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Somewhere In Time

June 18, 2011

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go, and why? Would you go back to a special time in your life when things were the best they’ve ever been? Would you go back to the day you were born and witness your own birth? You could go back 65 million years and find out what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and what wiped them out. Maybe you’d go back to a historic date and attempt to change the course of events. You might go to April 20, 1889 and smother Hitler in his bassinet, or to April 14, 1865 and try to prevent John Wilkes Booth from killing Abe Lincoln.

All travellers to the past must be mindful of the “Grandfather Paradox” which goes something like this: Suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler’s grandmother. As a result, one of the traveler’s parents (and by extension the traveler himself) would never have been conceived. This would imply that he could not have traveled back in time after all, which means the grandfather would still be alive, and the traveler would have been conceived allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather. Thus each possibility seems to imply its own negation. More simply, changing the past changes the future in unforeseeable ways, so killing Hitler or saving Lincoln would change the future (including the present) for the better or worse.

Choosing just one point in time to visit is difficult. I would lean toward the Hippie Era of the late 1960’s, or the Wild West in the 1870’s, or 33 A.D. to meet Jesus and witness his crucifixion and resurrection. There’s always the chance that the time machine would break down and leave you stranded somewhere in time. With that in mind, I would want to choose a time before the world was so overpopulated and before the insanity of the modern electronic age; a time when the air and water were clean; a time when man and nature lived in harmony. I’ve always thought that I was a Native American in my former life, so a good time to visit would be the Cherokee nation prior to 1492 – before the white man arrived and ruined everything. If I got stranded there, I’d be okay with that.

Maybe your time machine is bi-directional and you could visit the future as well as the past. That would be scary since the future has never happened and there’s no way to know what you’ll encounter. I think I would test the waters by dropping in every 100 years and observing for a day in each century. If I got to the 24th century and found the universe portrayed in Star Trek, I might hang out for quite a while. Let me know what date you’d dial into your time machine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2011 10:49 PM

    I thought I had an answer then it seemed to trivial and stupid. This would take quite some thought.

  2. June 22, 2011 10:52 PM

    Hmm I think the responsibility of those possibilities are too much for the human race.

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