Dammit, Jim!

I'm not a science writer so this may not make any sense at all. But I think it's fun to ponder these little conundrums.

Okay. Time travel. Still impossible. And when you think about it, if it were possible, someone should already have come back from the future by now.

But! I'm reading Chaos and Harmony by Trinh Xuan Thuan, and it's all about the cosmos and Einstein and things of that nature. And he's talking about how time appears to slow down as you near the speed of light. He gives a scenario with Jules and Jim; Jules is piloting a starship at 80% the speed of light and Jim is chillaxin' back on earth. Jim decides, about an hour into Jules' trip, to send him a message using tachyons. (Bear with me; tachyons are theoretical particles that can travel faster than the speed of light)

Okay, here's the conundrum. Once Jim sends the message, Jules receives it a half-hour before Jim has actually sent it. So when he sends the reply message, Jim receives it approximately 52 minutes before he sent his original message.

So I'm thinking....if Jim receives a reply before he even sends a message, thus making sending a message unnecessary, he wouldn't send it, and therefore would not receive a reply in the first place.


It reminds me of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, where they need to leave the keys to the jail cell somewhere so they can retrieve them without having been given them in the first place, so they have to go back in the past and leave them behind a bush. Once Bill and Ted think of this idea, they go behind the bush and - voila! - there the keys are. But then, Bill reminds his friend that they have to remember to actually go back in time and leave the keys.

But what if they forgot? Then the keys would not be there in that moment when they went to go get them. And what if they then committed absolutely to going back in time and leaving the keys? Would they abruptly appear?

Ahhh, such speculation is almost fruitless. But I love it.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


Rebel Mel said...

Oh my. I have both Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey. Such good flicks.

My favorite part is when Socrates introduces himself and Bill says "Let's look him up. It's under So Crates." Funnier watched than read, I suppose.

If I were from the future, and I wanted to time travel, I don't think I would come back to now. Like ever. We're in a recession, kids are damned fools, and the only thing on TV is reality. There are so many other eras I would visit before this one =) And, on another note, if I were to time travel, I am pretty sure I would screw with peoples heads and not let them know I was time traveling. Let them think I was from a parallel universe or something. Or just insane.

Have you ever seen the movie "What the *&(** do we know?" ? It's an interesting one. Check it out.

Don said...



Pete and Repeat were in a boat, if Pete fell out, who was left?

-if answer is Repeat goto Repeat

In computer programming, this is an example of an infinite loop.

You might like "Godel, Esher, Bach: Eternal Golden Braid" It's a book on the theme: strange loopedness. (You can skip the chapters and just read the dialogues.)

-goto Top

Saphron said...

Mel - my favorite part is when Socrates says, 'like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.' I didn't get it at 7 years old, but it's ingenious!

And you know, I think you're on to something...maybe time travelers just don't reveal who they really are. That seems like more fun anyway. :P

Thanks for the movie rec.

Don - I forgot you were a computer guy...I guess what I described was a sort of loop, even if not infinite. It's really fun to keep pondering all the implications and at the same time, realize that this is why God does not allow time travel, LOL.

Thanks for the book rec!