As a continuation from my last blog post, let’s assume the brilliant minds at NASA, Area 51, or some other juggernaut have perfected the science of time travel. No longer hampered by loss of life or limbs due to gravitational forces, black holes, white holes, or exotic matter, we are seated within our indestructible time machine, shiny blinking buttons and sparkly levers begging to be pushed and pulled. Let’s say we travel back in time. An irresistible urge to see Great Grandpa’s youthful brown locks compels us. The coordinates are fixed, and we blink out of 2018 and reappear in 1940 faster than you can say “GO!”
We step out of our smoking, physics-defying vessel, dressed in period clothing of course, and cover the machine with leaves, an invisible tarp, or maybe we’ve got a cloaking device. Regardless, we somehow avoid prying eyes and blend into the crowd. The time has come. The moment of truth. In the next minute, our Great Grandpa will round the corner, and we’ll walk up, stick out our hand and — WAIT! Back up.
What are the consequences? Thus enters the concept of time paradox! Multiple scientists have theorized on this topic and the others mentioned, and Hollywood has explored them in TV shows like The Flash, Timeless, and the movie Back to the Future. Someone time travels but small interactions disrupt the timeline and the future changes. For instance, by traveling back, our Great Grandpa marries someone else, and we’re never born. Some call this the Grandfather Paradox. Are we willing to risk our life just to meet our relative?
Okay, so maybe we just travel back to sneak a peek. We don’t interact with him. We’re a silent observer. What could go wrong? Except perhaps our very existence in the past triggers other events that alter someone elses life. What if we take a seat where someone else should have sat, and then they miss that chance encounter with a future love or business partner? Even something as simple as a “hello” has consequences, good or bad.
On a slightly different slant, let’s consider traveling back to prevent a murder. What if we stopped Abraham Lincoln’s assassination? The possibility exists that reconstruction and reconciliation might have gone better. Lincoln had been a champion of infrastructure. Roads, railroads, and bridges could have been rebuilt and strengthened. He had signed into law land grants for colleges, perhaps paving the way for free higher education. Goodbye student loans! And with Lincoln’s finesse and disposition, maybe the 1960’s civil rights movement would have been unnecessary. Martin Luther King Jr. would never have been assassinated either. Of course, Lincoln would have been impeached, but the alternatives are there.
Another idea springs to mind: alternate universes. And this is one of my favorites. For each decision we make, an alternate universe, or reality, is born. So, if we time travel and save Lincoln, the one where he dies still exists. When we mess with time, we create parallel universes. In some, our choices are similar and are “closer” together (the parallel worlds that is). All possibilities would occur in alternate realities. Those that are similar are closer in the space-time continuum, and divergent choices would create universes farther away, but these parallel realities would connect via wormholes. Imagine if this were true. Now imagine time traveling, interrupting the time-line. Could we ever get back to our initial universe?
So much to think about with time travel. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you time travel? What about the consequences? What do you think about wormholes and parallel universes? Please comment below, and whatever you do keep on dreaming!