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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

Change and the Original History
Linear but not Temporal
Precognitive Dreams
Nested Universes
Instant Gratification and Choice

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
Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem
Third Response

Chuck Buckley responded to me again, and I contributed a third posting to his sci-fi web site time travel section.  He posted it again, and again responded to it there.

Change and the Original History


  I'm enjoying our discussion, and trust you won't think I'm monopolizing your time with another response; I'll try to keep this one brief, but brevity is not one of my most apparent qualities. 

  It is important that our backwards time traveler assure that he not make "recognizable" changes.  Of course, the only person who would recognize them is the time traveler himself--and even then (as my discussion of Back to the Future Part 1 suggests), the only version of the time traveler who will continue into the future is the one for whom the altered history is the actual history he himself remembers, so no one will know what the original history was unless as part of the trip the time traveler makes a point of reciting the original history even after it is no longer his own past.  But I digress.  What is more important is that we understand that our ability to recognize the change is distinct from whether the change took place.  Consider this.  When the time traveler reaches 1980, he continues to breathe the air and release chemicals into it--at the minimum limits, barring some special protective suit, he is consuming oxygen and releasing oxygen with carbon and hydrogen (fused as water).  Each atom of hydrogen or carbon which he releases into the environment is stolen from the future and released in the past; each has a "temporal duplicate", another identical atom which is the same particle of matter from another point in the time stream.  At least some of the oxygen which he releases in the past is also from the future, existing now in the past as a temporal duplicate of itself; even that which he uses and returns in the past is now linked to atoms from the future, at least temporarily, and so will have a different individual history.  Our traveler will also take some of the oxygen from the past back to the future--we'll say 2000--creating a period of time from 1980 to 2000 during which there is an increased amount of total matter in the world, much of it in the form of increased hydrogen (linked as water) and carbon (linked as carbon dioxide) along with a net increase in the amount of oxygen (linked with those atoms), much of which is temporally duplicated, although some is merely from the present.  There are also certain atoms which have been removed from the time stream entirely.  Once the year 2000 arrives, these changes are reversed, as the excess carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are taken out of the timeline and returned to the past.  I, for one, cannot imagine that the exact same atoms would have found their way into the exact same people, given the changes in the available elements in 1980.  I am forced to ask myself why the history of people should matter more to the time line in terms of pure physics than the history of atoms.  The past has been eternally changed; it may never stabilize--but perhaps, since one atom is much the same as another and those which are not radioactive do not change with age (as far as we have determined), the details of which atoms are moved to the past or brought to the future are not so important as their total mass and nature.  Again, the important point is that we understand that the past is changed by our very presence within it.

  "Is the future of this ever so slightly changed timeline accessible?"  I disagree with your statement that the altered timeline has not yet been established.  Marty McFly's picture changes (although that is an unrealistic plot device) because he has changed the future; yet he is still in the past, so he can attempt to "unchange" it--something he cannot really do, although he can change it again to comport with his expected future.  I've often said that trips into the future are no different than vacations in Boston--you leave for a while, and then you return.  To your mind, no time has passed:  you stepped into the time machine in 1980 and stepped out in 2000.  But to the rest of the world, 20 years have been lived.  There has been ample time for the "new" history to become established.  There is no waiting for the past to change to reflect your changes--it has had the time to do so while you were gone.  You imagine that because for you the time was skipped it must be so for everyone; but those changes are now history, and were lived by those people you left behind, and indeed by "Version-2" of you yourself.  (History will not continue until the memories of the original history are gone, and even you remember only the altered history.)  It is, in fact, the original timeline which is no longer accessible, barring some type of sliding technology.

  Incidentally, even with sliding technology (and assuming that the multiple universe concept is correct), you cannot access the original timeline at any point after the moment you left, because that timeline has terminated.  There would be timelines which contain an almost identical history, but that at the moment at which you remembered going back into the past, that did not happen.  Whether you decided not to do so, or the machine failed to function, or there was a disaster which threw you out of the time stream entirely (or merely killed you), if another world exists with the history you remember, it emphatically does not contain an event in which you went into the past.

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Linear but not Temporal

  I don't know that I have ignored linear thinking.  I still believe quite soundly that cause must precede effect.  What I have done is separate my notion of "before" and "after" from the linear timeline.  A Doctor Who impostor once said, "Having lived in the future, I can't very well die in the past."  But this is patently false--as his hearers recognized.  Why can I not have a linear timeline in which the years run 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 1996b, 1997b, 1998b, 1999b, 2000....Causes in 1999 could have effects in 1996b which they could not have in 1996, because 1996b comes after 1999 experientially--a valid linear timeline which differs from our calendar linear timeline.

