View Poll Results: What do you think?

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  • Instant historic rewrite

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  • Spreading altenrate timeline

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  • I dunno. But good question

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  • Your head exploded

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  • Incorrect question (unacknowledged vote)

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Thread: Speed/Time

  1. #1
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    Speed/Time

    First of all, let me start out saying that I am not EvilEye. I am his son, Brandon.
    I am fourteen, in 9th grade, and am in all Honors classes. I asked my dad's opinion on this question. That was a BAD idea. I did not get the impression that he understood me.
    So, here it is.
    Assume you are in the future. Wormholes and time travel are obtainable, though only available to the top scientists. You happen to be one.You have access to a machine which creates a wormhole that can also warp time to your liking. Don't ask how. Communication is faster than light as of this future. In fact, communication is instantaneous.
    You decide to go back in time one year to a planet which is completely uninhabited about thirty-four light years away. You bring with you a couch. Why a couch? Well, it is really ugly, and you wanted to get rid of it anyway. Besides that, it could be no easier to pick out against the landscape, making your experiment just that much less complicated.
    You have also put many instant transmitters in the couch.
    When you come back, you check your computer for the transmission signals from the couch. But, before doing that, you return to the world through a same-time wormhole and see the couch five feet in front of you. You are now sure it is still there. Using a hand-held device, you check every transmitter to be sure they all still work. They do.
    You return through the wormhole. NOW you check the computer for the transmissions. My question lies here....

    Now I am not doubting that the transmissions would still be instant, what I don't understand is if you would recieve the transmissions or not. I am wondering, if you changed the space-time continuum (using a variable which should not affect the future in any unforeseen way for safety reasons) would that change instantaneously rewrite the entirety of the continuum? OR... would the change travel outward in a sphere at the speed of light; thus making a sphere of an alternate timeline which would constantly expand at, once again, the speed of light until it consumes every last tiny piece of the universe.

    For anybody who I lost somewhere along the way, (Points at own dad who could only come up with the conclusion of my question being incorrect...), think of it like this.
    You take a piece of the fabric of the space-time continuum. Imagine it is an actual fabric. The question I pose is this. Would changing an event somewhere around the middle be like changing the color of the thread from then on? Or would it be comparable to spilling a dye on the fabric; the dye then radiating out through space and forward through time?

    In all honesty, I thought this one up on the bus ride to school one morning. It has plauged me ever since because I would never be able to find out.

    If you vote for an answer, and you have ANY imput beyond that answer, please post anyway!

    (P.S. My dad told me that there was a spell check in here, and I cannot find it. Sorry for the typos.)

    (If there are any! )
    Last edited by EvilEye; 2008-Sep-21 at 05:05 AM. Reason: gramatical typo

  2. #2
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    I'm suddenly reminded of Capt. Janeway...

    Simply put, if you traveled back in time and changed something, then that change was not made in the past. It was made in the present.

    You made the question much more complicated than it needed to be.

    The "continuum" and "Timeline" stuff is good wording for Sci Fi to make it sound all fancy- and that's about all it's good for.

    Imagine standing on a river bank. You look at the water.
    Then you send a clone back in time to stand 100 yards away and drop a piece of styrofoam in the river.
    You will see the styrofoam float by. The river did not change.
    Consider time like that river.

  3. #3
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    I don't know why you're asking on here, Brandon, this is the "David Hasselhoff appreciation society forum", your father is a much appreciated long term member...

  4. #4
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    I agree with Neverfly.

    If you put a beacon on the couch a year ago you would get the signal before you left to do it. This logic works fine in your hypothetical universe, but the question is wrong in ours.

    BTW, you get an A in english language skills. So rare these days.

  5. #5
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    In order for me to answer your posting I would need to imagine that instant is a possible fact. It can never be. When you make that leap of fact to fiction you can have anything you like... But given all you say as fact then ... You might be able to break the laws of reality, but the rest of this universe is stuck with C as the velocity that can not be attained or exceeded. if you got home before the light speed image arrives then no. The lamp does not yet shine.

  6. #6
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    Exactly what I tried to tell him. At least he's thinking.

    I would have had him post in the ATM section, but feared he would get weird answers.

    Thanks so far.... looking forward to more.
    EE

  7. #7
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    First of all, let me say that all questions in science are inherently experimental questions, so no definitive answer can exist for your question in the absence of an experiment that actually meets its general attributes. A theory can be thought of as a way to connect all the various experiments that share a certain set of general attributes, but it cannot be thought of as a way to determine in advance the result of an experiment that includes fundamentally new attributes about which we know nothing-- as yours seems to. So all I can do is give my opinion, based on experiments that have been done. The experiments that have been done always show that the effects of causation are much like the spreading dye in your question, so I chose that answer.

