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- Chris Takakura

Time traveling and time paradox

Date December 25, 2008 | Published by |

We all know what time traveling is. As a matter of fact, there is a stigma on that word stating that only super geeks tend to sit and think about it or sit and talk about it over coffee. However, I believe that it is an important topic to really think about knowing that we might one day be faced with a decision or choice of being able to go back in time.

So who wants to time travel? Are you sure you want to? Read on if you’re interested in what you face with time traveling.


Time traveling has been something that I’ve been fascinated with for a long time. I grew up with the theory of time traveling. No, not because my parents talked about it a lot but I used to watch and read a Japanese comic called “Doraemon”, which in number of occasions talked about and did time traveling as part of their story. (Wikipedia link to Doraemon)

Doraemon is a robot that traveled from the future into the 80’s to protect a Japanese young teen named Nobita. Think of it like The Terminator but he is not there to kill and there isn’t much violence in the cartoon itself. The robot itself was modeled to resemble a giant cat. It does not walk in four legs but with two, and lost it’s ears after a mouse bit it off (thus Doraemon has a traumatic fear of mice). Doraemon was and still is a Japanese cartoon icon. It’s much famous than Tom and Jerry or Smurfs in the states. It has a fame of Mickey Mouse but only in the eastern part of the world. The best part about Doraemon was that it was highly educational. This makes watching Doraemon anime cartoons to be highly interesting even for adults, because it talks about Japanese history, scientific theory, and the idea behind time traveling. Mickey Mouse cartoons did not do this.

In many science fiction novels, movies, and cartoons, we see the idea of time traveling coming up a lot. However many of these stories fail to tell time traveling the correct way. The biggest mistake some stories make is the idea that the main characters existence in the past does not exist once the main character goes back into the past from their present time. In Doraemon, the idea behind time traveling was depicted very well. Doraemon and Nobita would go back in time, lets say a year from their original date. The cartoon showed that if they visited their home in the past, there would be an alternate existence of Doraemon and Nobita, resulting in 2 Doraemon’s and 2 Nobita’s. This makes great sense. I don’t see why certain science fiction writers do not do this.

Imagine, you, going back a year from today when you read this blog post. Now I am sure you remember where you lived a year ago so let’s say you go back to the place where you lived a year from this current time. In almost 99% confidence, I can guarantee that there would be two of you in that place. One from the future, and one in the past. The one from the future is you, and the one from the past is to simply put you a year ago. You might have a different hair cut, might have a different room set up, might be doing something you don’t do anymore. Is everyone with me so far? It is not a hard concept to grasp. The next concept is where it becomes very complicating.

With time traveling, we have no choice but to think of the idea behind time paradox. A time paradox or grandfather paradox is the idea and theory of what would happen if you were to go into the past and kill your grandfather of either your mother or father. This would alter the time line of your ancestors intensely, resulting in you never to exist in the first place. There are many theories as to what would happen to you if this action was to take place. A good example of this in the motion picture is The Terminator. In the 1984 hit The Terminator, Skynet (an artificial intelligence that took over the world and sought war against humans with nuclear weapons) programs a Terminator-800 model 101 (schwarzenegger) to go after Sarah Connor. This is because Sarah Connor’s son becomes the great leader of human resistance against machines. To win by default, Skynet sends a Terminator to kill Sarah Connor before John Connor can even be born.

Now if time traveling was possible, what would really happen? You travel back a 100 years or so and the INSTANT you kill your grandfather would be the INSTANT you can possibly vanish into thin air. It is a form of a long routed suicide in a way. In Doraemon, the idea of you just vanishing into thin air or being sucked into a vortex of time has been called interruption in time displacement. That vortex is an entrance or an exit to the time displacement field, where it is famously known to be the “4th dimension”. It is an alternate zone off from “reality” as we call it, where the single purpose of existence is to control time. In science, this “time displacement” as Doraemon called it is called a Spacetime. Basically when you vanish into thin air, or be sucked into a vortex, you are being sucked into Spacetime, which the Spacetime alone would delete you from existence. In science, time traveling alone is done by folding over the field of Spacetime and developing a wormhole or tunnel from one side of the Space time to the other side. Think of it as you folding a piece of long cloth. You can have one end of the cloth touching the other end by folding it. This is time traveling. There are no photographic or visual evidence of the existence of wormholes, however, “time” containing some kind of tunnel or wormholes are a logical solutions in general relativity.

