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The complications of time travel

Can time travel make sense?


  • Total voters
    34

Tybis

Me beautiful barnet!
It happens every time I watch Back to the Future, and always annoys me to no end. You know the feeling...
THIS ISN'T MAKING SENSE.
I'm talking time-travel, people!
Sure, it was a good movie, but I always end up overthinking just how the time-travel is supposed to work. I'm the type that stops myself from enjoying the films because I think to myself THAT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN EXIST RIGHT NOW. PARADOX! Logic was clearly thrown out the window in favor of an enjoyable series... or was it? That's the part that annoys me most, I just don't have the capacity or patience to figure these types of things out myself. I'm not just limiting this whole "illogical time-travel" thing to just BttF, it applies to certain other fictitious works that involve the manipulation of the past, such as the BlazBlue games, or Harry Potter (although, HP might have been the most un-paradoxial).

So, denizens of FAF, what are your views and theories on the concept of time, or its manipulation?
Did BttF really make sense? Do ANY of these "altering the past" cases make sense? Should you even care?
 

Lobar

The hell am I reading, here?
I don't really care how they resolve time travel, as long as it's consistent and makes some sort of sense. It's been a while since I watched all three BttFs so I can't say for sure they didn't screw up the consistency but I don't recall being bothered by it before.
 

Dreaming

Member
SHI- it's one of polls where you can see who's voted what.

Ahem, well, as with any subject, I have far from an advanced education on the subject, in short; I know fuck all about it. As an old friend of mine said, ''We're traveling forwards in time, right now''. :v

In a way, that kind of makes sense. From what I've heard it is actually possible to travel forwards in time. Apparently this is an issue that NASA has to deal with on launches. But it's been years since I've heard anything of this.

As for traveling backwards in time, I've only ever heard of a few logical theories, including the Alternate Universe theory, and they're....theoretical, haven't been put into practice.

Infact, here's an interesting and relevant article.

I could be wrong, of course, I know fuck all about it. :confused: I do know that BttF were great movies, though. ;)
 

CannonFodder

Resistance is futile! If 0 ohm
It's science fiction. It makes for a good movie, but doesn't work like that in real life.

The amount of energy need to time travel makes it damn near impossible and that with our current understanding of physics we can't do it. Not to mention if someone was stupid enough to try it and yet somehow smart enough to make the machine it wouldn't just send the person and/or object through time, but create a instance where the two times are happening at the same time which could potentially destroy linear time. Cause if two times are happening at the same time... well you get the idea.

Not to mention with our current understanding of time it is less like a slide show and more like a frozen river. You can potentially alter the past because the past can be fluid, however the event that led you to go back in time is fixed. The past is uncertain and can be changed, however the future is fixed and can't be altered. The future HAS to happen, but the events that led up to a event in the future can be changed, but the actual event HAS to happen.

Basically it's so next to impossible that there's no point in even trying to create a time machine. Cause you can change the events that led to the event you are trying to change, but you can't change the actual event.


Tl:dr; time travel may be possible, but it's about as pointless as the threads Surgat locks.
 
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LizardKing

Guest
In regards to films: Don't give a shit as long as it makes sense in its own little world and isn't portrayed in an utterly retarded manner. Outside of films, it's fine once you stop thinking of time as a 1-dimensional piece of string.
 

Fiesta_Jack

Calix Meus Inebrians
The parallel multiverse theory solves pretty much every paradox, and follows a consistent logical pattern of the universe. I don't know why people would not just go with that.

Occam's Razor tells me to trust it.
 
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CannonFodder

Resistance is futile! If 0 ohm
The parallel multiverse theory solves pretty much every paradox, and follows a consistent logical pattern of the universe. I don't know why people would think it's not a solid explanation.
Immediate problem: We have yet to find enough evidence to support the theory of parallel universes.

Secondary problem:You'd be playing chicken little with something that may destroy the universe under the premise of a theory that has not enough solid evidence to prove you won't destroy reality.
 