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Precognitive Dreams

  Precognitive dreams are still uncertain things.  James "The Amazing" Randi has very intelligently observed that every night all of us have hundreds of dreams, some forgotten forever, some remembered if we are reminded, some remembered vividly, and some recurring.  Dreams appear to be fragments of subconscious bits of information which pass through our memory, and are filtered by our rules of perception of reality just enough to become comprehensible--that is, we may dream that we are flying, but we understand the concept because the images in our minds are best explained if we envision ourselves airborne.  Given this vast amount of mental information, it is extremely unlikely that nothing we ever dreamed would ever resemble anything we encounter in the future--and the fact that our experience with such things often involves "remembering" more details as having been "part of the dream" when the event occurs suggests very strongly that it is our memory which comports to the event, and not the event matching our memory.  However, given the fact that tachyons behave in a manner which under current scientific theory is best explained if we assume them to be moving backward in time (which is not the same thing as what is usually and inaccurately said of them), it is at least plausible that information from the future could reach the present by some means--although it is a far cry from subatomic particles to information in the mind!

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Nested Universes

  The idea of this universe being a fragment of matter in some larger universe has an interesting appeal in fantasy; "Men In Black" ended with a tip of the hat to that notion, as the entire universe was a marble in a huge game of marbles.  But if you ask yourself what evidence could be used to prove or disprove such a theory, what observable reality would be so if that were true which would not be so otherwise, what experiment could demonstrate that, you will quickly realize that it is not much use as scientific theory.  At least in asking about the existence of God, we can adduce historical and legal evidence in favor of such a theory; in regard to your theory (which I understand you hold only as a musing and not as a belief), the only evidence I can see--that the universe is expanding, making itself larger without altering the total mass/energy within it--strongly suggests that if it is a fragment of some larger universe, that world is very different from anything we can imagine.  (The only thing that comes to mind which might perceive itself as increasing in size while retaining the same mass/energy total would be the contents of an egg; even that would not be the same, but might in some way be analogous to the experience of the universe in some way--that is, the universe could be embryonic in your imagined larger universe, but the rules of that world would still have to be incomprensibly different.)

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Instant Gratification and Choice

  If you are correct that humans seek instant gratification through the path of least resistance (PLR, as my colleague E. R. Jones calls it), this is all the more reason to question why more people are not making more dubious choices.  After all, it is through delayed gratification that we survive--going to work instead of spending the end of your money on an afternoon at the amusement park; sending candy and flowers to the girl at the other desk instead of accosting her in the elevator; buying chicken for dinner instead of filet mignon so that there will be dinner tomorrow also.  The tendency toward instant gratification would have us reverse all of those choices, whatever the long-term consequences.  And granted that some of us might recognize the hazards of living for today and dying tomorrow, it still seems unlikely that the world would have become civilized, so decent as it has, if all worlds are possible and all choices are made.  But for the multiverse theory, the fact that we are all 99% likely to do the right thing does not alter the fact that we are 1% likely to do the wrong thing, and therefore we create two worlds--one in which we do the right thing, and one in which we do the wrong thing.  I say not:  I say that whatever we actually did, we were 100% likely to do that, and would do that again were we to live through it again with no memories we did not have then, no changes in the circumstances of that event, no alterations in outside influences.  There are an infinite number of "possible" results to any math problem--truly as many as there are numbers and fractions of numbers, what could be called a "large" or "dense" infinity--but there is usually only one actual result, and that actual result will occur every time.  If you have the game FreeCell on your computer, you may have noticed that although the cards are dealt at random, you can select a game by number--because if you enter the same "seed number" into the random number generator, you will get the exact same sequence of "random" numbers, so that the cards will fall in the same pattern.  If you take a person with specific genetic characteristics and specific experience who at a specific age is given a specific choice based on specific information, if nothing different goes into the decision, the choice will be the same every time, as long as it is the first time. 

  Thank you for the opportunity--indeed, the challenge--to explain my understanding of time against the background of excellent questions and hypotheses.  As I mentioned to someone on ICQ, you force me to think--and that's important.  I look forward to the next round.


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Read the last of the Buckley Time Travel postings.


Books by the Author

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