    However, I think your question is really asking, would that picture still hold if we include two fundamentally new things, time travel and instantaneous communication (the latter turns out to not even be easy to define, let alone carry out). But those two fundamentally new things bring us into a realm of experiment that has not only never been done, but seems quite likely to be fundamentally impossible. So that's why you are also getting quite a few of the last answer to the poll. Ultimately, we'll never know until such a time as we can actually do the experiment, and that might be never.

  8. #8
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    This is all about "What if?" The ATM board isn't very good with "What ifs".

    Brandon,

    The "What if?" in this case is basically "What if time travel was possible?"
    What I think would happen is that next week, three older yous, from three
    different times in the future, show up in your home on a day when you
    would otherwise be alone. (You all know that because your dad was out
    for most of the day and nobody came to the door, so the future yous
    know it was a good day to get together, and you of course kept a record
    of the date and time for your little reunion, so that you wouldn't forget.
    One of your future yous gave you that record, so you'd never have to
    actually create it.)

    The future yous give you a time-travel machine and explain to you how
    to use it safely. They also tell you much of what you will be doing for
    the rest of your life, and will provide you with information that will help
    you in your time travels. Also some cash for expenses and investment.
    Since they know exactly what to invest in, the few hundred thousand
    dollars they give you will make you a billionaire by the time you are 18.
    The cash for expenses is of a variety of kinds from various eras, past
    and future.

    Your future yous also explain to you how to use the time machine to
    obtain as many more time machines as you want from the future. They
    can tell you how many times you will do that, of course, since they will
    already have done it.

    Your future yous will likely know how, where, and when you will die.
    I wonder if they will tell you.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilEye View Post
    I am wondering, if you changed the space-time continuum (using a variable which should not affect the future in any unforeseen way for safety reasons) would that change instantaneously rewrite the entirety of the continuum? OR... would the change travel outward in a sphere at the speed of light; thus making a sphere of an alternate timeline which would constantly expand at, once again, the speed of light until it consumes every last tiny piece of the universe.
    This is sort of like the traveling back in time to shoot your father before you were conceived concept... Which, if your Dad didn't understand...

    Nevermind.

    Essentially, my take is that if you're going to go back in time, your pre-now adventures have already occurred, and it doesn't matter how much information you know about them beforehand, as one way or another, you're destined to repeat them.

    R. A. Heinlein's, "By His Bootstraps" is a wonderful novella where a man caught in a several foreys through time attempted to do just that, once he caught on that he kept runing into himself. I won't reveal any additional details, except to say that I think you would find it a very enjoyable, and enlightening read.

  10. #10
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    I might see things from a different view. The fact that what you ask can never be.
    Things the mind can imagine do not mean they will or can happen. That is where this fits.
    There can not ever be instant communication,
    The worm hole is a mound of earth we call a casting... ask a worm.
    Time travel has been a favorite subject of fiction writers, Its still fiction.
    You can not have all you want.
    When the physics says no, That is what it means. No.
    The human mind can concept all the what ifs you like. It does not make it possible.

  11. #11
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    Your future yous will likely know how, where, and when you will die.
    I wonder if they will tell you.
    Who says you have to die at all if you have a time machine?

    As long as paradoxes are both possible and have no ill consequences, there's no reason why you can't be effectively immortal by just snatching a new copy of yourself from the past any time you yourself are getting old. Or when one of yous (?) has died.

    Add in some kind of memory transfer device and any young version of yourself you snatch from the past can be used to make you immortal.

    So basically... eternal youth and immortality are side effects or time travel if paradoxes are not an issue.

  12. #12
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    They don't affect the traveler, only the people left behind.... if multiple universes work.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drunk Vegan
    Who says you have to die at all if you have a time machine? ...
    Time machines and immortality have one thing in common: neither will ever exist.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kleindoofy View Post
    Time machines and immortality have one thing in common: neither will ever exist.
    You are the time machine. Move and you have traveled through time.

  15. #15
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    Drunk Vegan,

    Only one impossible thing at a time is permitted. Time travel does not
    give immortality.

    EvilEye,

    Don't move, and you travel in time, too.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    Drunk Vegan,

    Only one impossible thing at a time is permitted. Time travel does not
    give immortality.

    EvilEye,

    Don't move, and you travel in time, too.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    True. But technically, you can't not be in motion. You are the reference point in your time, so moving yourself is moving the reference frame.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilEye View Post
    You are the reference point in your time, so moving yourself is moving the reference frame.
    Wittgenstein pointed out something pretty amazing in that regard-- he said that he could not understand why people for millennia used the fact that the Sun appeared to orbit the Earth as evidence that the Sun really did orbit the Earth. He said that to use an observation as evidence of something, don't you have to be able to imagine an alternative possibility for that observation?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Wittgenstein pointed out something pretty amazing in that regard-- he said that he could not understand why people for millennia used the fact that the Sun appeared to orbit the Earth as evidence that the Sun really did orbit the Earth. He said that to use an observation as evidence of something, don't you have to be able to imagine an alternative possibility for that observation?
    Sure, but when speaking of the passage of time, it's all relative to the observer.