BRN

WTB Forum Mod Powers
It's science fiction. It makes for a good movie, but doesn't work like that in real life.

The amount of energy need to time travel makes it damn near impossible and that with our current understanding of physics we can't do it. Not to mention if someone was stupid enough to try it and yet somehow smart enough to make the machine it wouldn't just send the person and/or object through time, but create a instance where the two times are happening at the same time which could potentially destroy linear time. Cause if two times are happening at the same time... well you get the idea.

Not to mention with our current understanding of time it is less like a slide show and more like a frozen river. You can potentially alter the past because the past can be fluid, however the event that led you to go back in time is fixed. The past is uncertain and can be changed, however the future is fixed and can't be altered. The future HAS to happen, but the events that led up to a event in the future can be changed, but the actual event HAS to happen.

Basically it's so next to impossible that there's no point in even trying to create a time machine. Cause you can change the events that led to the event you are trying to change, but you can't change the actual event.

Tl:dr; time travel may be possible, but it's about as pointless as the threads Surgat locks.

I just want to point out that time travel isn't about the expense of energy. There isn't a machine that can be built that can do mechanical work of any kind that could cause time travel, nor does energy have any property at all that could do it either...

The thing about paradoxes is that they're logically impossible - and therefore, never happen. It's nice and reassuring to know that nothing could ever happen to cause a scenario in which a paradox might occur.

Admittedly I get way too easily frustrated with time travel mechanics in popular media because by nature there's some fallacy involved. We have to go back to the past and change what already happened!
 

Metalmeerkat

As slick as a bad analogy
The parallel multiverse theory solves pretty much every paradox, and follows a consistent logical pattern of the universe. I don't know why people would not just go with that.

Occam's Razor tells me to trust it.

A scientific theory must be falsifiable. I'm not sure parallel universes count.
 
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LizardKing

Guest
Secondary problem:You'd be playing chicken little with something that may destroy the universe under the premise of a theory that has not enough solid evidence to prove you won't destroy reality.

Well reality still seems to be going, so either time travel is impossible and no one ever has or ever will invent one, or it's cool. I haven't heard of anyone turning up at time travel parties either (repeatedly), so I guess not.

Also, I love how some films involving time travel have a sense of urgency and "oh my god we'd better we quick; we're running out of time!". You have a fucking time machine.
 

Metalmeerkat

As slick as a bad analogy
Or maybe our reality is but the fragmented shards of another more ordered, sane universe destroyed by paradox-causing time traveler mischiefs. :V
 

CannonFodder

Resistance is futile! If 0 ohm
Well reality still seems to be going, so either time travel is impossible and no one ever has or ever will invent one, or it's cool. I haven't heard of anyone turning up at time travel parties either (repeatedly), so I guess not.

Also, I love how some films involving time travel have a sense of urgency and "oh my god we'd better we quick; we're running out of time!". You have a fucking time machine.
My guess:
It's impossible.

The downside to if we ever invent time travel: You'd never have a excuse to miss work or be late again.
I just want to point out that time travel isn't about the expense of energy. There isn't a machine that can be built that can do mechanical work of any kind that could cause time travel, nor does energy have any property at all that could do it either...

Admittedly I get way too easily frustrated with time travel mechanics in popular media because by nature there's some fallacy involved. We have to go back to the past and change what already happened!
I'm not talking about a mechanical machine. Even if we somehow made something that could let a person travel back in time the amount of energy needed to someone safely from time point 1 to time point 2 without them being torn to a million pieces, obliterated, vaporized, sliced in half, erased completely, or a million other things exceeds the amount of energy in the universe.

Again I know it's not a mechanical machine sending a person back, but there's a massive difference between sending Idunno a radiowave back in time to warn your deceased firefighter father to take a different route and saving his life and sending a whole person back in time completely intact with all of his limbs intact.
 

Unsilenced

Mentlegen
There are some ways that the universe could be set up such that time travel could work without massive paradoxes or brutal violations of rational thought, explaining them would take up most of a movie, so "shut the fuck up and watch" is probably the best approach.

