August 3, 2002 -
April 9, 2002 12:04 PM   Subscribe

August 3, 2002 - Time travel becomes a reality. Or not. Still, some people are concerned about it.
posted by mr_crash_davis (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's pretty harebrained*, I love it!
* Harebrained vs. Hairbrained
posted by riffola at 12:18 PM on April 9, 2002

If there were any indication that this guy is even hinting about wanting to raise a little money from this, to, say, pay for the tattoo or the psychic trauma of meeting his future self, I'd lump him in the same box with the guy who was going to chop off his own feet. That never happened either, as I recall. As it is, I just think he's not likely to be around the ESB on August 3.
posted by yhbc at 12:19 PM on April 9, 2002

All I have to say is that I was in front of the Empire State Building on August 3, 2002 at 4:00 p.m., and he wasn't.
posted by briank at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2002

In front of the Empire State Building? Aren't you supposed to meet on top?
posted by muckster at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2002

be a great prank to get a bunch of elderly men to draw similar tattoos on their arms and show up that day.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2002

Why didn't he choose April 10, 2002. Now I have to wait all stinkin' summer.
posted by bunktone at 12:23 PM on April 9, 2002

th3ph17 wins.
posted by joemaller at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2002

Hah. I should point that guy to the guy who sent me this email. (sorry for the self-link. If there was a non-self-link way to link an email, I'd've done it.)
posted by kfury at 12:38 PM on April 9, 2002

Eerie: I had a drunken conversation last night with a guy who thinks he has proof that humanity is doomed and will destroy the planet. His argument went like this:

a) Time Travel is theoretically possible.
b) No time travellers from the future have arrived in the present.
Ergo c) We never get around to figuring out time travel because we're going down in a flaming nuclear holocaust. Any day now. Possibly even before August 3.
posted by muckster at 12:42 PM on April 9, 2002

That email is pretty funny, by the way self links are allowed in comments, as long as you mention that it is a self link.
posted by riffola at 12:44 PM on April 9, 2002

Thanks. I would've replied, if not for the evil alien clause at the end...
posted by kfury at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2002

Time travel. Heh. If I could remeber how I got here, I could probably get out of this backwards, albeit quaint, little century.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:51 PM on April 9, 2002

There's one theory that time travel might be possible only to a past where time travel was already possible (they'd have the proper arrival device).

Otherwise, I tend toward muckster's option C.
posted by HTuttle at 12:55 PM on April 9, 2002

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity can be used to prove that forward time travel is possible. Check out Nova's time travel pages
posted by evanizer at 1:10 PM on April 9, 2002

*steps on butterfly*
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2002

kfury, apparently your time traveler has been caught in limbo for quite a while now.
posted by yhbc at 1:21 PM on April 9, 2002

*kills Kaf's great-grandfather*

*reads own family tree, notices branch of the family much given to clam-flavored beverages*

posted by gleuschk at 1:23 PM on April 9, 2002

If you proscribe to the theory of infinite worlds in infinite combinations, as do a few physicists (I forget who came up with the idea originally, can anyone help me out?) and myself, then this whole August 3rd, Empire State Building thing is a moot point.

A physicist could give you a far better explanation, but the argument goes something like this:

Each time any subatomic particle in the universe changes spin, changes velocity, change direction, whatever, basically every time their is a quantum fluctuation, a new universe is created. This new universe splits off from the one that gave it birth (in which the quantum fluctuation took a different path/form) and they both continue to exist. At each infintessimally small moment in the history of the universe, infinite numbers of new universes/possible universes are thus spawned. Each of them exists simultaneously and no one of these is any more valid than any other.

In this model, traveling through time would just be one more instance of a way to spawn a new reality/dimension/universe/whatever. Thus, going forward or backward in time any number of times becomes irrelevant, as only the person doing the time traveling will ever notice (aside from the obvious popping out of thin air in front of the Empire State Building phenomenon)
posted by rbellon at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2002

Homer: Aah! OK, don't panic -- remember the advice your father gave you on your wedding day. [remembers Abe with hair and a tuxedo]
Abe: If you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine.

let's hope this guy doesn't step on anything
posted by rorycberger at 1:58 PM on April 9, 2002

huh. Speaking of "Sound of Thunder": interesting.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:16 PM on April 9, 2002

I will be able to say WITH 100% CERTAINTY that I will NEVER EVER have access to time travel in my lifetime.

