problems of time travel being common and ordinary

Harpo

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I've long thought that when the first time machine gets invented and switched on, somebody from the future will instantly come out of it - travelling as far back in their past as they can. That person will be regarded as the temporal equivalent of Neil Armstrong.

If, in the future, time machines are machines in which a person travels through time (to the earlier or later days of that machines existence - think of it like a temporal teleport) then one day such machines will be as common as trains are today, and time travellers can come and go as they please to whenever a time machine exists. Just like train passengers can go to wherever railways lines have been laid. Before there were railways lines nobody took trains anywhere, and when they were invented people worried about not being able to survive such a journey. Nowadays train travel is common and ordinary and worldwide. Apply the train analogy to time machines.

My question is, in a world where such time travel has become common and ordinary, what are the consequences? For example, everyone who'll be famous for any reason will be known from their birth right through their life, even before they achieve whatever it is (for a real life example, think of when Prince Charles or Prince William were born). Criminals would know that they will get away with it, millionaires won't bother working hard to get there (because their names will be in a list of millionaires) and the register of marriages will tell everyone the name of their future spouses.

What else? What would happen to religions, in a world where the future history books tell you which religions are going to die out and which will become huge? If an asteroid causes worldwide destruction in the year N, won't everyone time travel away from that year to a future time when the effects of the destruction have faded? What else?
 
If what your suggesting was put into practice, and that's how time travel played out, I think you would have a massively complicated story on your hands! :eek: If people knew what they were destined to do, thanks to their future selves becoming famous in the past, then their knowledge of their future achievements, or lack thereof, could encourage them to change things, thus changing history. And if they were to do that, then the achievements made famous by their future selves never would have happened, and therefore they wouldn't know about their destiny, wouldn't seek to change it, and...
Well, it loops on like that. Paradoxes would occur very easily. :eek:

However, it all depends on how you perceive time travel. Some theorize that travelling to the past would take you to a different time-line, in which any change you make to the past will not affect the future you came from, thus averting a paradox. (You might screw up time as far as this alternate world in concerned, but hey, no paradox! :D ) So maybe you could make that work. Still, time travel is considered one of the hardest plot-points to get right. Even masters of sci-fi storytelling can mess it up, so you'd better take great care if you're thinking of giving it a go.
 
Yes I'd have a massively complicated story, but it's a future world that could possibly become fact someday, so if I can work out all the problems, or at least identify them, then I'd have something special.

People changing things wouldn't work out, if the history books say so-and-so lives to be a hundred, then no assassination attempt will work (but it will be known about and prevented, of course)

I think the surprises and interesting stuff would be among the obscure things and people who never achieve big things, never get a mention in the history books. Those people would be the free ones, and the Movers and Shakers would be stuck in their temporal rut. Their biographies would say everything about their lives, and not reading ones own biography wouldn't change anything, because many of the people one'd meet would have read it.
 
If time machines became common place like trains, then the world would be in chaos. There are just too many complications with this. Any person travelling back to change one thing can change the future for everyone. By this Butteryfly Effect the future would be changing constantly. Can you imagine sitting at your desk at work and seeing the sky change color or cars disappearing, the news online would constantly change. Your co-worker could just vanish as you talk about last nights Dancing with the Cavemen episode.

Time travel is just too complicated so there needs to be rules in place.

On a side note, I always wanted to write a story about a guy who can time travel, but only 1 minute in the past. How would this affect him, how could he use this for the better of the world. At least he could take back an embarrassing pick up line at the bar :)
 
This is exactly why I'm asking for suggestions and opinions - it seems to me that the world would be in chaos (imagine, let's say, that Vatican City gets destroyed by an asteroid in a few hundred years - what would news of that do to Catholicism?)

But I don't know if things would change colour or vanish. If the sky changes colour in Year N, then it does, and that will always be a fact.

I think we consider it impossible in the same way that heavier-than-air flight used to be thought impossible, or horseless carriages, or instantaneous communication with people in other countries.
 
OK, that is where it gets confusing.

eg. I am sitting at my window. The sky is blue. You travel back in time and destroy the atmosphere because you can. Are you saying that while I look out the window at that moment, I will just not notice that the sky is no longer blue?

I understand what you mean by it has always been that way but there has to be a moment of change, because just because one person travels back, doesn't mean all other time lines are not live and moving.

I would think that if time travel were possible then time would not be linear. Things I have already done could all be altered. So time is just a crazy incomprehensible 4D mess when you think about it and it hurts my brain.
 
and people said similar things about trains & planes & phones before they existed. It's impossible for us to get our heads around, I know, but if such a machine gets invented and switched on, then continues to work for (let's say) a century, then the day it is switched on is going to be visited by travellers from throughout that century. And those at the latter end will bring the latest portable time machines with them, in order to share them with the world ( at a price, of course)

When a machine breaks down, it will always have been known that it'd break down, and a new machine will be placed next to it (think of elevators in very tall skyscrapers - each one takes people up & down a certain number of floors but none cover the entire height of the tower)
 
Well, of course you could have a 'Time Police" that prevents (or attempts to prevent) anyone from mucking about with the time lines. Information about the 'future' would have to be sealed and guarded from those in the 'present'. I can see a number of cool plot possibilities there.

