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Temporal Anomalies

Main Page
Discussing Time Travel Theory
Other Films
Perpetual Barbecue
About the Author
Contact the Author

See also entries under the
Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel
category of the
mark Joseph "young"
web log
elsewhere on this site.

Quick Jumps

Star Trek Generations
Fixed Time in Terminator
The Theory

Not Letters

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  First Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Second Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Third Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Fourth Response

Vazor's Time Travel Questions:
  First Response


Doctor TOC, 12 Monkeys Fixed Timeline
Doctor TOC, Woman on Plane
JKrapf007, Evil Dead 2 Not a Remake
Nathro, Evil Dead 2 a Sequel
JKrapf007, Travel Before Your Birth
Nathro, More About Evil Dead
Sauce96, Terminator and Star Trek
Sauce96, Presenting an Original Story
Sauce96, Defending Paradox
Muhammed, A Line from 12 Monkeys
Holger Thiemann, 12 Monkeys Fixed Time
Chad Hadsell, Local Infinity Loops
Chad Hadsell, Time an Abstraction
Holger Thiemann, Testing the Theory
Chad Hadsell, Travel to the Future
Chad Hadsell, Erasing Future Self
Holger Thiemann, Temporal Duplicates
Gecko, 12 Monkeys Analysis Incorrect
Jason Seiler, 12 Monkeys Static Time
Jason Seiler, Metaphysics Class Links
Etienne Rouette, Woman on Plane
Matthew Potts, Woman on Plane
Bart, Parallel Universe Theory
Bart, Clarification
Illumin8, Spreadsheets

Movies Analyzed
in order examined

    Addendum to Terminator
    Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines
    Terminator Recap
    Terminator Salvation
    Terminator Genisys
    Terminator:  Dark Fate
Back To The Future
Back To The Future II
Back To The Future III
Star Trek Introduction
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    Star Trek: Generations
    Star Trek: First Contact
    Star Trek (2009)
12 Monkeys
    Addendum to 12 Monkeys
Flight Of The Navigator
  Flight Of The Navigator Addendum
Army of Darkness
Lost In Space
Peggy Sue Got Married
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Planet of the Apes
Kate and Leopold
Somewhere In Time
The Time Machine
Minority Report
Happy Accidents
The Final Countdown
Donnie Darko
  S. Darko
Harry Potter and
    the Prisoner of Azkaban

Deja Vu
    Primer Questions
Bender's Big Score
Popular Christmas Movies
The Butterfly Effect
  The Butterfly Effect 2
  The Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations
The Last Mimzy
The Lake House
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Hot Tub Time Machine
Los Cronocrimines a.k.a. TimeCrimes
A Sound of Thundrer
Frequently Asked Questions
    About Time Travel

Source Code
Blackadder Back & Forth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
11 Minutes Ago
Men in Black III
La Jetée
Midnight in Paris
Meet the Robinsons
H. G. Wells' The Time Machine
The Jacket
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Experiment
    The Philadelphia Experiment II
Time After Time
About Time
Free Birds
X-Men:  Days of Future Past
Edge of Tomorrow
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Project Almanac
Time Lapse
O Homem Do Futuro
    a.k.a. The Man from the Future

Abby Sen
When We First Met
See You Yesterday
The History of Time Travel
Copyright Information

The temporal anomaly terminology used here is drawn from Appendix 11:  Temporal Anomalies of Multiverser from Valdron Inc, and is illustrated on the home page of this web site.  This site is part of M. J. Young Net.

Books by the Author.

The Book

Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies
A Letter from Sauce96:
About Terminator and Star Trek

Justin Krapf mentioned that his brother might write; and sure enough, here's his letter.


Date:  Mon, 25 May 1998 12:45:16 EDT
From:  Sauce96



I finally had a chance to visit you page and I liked reading what you wrote about the various time-travel aspects of all those movies.  Sometimes I felt myself questioning what you were saying, but then I thought twice and told myself 'Well, it IS possible...

Like in the Terminator series... Here is a scenario which I remember you have written...

You mentioned that in the original time-line, Skynet was constructed by another company other than Cyberdyne (TimeLine A), let's say in 2010.  Then there's the war, the resistence, and the first Terminator is sent back to kill the mother of the soon-to-be rebel leader.  Of course, the Terminator's existence here alters time, creating a Time-Line B.  His arm and other pieces of the Terminator are taken to Cyberdyne where they are studied and hence, Miles Dyson creates Skynet from the technology from these pieces, only at an earlier time, say 1997 (as said in the movie).  Skynet becomes self-aware, the war starts, and everything repeats.