Now there is also another theory in that nothing would happen to you. You killing your grandfather is not possible at all, because the “idea” of you killing your grandfather alone would seize the action of you traveling into time to kill him in the first place. If you can erase your existence by killing your grandfather, you wouldn’t time travel in the first place to go kill him because your existence wouldn’t even exist. Without your existence, time traveling into the past would not happen and your grandfather would still be alive. This is the idea that even if time traveling is possible, fate itself cannot be changed when it has already happened. In Doraemon, there was an episode in which Nobita goes back in time to warn himself of the consequences a certain action he did caused. This however did not prevent the consequence from even happening because he altered the time line by the past Nobita not doing something to cause the consequence he faced, but someone else ended up doing something for Nobita to end up in the same consequence in the first place. To simply put, lets say you go back into time to warn yourself not to hang Christmas lights from your roof today. Because you are sitting in your room with 60 stitches in your head from falling off the roof. So you go back into time about 8 hours earlier to warn yourself not to climb the roof. With this action or the altercation you made within your own life, two possibilities can be thought up.

1) You stitches vanish into thin air (into the time displacement field), and your wounds heal like it never existed. This would happen the instant you convince yourself not to climb the roof that day.

or

2) You watch your past self all day to make sure he doesn’t climb the roof. Then he goes into the kitchen and have a broken plate you never threw out fall out of your cabinet drawers and land on your past self’s head. And it lands in the same exact location where you got your stitches. This is the idea that although you altered the time line from yourself climbing the roof, the injury itself is decided by fate and cannot be changed no matter if you can control the 4th dimension.

This idea that things that were meant to happen cannot be changed is called a Ontological paradox. In an Ontological paradox, you changing the past isn’t going to change anything. I stated the theory of how you may have prevented a certain type of incident resulting in an injury but you cannot prevent the injury itself.

Now there is another theory called Predestination paradox. This goes hand in hand with Onotological paradox in a lot of science fiction. However this is not you changing a small element of the past but being a part of it. If I were to use the example above about you falling the roof top, this is how it would work.

You at the current moment is sitting at a computer desk and hurting over the stitches on your forehead. You decide to change the present by going into the past. You go to the past and meet your past self, and warn him/her that he/she should not climb the roof today because of the injury you sustained. Then he/she goes on a ego trip, argues with you and says “I wasn’t planning to climb the roof today but now that you mention it, it would be much easier for me to put up those Christmas lights. I will be careful and prove to you I can do it without injury.” This is Predestination paradox at it’s work. Basically, you NOT time traveling would have prevented your injury because you convinced your past self that he/she can climb the roof to put up those lights. If you have never traveled into the past, he/she (as he/she stated) was not even planning to climb up the rooftop anyways. This again explains the idea that although you can travel in time, you cannot change the course of fate. This theory is controversial because it reverses all idea’s of religious revolution.

If you’ve watched The Terminator and The Terminator 2, the whole series is a gigantic time paradox. It covers grounds of Grandfather paradox AND Predestination paradox. John Connor the leader of human resistance sends a human soldier named Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor. He does this because Skynet is sending a Terminator to kill Sarah Connor before John was born. The time paradox about all this is that Sarah and Kyle end up being together, making love, and Sarah ends up pregnant with John Connor. If John Connor never sent Kyle Reese through time, his existence would have vanished. Another paradox in the series happens at the end of The Terminator, and the opening of The Terminator 2. At the end of the Terminator, a computer company named Cyberdine Systems recovers the arm of the Terminator and the neuronet processor in the computer factory that Sarah and Kyle ran into to avoid The Terminator from killing them. The Terminator gets crushed by Sarah Connor in a hydraulics machine, leaving the arm intact and the neuronet processor half assembled. In Terminator 2, you realize that Cyberdine Systems recovered those items, and are trying to reverse engineer the technology. However you realize that this company trying to do this results in the formation of Skynet itself, which leads to Judgment Day, or the beginning of the war against machines. If Skynet NEVER sent that Terminator back in time, their existence wouldn’t have existed, since Cyberdine Systems would not have developed the Skynet mainframe in the first place.

Then the one good thing the director did for Terminator 3 was that he brought into idea that fate cannot be changed. (I say one good thing because I thought the film itself was repetitive and somewhat awful). He brought this idea in by stating that although they prevented Judgment Day from happening on the date that was originally planned, they only bought more time to prepare for it. This again is the same idea of how you prevented yourself from falling off the roof but something else happened to cause that injury. With Terminator 2, they destroyed the Cyberdine Systems building only for the project to be picked up by the Air Force. It is possible that if they’ve never destroyed Cyberdine Systems and get the project researcher killed (Dyson), Skynet wouldn’t have been a software mainframe and a hardware one that could have been “unplugged” before it went self aware. It is possible that Sarah, John and the Terminator destroying Cyberdine Systems building lead for the Air Force to build the skynet mainframe as a software, thus preventing John Connor from shutting it down in Terminator 3. If it was indeed their fault for Skynet to be a software program that cannot be shut down, this is Predestination paradox in the works. If the whole idea that even if they destroyed Cyberdine Systems, fate is fate and someone would have made Skynet anyway, is the Ontological paradox.

We are pretty famous for repeating history over and over again. What if computers and the technology such as microprocessors were a time paradox in itself?

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