Or you could have a universe where is it simply not possible to alter the past or one's destiny. No matter how a character tried to change things that either have (or are supposed to) happen, things remain the same.
 
Time travel is only possible into the future, or a time-traveller from 4500AD (which is when they invent time-travel) would have been to see us... Does that help?

You missed my point earlier - if a time travel machine doesn't itself travel anywhere (like a railway line or a road) but instead is a machine in which people may travel to any time during that machine's existence (like a passenger in a car or a train) then time travellers can go anywhen that such machines exist. The earliest they can travel is the time when the first working time machine is first switched on.
 
Well, of course you could have a 'Time Police" that prevents (or attempts to prevent) anyone from mucking about with the time lines. Information about the 'future' would have to be sealed and guarded from those in the 'present'. I can see a number of cool plot possibilities there.

Or you could have a universe where is it simply not possible to alter the past or one's destiny. No matter how a character tried to change things that either have (or are supposed to) happen, things remain the same.

Ugh, just had a flashback to "Time Cop" with Van Damme...and Damme that was a bad movie! haha

I like Bonemans comment....but maybe there have been time travelers and we just don't know it. If they have a time machine they most likely have a cloak of invisibility!

Have you guys seen the time traveler in the Charlie Chaplin movie? If not, Google Charlie Chaplin Time Traveler...its worth a watch.
 
( I just noticed this thread has eleven posts and eleven views - everyone who looks wants to say something)

(or maybe the counter is broken?)

edit: now it says 61 views, so yes the counter was faulty.
 
You missed my point earlier - if a time travel machine doesn't itself travel anywhere (like a railway line or a road) but instead is a machine in which people may travel to any time during that machine's existence (like a passenger in a car or a train) then time travellers can go anywhen that such machines exist. The earliest they can travel is the time when the first working time machine is first switched on.

I didnt grab that part either. Actually that is a cool idea. Almost like a teleport from Star Trek but a teleport through time instead. I like it. Still has all the complications but the premise is sound.
 
Sorry I wasn't sufficiently clear at first. Back to the railway analogy - imagine we all live in a mountainous country with no railway lines, and we can see any railway lines nearby either, but we'd love to not have to clamber up and down the mountains. Without somebody laying down tracks, no trains can ever visit our country.


As for the premise, it gets around that old "time travel will never be a reality - otherwise we'd see time travellers visiting us" argument. No time travel until Year N, and then more time travel than anyone could possibly hope for.
 
You missed my point earlier - if a time travel machine doesn't itself travel anywhere (like a railway line or a road) but instead is a machine in which people may travel to any time during that machine's existence (like a passenger in a car or a train) then time travellers can go anywhen that such machines exist. The earliest they can travel is the time when the first working time machine is first switched on.


Ah, but surely if they can travel to any time during that machine's existence (I like this idea, btw) then it's only capable of travellling into the future initially, until the 'past' of the machine is available for travellers to go back to, yes?

Invented time machine 2567AD and in 3567Ad travellers will be able to go back to when it was invented, but no further... Complicated in its simplicity, really.
 
Ah, but surely if they can travel to any time during that machine's existence (I like this idea, btw) then it's only capable of travellling into the future initially, until the 'past' of the machine is available for travellers to go back to, yes?

Invented time machine 2567AD and in 3567Ad travellers will be able to go back to when it was invented, but no further... Complicated in its simplicity, really.
That's what I said at the start - when the time machine is switched on, a traveller from the future will arrive in it.
 
I think the question depends very strongly upon the viewpoint. If the story never involves the perspective of someone who travels time, then it would be very difficult to work out what has changed as the result of time-travel. It would be a very linear story with lots of comings-and-goings, likeThe Time-Traveller's Wife[/i] with a cast of thousands, each hopper proclaiming themselves the saviour of humanity from some tragedy or another. A historian trying to thread together the course of averted history, musing whether his current timeline would be preserved, might make an interesting short story.
 
On a side note, I always wanted to write a story about a guy who can time travel, but only 1 minute in the past. How would this affect him, how could he use this for the better of the world. At least he could take back an embarrassing pick up line at the bar


Have you seen Next with Nicolas Cage?

Harpo, have you read the grandfather paradox? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_paradox

It's an interesting idea you have. Would time travel technology become so wide spread? Wars could be fought to control the technology. Business could expend great amounts of money to keep it to themselves. I like your railway analogy, but I think the dangers of time travel would make it a different problem.

Anyway, to run with your idea of it being widespread. What about a side effect? A dose of radiation each time you travel; only safely allowing a dozen or less journeys?
 
No i have not seen Next but I assume I would be stealing its premise....and I would have zero time travelling writing skills so it will never happen anyways!
 
I would suspect if you built a time portal in 2563, you would then be able to travel only to that portal as long as it existed. Some how the traveler would have to have a way to determine whether or not the portal was empty at the moment he or she was going to travel to so you didn't have a temporal version of the Fly. You would not be able to travel to April 3, 2581 at 6:00 PM GMT because of a power failure caused by Anti-Tempite's bomb. Of Course, then it starts to get complicated.
 

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