Okay, it all makes sense and IS possible, but highly unlikely that 'another company' created Skynet in Time-Line A.  I believe that this is a classic 'time loop', and the way James Cameron wrote the script, Cyberdyne did create Skynet in the original time-line, using pieces from the Terminator from the future.  You see, it depends on the author's particular views on time-travel how the write the script.  In Cameron's view, the time-loop was always there, just like how Kyle Reese was sent back by 40-yearold John protect his mother, who gets her pregnant and in turn, young John is born.  It's a time-loop which has no beginning or end; it just is.

Also, when the second Arnold came back in time, he explained to Sarah and John that indeed, it was Dyson and Cyberdyne who created Skynet in his past (their 'future').

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Star Trek Generations

Moving on, I agree with what you said on Star Trek:  Generations.  The time-travel there was extremely poor, and I don't know what they were thinking.  Picard and Soran are on the mountain, let's say, at noon.  They both enter the nexus.  The nexus allows Picard to go anywhere anytime, so he goes back to the mountain at like 11:30 with Kirk.  Hence, there should be two Picards here, but I guess they just forgot about this or figured the viewing audience wouldn't be intellegent enough to realize it, and would be dumbfoundedly questioning 'Why are there 2 picards?'

Anyway, check this: Soran realizes that Picard has arrived with Kirk, who was in the nexus.  Therefore, Picard must've been in the nexus.  Therefor, Soran's probe must've launched successfully, sweeping he and Picard into the nexus allowing him to get Kirk.  So Picard, kirk, and Soran were all in the nexus, and then Kirk and Picard exited to go back and stop Soran from lauching the probe.  But they can't, 'cause if they stop Soran's probe, they'll never get into the nexus, and Picard can never get kirk to help him stop the probe, so the probe is launched, and the next sweeps them up, and Picard gets Kirk, and it goes on and on.

But of course, the writers forget about this.  Anyway, after the movie is over, there still should be a Kirk, Picard, and Soran in the nexus.  At LEAST a Soran.  It could be argued that Picard and kirk LEFT the nexus (however, preventing the probe would be preventing their entry into the nexus, which would prevent their escape from the nexus.....blah blah blah).  However, there still is a Soran in the nexus.  He never left.

Remember when Picard was in the nexus and was having Christmas with his family?  Soran was also in the nexus at that time, doing his thing.  And he could've very well used the nexus to go back and stop Picard from even getting to Veridian 3.

Anyway MJ, I too analyse time-travel movies and stories and enjoy the concept of it.  I write about it frequently in my stories, pondering the countless scenarios of the results of time-travel.  paradoxes, time-loops, and all that cool stuff.

I have a lot more to talk to you about, but I don't want ot make this letter longer than it already is, so I'll write to you again as soon as I get a reply from you from this one, okay?

Talk to ya soon.


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Fixed Time in Terminator


Thanks for your note.  Don't worry--I appreciate the opportunity to confront these issues, and will be glad to hear your ideas.

I realize that many writers take the view that time is fixed, and that time loops are intrinsically woven into them.  I don't.  I find that concept much too deterministic for human purposes; it's the kind of thing that can only happen if the author of the story knows the end from the beginning--or more than that, has decided how the story ends before it starts.  It requires a God who is so much more potent in terms of his level of interference than the one in whom I believe--and I have a strong Calvinist strain in my theology as it is, so I believe that God interferes.  But more than that, I believe that the fixed time concept is unnecessary:  time travel anomalies and paradoxes can be explained in a manner which preserves the free will of man, and in which all actions a man can do are possible.

  You mention that John Conner sends Kyle Reese back to become his father, and suggest that that is part of the time loop included in all of time.  But that's exactly the kind of paradox that causes many to say that time travel must be intrinsically impossible--and I would be the last to say that there is anything we will never be able to do.  In this paradox, John Conner cannot be born unless he is born.  We experience time in a linear manner--events follow each other in sequence--but that is more than merely our experience:  it is part of the nature of time itself.  If John Conner cannot be born unless as an adult he causes his own birth, then he cannot be born, he will never be born, and the entire story is an absurd fantasy.  You might just as well suggest that John Conner having been born could come back in time and kill his mother before he was conceived!

  Yet if anyone can come back in time at all, and if man has the ability to control his actions, then John Conner could send Kyle Reese back, and Reese could fall in love with Sarah Conner and could ultimately become the father of John Conner--and just as surely John Conner could come back in time and prevent his own birth.  Your theory--and the theory you attribute to Cameron--collapses under the weight of these paradoxes.

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The Theory

What I have done is create a new theory of time travel--not a way to do it, which is far beyond our present conceptions of science, but a way to understand the consequences.  I maintain that whenever anyone for any reason moves backward in time, he ends the sequence of time from which he has departed, and creates a new alternate timeline.  This may bear a bit of explanation.