What if his future self decides it was a stupid idea now that he's living in another solar system and decides it's not worth the hastle. I bet he didn't think of that.
posted by jaden at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2002

i just thought of another prank...have a dirty old man attack the guy and tell him to Run! Run! Today ruins our life! Run! Go back to college! Become a social worker! Stop Touching yourself! Run! I can hear Them!

People in star trek costumes run around the corner...shouting...

lucky thing for him i live in california...any performance artists in the NYC area willing to show up on that date with a secret film crew?

[sound of thunder is a masterpiece. i hope they don't butcher it.]
posted by th3ph17 at 2:34 PM on April 9, 2002

Please, you must all stop now - the events sparked by the last post in this thread are catastrophic.
posted by Spoon at 2:53 PM on April 9, 2002

Well, that's it, then. I must go and kill Spoon now.

posted by yhbc at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2002

rbellon: Everett & Deutsch are the two big names in the Many Worlds Theory of Quantum Mechanics. Here is an interesting link that describes how splits into multiple universes occur (scroll up and down for more interesing info).

It seems, from what I understand, that even with the Many Worlds theory we still can't escape what Hawking referred to as "the arrow of time," or the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Any state of order tends to move toward disorder (a lousy summation, but you get my point). Essentially what this means is that the universe can be viewed like the trunk of a tree with branches growing off it. The branches would be the multiple (or parallel) universes created by phenomena such as time travel, quantum disturbances and the like. However, the branches point in one direction only, what we would consider to be the future (due to 2nd Law).

There's a "Star Trek: Voyager" episode called Deadlock that deals with the duplication of of the entire ship and crew. An interesting examination of the Many Worlds theory.
posted by gutenberg at 3:11 PM on April 9, 2002

What if the tattoo says 8-3-2002 but he loses the arm in a freak car accident (like the def leppard guy) and remembers the date as 3-8-2002 instead? He may have already showed up and we missed him!
posted by plaino at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2002

This is truly a disturbing universe.
posted by kfury at 3:53 PM on April 9, 2002

I'd much rather go back to November, 1955. But I wouldn't want Lea Thompson as a girlfriend (or a mother, for that matter).
posted by davidmsc at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2002

If anybody has a Dalek leave it outside the Empire State 3rd of August.
posted by jackspot at 4:50 PM on April 9, 2002

I Go Back To May 1937.
posted by bingo at 4:51 PM on April 9, 2002

Time travel is not possible. Its self-referential. Time is an illusion. I think.
posted by stbalbach at 5:10 PM on April 9, 2002

what if rigby wrote that in 2003 sometime and came back to tell us all? *humor me*
posted by Kafei at 6:06 PM on April 9, 2002

i vote for the "dressing up in star trek outfits" idea...

but then again, i always vote that one.

::speeds away in dolorean::
posted by lotsofno at 8:16 PM on April 9, 2002

yeah, I vote performance art, too. Seems pretty ridiculous for this guy to think that if (this kind of) time travel is possible and safe, that no one would ever have traveled to any time before 2002 - like he's the first to think of doing it.

It's hard to imagine how we could go backwards in time, and even the forward thing is a little weak: we can theoretically make time go forward at different speeds, so that our personal experiences of time are out of sync, but our personal experience of time is still the same, so I dunno if that really is time travel...

by the by, there was an interesting thread not so long ago on time travel anomalies.
posted by mdn at 9:05 PM on April 9, 2002

Time is an illusion. I think.

It's not an illusion, it's a magazine.
posted by mikhail at 9:37 PM on April 9, 2002

Woo! What a trip! Glad to be back - did I miss anything?
posted by yhbc at 1:03 PM PST on August 3

Oh, like you didn't think of trying it.
posted by yhbc at 9:54 PM on April 9, 2002

Why we havent seen time travelers:

- We have seen them. But they arrive naked and unseen. We tend to put them into mental institutions. There was an interesting thread a while back asking if you were thrown back, naked, about 2,000 years, how could you prove you were from the future?

