then, there's one snag. It seems you can't use a time machine to go back in time to before the time machine was built. You can go anywhere in the future, and come back to where you started, but no further. Which rather neatly explains why no time travellers from our future have yet visited us -- because the time machine still hasn't been invented!

But. . .I must point out to Dr. Gribbin (whom I have no business pointing anything out to), this does not negate that time travel has not been achieved elsewhere (elsetime) in the Universe. I recommend Stephen Baxter's Manifold Time for a light treatment of what beings who perfected time travel would be doing with themselves once attained. Otherwise, get your hands on Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe! I'm reading it now.
posted by crasspastor at 7:16 PM on June 25, 2001


Even when you're standing still, you're travelling through time, at the speed of one second per the time of one second. There's simply no known way to shift into reverse, or hit the accelerator or the brake.

This 'legally binding' idea doesn't take into account government control of time travel. We already know that the planet's governments are trying to control space travel, and doing a good job of it so far. There's also laws already being debated in hallowed halls across the world regarding cloning. Unless a future you or any descendants are the actual inventors of a time machine (or becomes bloody rich), odds are you or your descendants won't be given the opportunity to fulfill any documented request from a you in the past, even if it is allegedly legal and binding. Government will override that.

Let's assume time travel is invented. An individual or a group makes a series of discoveries based on scientific reasoning and they make it work. At first they'd do some preliminary tests. Maybe going back in time a day or a week, until they got more daring. Eventually their discovery would leak out, and everything from the media to the world's leaders would become alerted. It would quickly become an issue of the United Nations. If this technology fell into the wrong hands... imagine a group of neo-nazis going back in time to give Adolf a hand? Things could get messy.

A series of specific laws would be erected, to insure that no one goes back in time and changes history. Even if they were to attempt to change history for the better, there'd be no way to calculate how such changes would affect the lives of their present. It could even cause the inventor of the time machine to cease to exist. Paradoxes wouldn't be speculation anymore: they'd be real horrors.

We could actually have time travellers walking amongst us: as tourists. They could show up, go observe a Superbowl or have a drink in a bar that's not there anymore in their time, and then go back home. One of the first things they'd have to agree upon is never telling anybody, and making no actions that would dramatically change history in any noticable way.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:40 PM on June 25, 2001


What's the rationale behind the "can't travel back to before the time machine was invented" theory? Is there any, or is it just "hey, this is a simple way to explain away the fact that we haven't seen any time travelers"?
posted by zztzed at 9:00 PM on June 25, 2001


Oh, that Elmo burns my ass up with the crazy rage!
Erg! (punches hole in dry wall) Aggh! Take that, bitch!
Arrrg! (punches dent in refrigerator) Yeah! Here's one for your old man! (punches mirror into shards) Yeah! Die, bitch, DIE! (punches formica kitchen cabinet door clean off)
Arrrg!

.... I'm bleeding...Oh, that felt good......

What's this time traveler nonsense, now?
posted by dong_resin at 10:50 PM on June 25, 2001


What's the rationale behind the "can't travel back to before the time machine was invented" theory?

What exactly would be moving you through time, if you tried to go to a time in which the time machine did not exist?
posted by kindall at 12:18 AM on June 26, 2001


"What exactly would be moving you through time, if you tried to go to a time in which the time machine did not exist?"

That line of thought defies the whole concept of time travel. How can you travel back to a time before you were born if you weren't there? It's like saying, "If God meant for us to fly he would have given us wings.

Theoretically the time machine would be able to generate some sort of field which places itself and anything or anyone inside the field outside normal time, and therefore be able to travel to any particular period of the past or future. Hence the name "Time Machine." Otherwise it wouldn't be much of a Time Machine, eh?

You're trying to bring logic into this and that's just ruining the fun. =P
posted by ZachsMind at 3:59 AM on June 26, 2001


I guess what I'm trying to say is that if man is to discover time travel in the future, then we would have had a visitor a long time ago. Am I making any sense here?

Perhaps time machines will require a massive amount of energy to use which increases in proportion with the time traveled.

There may not be enough energy to travel back to this time. Especially if you live in California.
posted by DBAPaul at 6:29 AM on June 26, 2001


How would you know a time traveler if you saw one?
posted by dong_resin at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2001


Time travelers wear funny clothes and get into all kinds of zany fish-out-of-water situations which are resolved in a half hour.
posted by whuppy at 8:10 AM on June 26, 2001


Theoretically the time machine would be able to generate some sort of field which places itself and anything or anyone inside the field outside normal time, and therefore be able to travel to any particular period of the past or future.

You'd need an odd sort of extension cord to power such a time machine, I think.
posted by kindall at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2001


It's simple. People see time machines all the time. We call them "UFOs". Them cute little Greys aren't aliens at all -- you really think aliens would look so humanoid? Those, my friend, are our distant descendants. Easy.
posted by webmutant at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2001


Um, so maybe we can debate whether or not time travel is possible, but it is worth mentioning that it isn't possible to kill a cloth puppet, even one as annoying as Elmo.

Unless, of course, Kino is trying to tell us something very disturbing about the future.
posted by briank at 10:58 AM on June 26, 2001


What's the rationale behind the "can't travel back to before the time machine was invented" theory?

It's just that the only method of travelling in time that physicists think might be possible involves creating a kind of tunnel. You need an opening at both ends, so you can't travel back in time unless there's another opening at the time you want to travel to.

So if you create a wormhole in 2001 then in 2004 you can go into the wormhole and come out in 2001.
posted by straight at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2001


I guess what I'm trying to say is that if man is to discover time travel in the future, then we would have had a visitor a long time ago. Am I making any sense here?

I read a theory several years ago that said any changes made in the past by a time traveller would split our universe into two parallel worlds -- one with the past changed, the other unchanged.

Since suddenly appearing in the past from the future would itself alter the past, the mere act of time travelling would split the universe the instant the traveller arrived.

So, you see, there may be plenty of time travel going on... we're just stuck in the universe that doesn't get any of it.
posted by Dirjy at 6:14 PM on June 26, 2001


Perhaps the
Metafilter Hosting 123 caper
was the result of time travel gone awry; the universe incompletely split??
posted by ParisParamus at 6:43 PM on June 26, 2001


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