Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Working our way backwards through time

Will Google glasses one day allow us to relive past moments? Walk down a street, click (blink) on a date and observe all that happened at that point in time and space? Is this really that far fetched? And if we can go that far, why not a time machine that allows us to become active participants in past events? Yes, I am aware of the argument of logistics. If we can go back in the past and change something, then the present will change also. But if so, then it must have already happened. It must have already happened.

But what if logistics is simply our excuse for not being able to break out of the confines of our present level of comprehension. Logistics once seemingly proved that the world was flat. And there was a time when no one would have even conceived of the possibility of the light bulb, let alone the computer. Each generation appeared to entertain the smug belief that the greatest possible enlightenment had already been achieved.

Inventions reached their limit long ago, and I see no hope for further development. ~ Julius Frontinus, 1st century A.D.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. ~ Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899,

Is time travel another electric light bulb waiting to happen?

Let's borrow from the world of computers in order to offer one possible theory of time travel. Computer systems have a backup utility which allows us to go back and restore our system from a restore point in the past. This is particularly useful when something corrupts the present and we prefer to return to an earlier point and start over, erasing everything from that point on, as if it had never happened. Apple even calls their MAC backup utility - the Time Machine.

Tempting, eh? Start over again from an earlier point in our lives.

I suggest something similar in time travel, but with a significant twist. The restore point is only created when a time traveler goes back to a specific point in the past and does something that will change that world in some way.

"You are about to change this world. Click save to accept, or cancel to cancel. Warning: this change is irreversible and you will lose all future data."

But wait! Before you go back and present your old self with Sports Almanac so as to become rich through gambling - as Biff did in Back to the Future - you must realize that any change that you inflict will not affect the world that you go back to. Rather, you will have created a parallel world with a different future from that point on. Would there be any point, then, in making a variant of yourself rich in another world? A world whose future you cannot witness? Or would this be similar to wanting to leave a legacy for your children? You will not witness the effect of your legacy after you are dead, either.

Now some of you may claim that the universe cannot house an infinite number of parallel worlds. Yet you don't appear to have a problem with the millions of new souls that are born into the universe every day - each new soul with a new consciousness, sending bouncing thought waves everywhere. Others among you may worry about the ever-increasing possibility of meeting yourselves coming and going. It may just take one errant wormhole and there you are, standing in front of  yourself face to face. Do you recognize your other? Is this a meeting of matter and anti-matter, which will perhaps cause the universe to explode, or implode?

I can see some of you looking for the price tag. Sounds promising, but what is the cost? The going price of a ticket for space travel is $250,000. Can we expect time travel to be in the same ball park?

Word on the street has it that not only does such a machine exist, but that it is in the hands of Google. And word on a Tel Aviv street corner will tell you that it was originally an Israeli startup. The last thing I heard is that Google is looking for beta testers. Any takers? Here is your chance to try out time travel for no cost. You may disappear into a black hole somewhere, but hey, we'd still be back contemplating the wheel if we weren't ready to take chances. Will Google be willing to add this to the Google+ profile, depending on advertising alone for monetary benefit? Will this be the straw that breaks Facebook's back? How long will it take Microsoft to clone the invention, somehow side stepping patent law?

What good is it then, if we can't go back and help avert calamities and foolish decisions, both for the benefit of mankind and the benefit of ourselves? Maybe it is time for us to simply accept the past as something that can't be changed, at least not in this world. At the most, we can try to understand it better, and through this understanding make the world a better place. The best place is to start with ourselves. Too many of us keep repeating the same mistakes.

So, if you were offered the opportunity to go back in a time machine, what part of your past life would you choose to visit - for whatever reason?

Oh, I forgot to tell you. You can only go back as an active participant to some point in your past life. You can't interactively visit someone else's life, or interactively visit a point in the past before you were born. However, you can go back as observer only, to any point in the past. This is definitely one up on reality shows and will definitely change our conception of history. They say that history is written by the victors, but here we have our own direct line to the past.

If I were to go back in the past, I'd choose the sixties. Why? That will have to wait for another blog posting. Right now the ink in my pen is running dry, and the more that I write - the greater the chance that I will meet myself coming and going.


  1. I met a man who thought himself to be Jules Verne. This meeting was not easy to arrange because the author died a few months before my father was born. From my viewpoint, the meeting was very unsatisfactory because Verne adamantly refused to talk about any of his books that I had read. When I told a friend about this, my friend said the explanation was obvious. Verne was time-travelling and I met him before he had written any of the books I had read.

    1. That is an interesting point, Izzy. In this case, you are a part of somebody else's future. I haven't even touched upon what it might mean if restore points were created in the future.

  2. Certainly a lot to contemplate here.
    But you can't be an active participant in your own life without being active in other lives as well. Anything we do affects others, positively or negatively, whether we or they are aware of it or not.

    1. I agree with you Kara. My point was that you can only go back to a point in the past and take an active part, if that point was an immediate part of your own individual history.

  3. I would just be happy with a "rewind" button... or even a "pause" button..... for all those "oops" moments..... of which there have been far too many......

  4. Will wait patiently to read why you chose the sixties. I'll see if any of my guesses were correct!