    It's individualistic.

    The person driving in a car is literally aging more slowly than the guy walking down the sidewalk. ...relative to each other.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Wittgenstein pointed out something pretty amazing in that regard-- he
    said that he could not understand why people for millennia used the fact
    that the Sun appeared to orbit the Earth as evidence that the Sun really
    did orbit the Earth. He said that to use an observation as evidence of
    something, don't you have to be able to imagine an alternative possibility
    for that observation?
    No.

    But even if so, so what?

    If I see the person step off the sidewalk and into the the side of the
    moving car, that is evidence the person stepped off the sidewalk and
    into the side of the moving car. I haven't imagined any alternative
    possibilities. Maybe I'm able to imagine an alternative possibility, but
    whether I am or not, my ability to imagine an alternative possibility
    doesn't affect the fact that what I saw is evidence that what I saw
    actually happened.

    So I agree: Wittgenstein's comment is pretty amazing.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilEye View Post
    Assume you are in the future. Wormholes and time travel are obtainable, though only available to the top scientists.
    Assume you are in the future. Wormholes and time travel are obtainable, though only available to the top scientists rich and/or powerful.

    Fixed it for you.
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    The human mind can concept all the what ifs you like. It does not make it possible.
    You said it, astromark! And if God meant man to fly, he'd have given him wings!

    Yeah...

    ***

    Old-timer: "You wanna do WHAT?"

    50's geek: "Put a man on the Moon."

    Old-timer (laughing): "That's what I thought you said, boy. Whoo-eee - you been smoking something funny? 'A man on the Moon' he says... Ha-ha-ha-ha.. That's a good one, son, a good one!

    ***
    Old-timer (laughing): "A wireless telegraph? (gufaw) Are you out of your mind? What in the world are you using to carry the signal?"

    Marconi: "It travels over the ether."

    Old-timer (confused): "The 'ether?' You mean like whisky?"

    ***
    Heinlein said it best: "Always listen to the experts. They'll tell you what you can't do, and why. Then, go do it."

    Star Trek imagined that hand-held communicators wouldn't be available for a hundred years or so. A decade later, cell phones were all the rage, and two decades more we had satellite phones. Now we have portable, integrated computing/communication devices like Blackberrys that have far more horsepower under the hood than our old IBM PCs.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    No.
    Actually, I think the answer is "definitely yes".
    But even if so, so what?
    That's for you to decide. I merely repeat Wittgenstein's insight.

  23. #23
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    My son will be back this weekend, and learn that when you ask a question, you get a couple of good answers and a ton of bickering. heh....

    edit - Oh yeah... he did get to read the first few, and totally accepted the fact that his question started out wrong.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilEye View Post
    My son will be back this weekend, and learn that when you ask a question, you get a couple of good answers and a ton of bickering. heh....
    That reminds me of the old joke about how many newsgroup subscribers it takes to change a lightbulb.
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    I might see things from a different view. The fact that what you ask can never be.
    Things the mind can imagine do not mean they will or can happen. That is where this fits.
    There can not ever be instant communication,
    The worm hole is a mound of earth we call a casting... ask a worm.
    Time travel has been a favorite subject of fiction writers, Its still fiction.
    You can not have all you want.
    When the physics says no, That is what it means. No.
    The human mind can concept all the what ifs you like. It does not make it possible.
    You do realize that there is no law of physics that prevents Time Travel, though, don't you?
    “Of all the sciences cultivated by mankind, Astronomy is acknowledged to be, and undoubtedly is, the most sublime, the most interesting, and the most useful. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the Earth is discovered, but our very faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above their low contracted prejudices.” - James Ferguson

  26. #26
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    Stop the Bus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Phoenix View Post
    You do realize that there is no law of physics that prevents Time Travel, though, don't you?
    No. I do not.

    If some event has already happened and has become the history that past events are. Nothing can change that. It really is that simple. What has already accrued has already accrued. It can never be undone. To think any other reality is a fiction unsupported by fact. Fiction is not fact.

    Making snide remarks about what you think might one day be does not change the fact. As we have not found evidence of time travelers vistaing us from the future we can not argue what we do not know. As wrong as the science fiction lovers think I am. They can offer no proof of the proposal. Time travel.

    However I can now argue that we do travel through time. Unfortunately I am unable to control that passage. I was born, am living, and will die. That is regrettable but true.