If I appear in the past, the past is changed.  It doesn't matter that I have not changed any historic events which we regard as "significant".  I may have been seen, leaving memories of my presence which were not there.  I have breathed, sweated, moved, changed the inertial and gravitic energies around me--all minor things, certainly, but real changes in the past.  History is different in ways unknown and unmeasured by us.  And since the past has changed, the future for which that was the past is now erased.  Everyone forgets it, except for the person who has left that future and entered the past.  Time does not continue beyond that moment.

There was an episode of Quantum Leap which drove this home.  Sam was with a young woman as her husband on her honeymoon while she was cramming for her bar exam.  Al was attending Senate hearings related to funding for the project, facing a Senator who wanted proof that the project could do anything worthwhile.  Efforts to get Sam to scuttle the Bay of Pigs fiasco failed; but he did manage to catch a mistake the young bride had made in understanding a critical case.  The result of this was that she passed her bar exam, eventually ran for her father's seat in the Senate, and became chairman of that committee.  In the midst of the meeting, the chairman of the committee vanished, replaced by the now middle-aged woman who was the chairman in the altered history.  That is very much how time changes:  the other history is forgotten, replaced by the altered history, and the future continues from that altered history only.

But in order for that to happen, time must repeat itself.  Remember, when in Back to the Future Marty McFly goes from 1985 to 1955, he changes time.  When he returns to 1985, he finds that his father is a famous author, and his family lives at a slightly higher economic and social level.  But for his parents and siblings and girlfriend, and everyone else in that world, all of the events between that 1955 and that 1985 happened.  Therefore time must have gone back to 1955 and moved forward through all of those events to reach 1985.

And once we reach 1985--or whatever point in time from which our time traveler left--we have to determine whether the new time line supports itself.  That is, if events are such that the same person will make the same trip back in time and cause the same events, then history is stabilized and the future continues; however, if for any reason this is not so, the time line must repeat again--and again, and again, and again, as many times as it takes--until it does stabilize.  And some timelines can't stabilize, because the traveler from the future has altered the past in such a way that he cannot do so on the next time line.  There are several examples of this on the pages--but the one in Generations is such a blunder, as Picard has prevented himself from making the time trip which is necessary for him to succeed.

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I realize that it is possible for Cyberdyne to have developed Skynet originally.  It was not possible for them to have done so based on the pieces of the terminator found in their factory, because those pieces have to have been invented originally by someone.  It is unlikely therefore that Cyberdyne created the original Skynet--they don't appear to have been in that line of business prior to finding the parts, therefore it is more likely that someone else was doing the research which led to the development of Skynet in the first place.

And the way James Cameron wrote the script, we never see the original timeline of anything--we only see the timelines in which people from the future have come to the past.  In fact, off the top of my head I'd say we usually see the last time line.  Thus anything we know about what happened is only what happened after the time line was corrupted by someone from the future coming into the past.  So we can't really know from Cameron's script who invented the thing in the original timeline, because no one in the story has that information.  Note that when Arnold comes back the second time, he has already been back the first time, already changed all of history and given Cyberdyne the technology to build Skynet on his first trip.  For him, as for Sarah, that visit is the only history of which he is aware; but it is not the original history, because he destroyed that original history in his first trip to the past.

Anyway, the theories most people are bantering around about time travel leave many impossibilities.  My approach makes these things possible--and I think that a theory which preserves the freedom of men to do what they seem able to choose to do should be preferred over one which prevents them from having such choices and such freedom.  Until I see a theory in which all of these paradoxes, anomalies, and impossibilities are explained at least as well as they are by my theory, I'll stick with mine.

Of course the StarTrek Generations film was created primarily to bring Kirk and Picard into the same story, so they could pass the torch and try to get the old hard-line original series fans hooked into the new crew.  It's a bad bet anyway--those fans will never accept that anyone could replace Kirk, least of all Picard.  It doesn't matter that Kirk is an unlikely choice for captain of a star ship, and probably would have been court-martialed for some of those stunts, or that Picard is much more what we would expect of a career officer in an organized fleet.  (Don't get me wrong--the original crew was wonderful; they were just improbable.)  Time travel was a trick to get the two together.  It was mostly schlock, thrown together to sell tickets.  I'm glad the work they did on First Contact was better; another film like Generations could have finished them.

I look forward to hearing from you on these or the other films.  It's just possible that you've got such a theory tucked away somewhere, and may be able to force me to reconsider mine--but even if not, anyone who's giving thought to the effects of time travel is going to find the holes for me to patch.

Thanks for your note.

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