- (related to above). You can only time-travel in one direction. There is no "machine" you take with you. So, if you decide to time travel, you have to choose carefully. Maybe there are other, much more "interesting" times in the future (our future) that everyone wants to time travel back to?

- Many worlds. When you time-travel and appear into the past, a new universe must be created in order to "accomodate" you, who was not there in the original universe. This is not a good enough explanation, though, since we would *still* see time travelers as we become that forked or split-off world.

- What may be happening is that time travel causes a new "fork" to be created that then decays or disintegrates. (In a sense each time hop spawns a new private universe but a flawed universe.) No problem for the time traveler who merely goes back to his safe universe before the decay. So... we havent seen a time traveler because we live in the most probable world - a non-decayed world. If we ever do see a time-traveler, then its time to worry...

- As mentioned above, time travel may only be possible back to when time travel was first invented.

- Maybe we will never be able to send back in time something as large as human beings. Maybe we can only send back elementary particles or atoms of messages. Perhaps we are being bombarded even now with messages from the future - we just dont know how to read them. Perhaps these particles go both ways, taking information to the future and thus acting as some sort of television set. Perhaps, they can "see" us right now, in the future.
posted by vacapinta at 10:39 PM on April 9, 2002

I say people should just embrace this like the "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" crappy thing. We should really push this guy's idea, get the mainstream media to buy it, then all the tv networks will broadcast the event and we could have this real big party where people strip naked and get drunk and go crazy, but no time travellers actually show up. Or maybe we can make the party SO GREAT, that it will become THE time that any temporal vacationers will want to experience first.

If this guy was serious about it, he wouldn't have made the statement on the Internet. It's a personal, private thing. In fact, NOW he's placed himself in a disturbing place of jeopardy. If he shows up at that place at that time this August, anyone on the Internet who happens to read his plans will potentially show up to gawk or cause havoc, and any future incarnation of him will probably NOT want to be there because it's going to be wholly unsafe. I mean, we're talking New York here.

Ideally if he were actually serious about this, he'd put the tattoo somewhere that isn't easily seen unless he's like naked with a girl or something. He'd make the pact with himself quietly and never tell anybody.

Another logical thing would be for him to spend the rest of his life studying all the sciences that might remotely have anything to do with time travel, and just make it happen. Get to know all the people who are studying temporal quantum theory. Hang with them. Buy them drinks. See if he can get all those people to talk to each other and then get some funding going so he could start a temporal NASA thing: The International Temporal Quantum Association or ITQA! (pronounced EET-ka! With a dumb grin on your face).

That is pretty much how we got on the moon. I know. I read Failure Is Not An Option. I'd think time travel could be accomplished the same way. Get smart people together. Pour money all over them, and then give a deadline of a decade in which they will all be branded idiots if they fail. Works for me.

Someone mentioned the Many Worlds Theory of Quantum Mechanics above. If this guy does access a time machine in his future, and tries to go back in time, there's no certainty he will go back in time to the same reality. It's possible that one cannot travel back in time to his own timeline, but at the point when he attempts to do so, he creates an alternate reality in which he does travel back in time. In fact, it's very plausible that time travel happens all the time, but we just happen to be in one of those universes where time travel never happened. People could be traveling back and forth through time and causing paradoxes and blowing up entire universes all the time, and we're completely oblivious to it.

Personally though I just wish we were in an alternate reality in which Mariah Carey never attempted to be a movie star. She makes people want to claw their eyes out.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:11 PM on April 9, 2002

Yeah Zach but we're luckier than the universe in which Glitter was a sucessful blockbuster.
posted by riffola at 11:20 PM on April 9, 2002

Look at the tattoo on his arm, sheriff: "August 3, 2002. Empire State Building. 4pm". The exact moment the bomb went off! How could he have known? You're under arrest, son!
posted by thijsk at 1:49 AM on April 10, 2002

riffola: Yeah Zach but we're luckier than the universe in which Glitter was a sucessful blockbuster.

Yes, riffola, we call that particular universe "Hell."
posted by davidmsc at 4:52 AM on April 10, 2002

I time travel every time I see a comment that takes up my whole screen. Wham! Right from 11:11 to 11:20 in about 2 seconds!
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:55 AM on April 10, 2002

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