  27. #27
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    If some event has already happened and has become the history that past events are. Nothing can change that. It really is that simple. What has already accrued has already accrued. It can never be undone. To think any other reality is a fiction unsupported by fact. Fiction is not fact.
    What about those who purport that the quantum indeterminancy shows that every possibility that can happen, does happen?

    Then when you travel backward in time, and for instance kill your grandfather, you are not creating a paradox. You have just moved into a parallel universe in which you killed your grandfather and were never born.

    You yourself are not going to wink away - you were still born in the universe you came from. You just happen to be in a different universe now.

    As we have not found evidence of time travelers vistaing us from the future we can not argue what we do not know.
    Scientific precept:

    Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

    That they have not revealed themselves does not mean they are not here.

    Or, if they aren't here yet it could be an indication that time travel will not be invented for some time, but when it is it will be restricted to traveling in any time period after the time machine was built.

    Also it's worth noting that time travel could seriously pollute things if there is only one single timeline. The history would become fluid with enough people influencing things.

    I would submit that the *only* stable configuration for a universe is for time travel not to be invented.

    So after a while of people mucking around in the past, somebody changes something that causes the time travel machine not to be built.

    Twenty years later or whatever, someone else discovers how to build a time machine. Same process.. until that machine is not built either.

    The end result is that the history ends up being one in which a time machine is never built by anyone. Not because it can't be built, but because it's the only stable configuration for the universe. Enough people time traveling guarantees a timeline in which time travel is not discovered as a result.

    As wrong as the science fiction lovers think I am. They can offer no proof of the proposal.
    Nor can you offer mathematical proof that time travel is impossible.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drunk Vegan View Post

    Nor can you offer mathematical proof that time travel is impossible.
    I think it's a conceptual issue. All we know in our world is the "cause and effect" progression of time and events. We don't observe any "effect and then cause". I've never seen any fallen trees suddenly rise up and create a backwards-turning hurricane.

    Your comments about "parallel" universes reminds me of the people who talk about the "energy" of this and that (such as the energy of crystals) as if adding the word "energy" to their tall tale makes their tall tale believable and valid. All we know is one universe. Show me a parallel universe and I'll be more willing to accept it.

  29. #29
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    Smile I shall try... harder.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drunk Vegan View Post
    What about those who purport that the quantum indeterminancy shows that every possibility that can happen, does happen?

    -------- No, Thats nonsense.

    Then when you travel backward in time, and for instance kill your grandfather, you are not creating a paradox. You have just moved into a parallel universe in which you killed your grandfather and were never born.

    -------- No, That can not happen. Breaks my rules.

    You yourself are not going to wink away - you were still born in the universe you came from. You just happen to be in a different universe now.

    -------- No, The conservation of matter would prohibit such nonsense.



    Scientific precept:

    Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

    That they have not revealed themselves does not mean they are not here.

    -------- No, Yes it does. We do not do invisible around here.

    Or, if they aren't here yet it could be an indication that time travel will not be invented for some time, but when it is it will be restricted to traveling in any time period after the time machine was built.

    -------- Yes, yes. I have herd this before, its still rubbish. NO !

    Also it's worth noting that time travel could seriously pollute things if there is only one single timeline. The history would become fluid with enough people influencing things.

    I would submit that the *only* stable configuration for a universe is for time travel not to be invented.

    --------- Absolutely. The first right thing you have said.

    So after a while of people mucking around in the past, somebody changes something that causes the time travel machine not to be built.

    Twenty years later or whatever, someone else discovers how to build a time machine. Same process.. until that machine is not built either.

    The end result is that the history ends up being one in which a time machine is never built by anyone. Not because it can't be built, but because it's the only stable configuration for the universe. Enough people time traveling guarantees a timeline in which time travel is not discovered as a result.

    ------- Umm, Err, When I fathom what it is you actually said here i will comment. I think you have just shot your foot.



    Nor can you offer mathematical proof that time travel is impossible.
    ------- and norr do I need to. The fact is it is not. Can not. Will never. It just can't be ever possible to change what has already happened.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drunk Vegan View Post
    What about those who purport that the quantum indeterminancy
    shows that every possibility that can happen, does happen?

    Then when you travel backward in time, and for instance kill your
    grandfather, you are not creating a paradox. You have just moved
    into a parallel universe in which you killed your grandfather and were
    never born.
    That isn't travelling backward in time, then, it is travelling into a
    parallel universe. And it isn't killing your grandfather, it is killing
    someone who was parallel to your grandfather. This way of dealing
    with the paradox gives up on time travel and replaces it with travel
    between parallel universes. It replaces travel to a place that we
    know really existed with travel to a place that was invented for
    the purpose of avoiding paradoxes.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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