On the careful budgeting of time


ImageTime travel has been an area of interest ever since H.G. Wells published “The Time Machine” in 1895. Only ten years later, Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity actually answered part of the question whether time travel would be possible.  However, it was only in  science fiction genre that it became a popular subject, until 1985 when astronomer Carl Sagan was writing his sci-fi book, “Contact”.  He wanted to get the science right so he enlisted the aid of  a theoretical physicist, which gave the subject of time travel a boost in the scientific community (forbes.com, 2008).

Realistically, the science and therefore, the means are not there yet.  But what if it were possible to travel back and forth through time, without creating deleterious affects to  myself or others?  What would I  do with  a free ticket for one trip:  any “where”, any “time?”   I have been thinking along those lines for days. This is a profoundly difficult decision.  Do I want to go back in time to see an historical event, person or place?  Perhaps travel back to 1492 and see Columbus discover America?   Visit with him; have a little chat, nosh a bit and try to explain how an Anglo  woman, with a lousy Spanish accent happened to be in the New World  he had only just discovered.
Maybe I could  jump ahead to an unknown future, wearing politically incorrect clothing; unable to speak Esperanto and searching aimlessly for an ATM?  There always is the possibility that the earth will be a cinder ball and as soon as I arrive I disappear in a puff of smoke.  No, too many unknowns.  I would have to have certain “arrangements” made to protect myself from some disastrous global event.  Now, if the time machine is actually a space ship, then that’s a whole new ball game.  But, then I would have to deal with  time dilation and all that goes with it.  I really don’t want to come back to find all my friends capute. This is a round-trip ticket, right?

Clearly, trip planning would be necessary.  I will assume that a time travel agency exists which will prepare me for any contingencies.  Although, the further you go in the future, the more untenable planning becomes.  So, it looks like pastward  time travel is the only suitable option for me.  Needless to say, the most predictable travel would be in historical times. What about prehistoric times?Prehistoric times such as the Stone Age could be dangerous, what with primitive hominids and mastodons running about.  If I go back even earlier, say, about 65 million years ago, I might be able to catch the dinosaurs’  final curtain call.  However, it’s not as if they all died out in one or two days.  But, I might be able to see if the extinction event was precipitated by an environmental upheaval by a comet, or thousands of volcanoes, or some other time traveler who accidentally set fire to the planet while he was smoking stegosaurus meat for our future civilization’s first dinosaur jerky.

I’ve thought about biblical times.  I wouldn’t mind running into Moses around the time of the Exodus.   I really would like to see him part the Red Sea (or not).  However, anyone other than Charleton Heston in the role of Moses would be a disappointment.  The time period of the events involving Jesus would be very interesting, but if I’m going to be in Israel it will be in a luxury resort on the Dead Sea.  I have considered the time periods from da Vinci to Winston Churchill but nothing interests me enough, except for the Victorian Era, when I would summer in Egypt with the British and other Europeans and the Valley of the Kings is still a wonderfully active archaeological site.  When the Aswan High Dam has yet to be built to flood priceless sites and Carter has not yet discovered  King Tutankhamen’s tomb— otherwise occupying his career as inspector of antiquities for Lower Egypt.  Howard Carter handled the whole King Tut event rather poorly so I would like to “discover” the tomb.
Would the hijacking of such an historic venture rip a hole in the fabric of space?   I’ve done a bit of research to see if changing a minor event in history would cause any serious damage to the space-time continuum.  No one knows for sure.  Oh, there are plenty of hypotheses but no one knows what the “fabric” of space actually is.  Theoretically, a hole in the fabric would be a black hole and I’m assuming it would consume Egypt.  However, that would only happen if space-time, or the universe itself is deterministic.  In simpler terms, rip out a stitch and the whole fabric begins to unravel.  Such is the “Grandfather” analogy:  go back in time and kill your grandfather, then you would never be born.  Obviously this is flawed.  If you were never born, then how could you go back and kill your grandfather?
I’ve decided to go for it:  some time in the 1880’s, after the Anglo-Egypt War and the Siege of Khartoum.  I could rationalize that if space-time is deterministic then, somehow, I would be prevented from damaging the universe– I would not be able to “discover” the tomb.  I would be at the mercy of  Cosmic Censorship (Penrose-Hawking hypothesis).   The adage, “a stitch in time saves nine” takes on a whole new meaning.
DPchallenge:  Time machine

When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

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Posted in DPchallenge, fiction, humor, Time, writing
2 comments on “On the careful budgeting of time
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April 2014
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