"Yeah, he's back in time. He can do that. Moving on."

The more you go into detail about the mechanics of it, the more any scientist in the audience will want to fling you into a black hole.

Most conventional time travel though, the kind that makes a duplicate of you for some period, has major problems with the whole paradox thing. Explaining how it avoids those problems is not worth the effort in a story.


Weird way of thinking about it: If we live in a cyclic universe, you could go back in time by flinging yourself extremely far into the future. It would fuck up the natural cycle of the universe, causing it to now alternate between two versions, but it wouldn't cause any paradox except maybe violating conservation of mass. It would also mean that you weren't technically be changing the events of the past so much as you would be preventing them from happening again. Anyone who you left behind would face the full consequences of whatever you went to prevent. Best not to think about it that way.
 

Gryphoneer

20 Quatloos on "disruptive"
Should you care?

Yes, but not because of something that's currently solely of academical interest (at best), but because if the filmmakers can't even keep their made-up processes straight how are they supposed to keep the rest like three-dimensional characterization, highbrow humour and pacing straight?

BTTF and the first two Terminators are honorable exceptions, but seeing as they stem from the time before the race to the bottom kicked into overdrive they're nothing more - exceptions to the rule.

In a time where avaricious pandering to the lowest common denominator has brought Hollywood down to its nadir, enabling guys like Seltzerberg can make more than one movie with impunity, nine times out of ten if you don't think through every last bit of your film the overall quality suffers.

Don't get me wrong, I don't say they should try to entertain the masses with faithful adaptations of Thomas Pynchon or M. John Harrison, just not aggressively, headache-inducingly stupid, Refuge In Vulgarity BS.
 

Kitutal

cute newbie kitten
I didn't see the problem myself, I thought it was quite simple.
Someone went back in time acidentally changed something, then managed to put it near enough right Then, someone else went back, changed something else and the original people, on finding their time changed because of this, then went back and undid the thing that had been changed so that their time was back to how it should have been. Then in the third one they mostly didnt bother undoing things that had changed and just had fun sticking modern people in an old setting, assuming not much would be affected, for some reason.
 

Ikrit

I'm fired up!
i believe every time you time travel, you enter a separate time line

this way people don't just disappear by killing their parents, because in reality, they are not really your parents, but your parents on a separate time line who will now never give birth to you in that time line.
 

M. LeRenard

Is not French
Thinking about the mechanics of time-travel is for physicists. Most physicists have decided it's impossible, and those that think it's possible fall back on this 'parallel universes' idea, which isn't really time-travel anyway, hence indicating that time-travel is impossible.
That is to say, backward time-travel. Forward time-travel is easy. Just go zipping through the galaxy at close to the speed of light for 30 years, stop, turn around, and come on back at the same speed. Since you broke the space-time continuity by accelerating (stopping and turning around), by the time you get back, 30 years have passed for you, but a lot more than that has passed in Earth's rest frame. Larry Niven wrote a book with this idea in mind.

Anyway, just think about this. Let's say you had a tachyon detector (particles that go faster than lightspeed, and hence travel backwards in time) that deploys tachyons once it senses them. Let's say your detector has one tachyon stored it in, and you have it shoot out that tachyon and somehow get that tachyon to boomerang around and go back into the detector. So it arrives five minutes before it was initially launched and hits the detector. But five minutes ago, that tachyon was still in the detector, so by hitting the detector, the tachyon causes the detector to launch itself. But now the timeline says that the tachyon made the detector launch itself, whereas initially you just launched it directly from the detector. But that timeline doesn't exist anymore, so where did the tachyon that triggered the detector come from? No one ever launched it!
And that's about when you just stop thinking about it because you realize it doesn't make any sense, and you just watch the fucking movie.
 

Unsilenced

Mentlegen
i believe every time you time travel, you enter a separate time line

this way people don't just disappear by killing their parents, because in reality, they are not really your parents, but your parents on a separate time line who will now never give birth to you in that time line.

That works basically the same way as my cyclic universe thing, and has the same problem.

Let's say you're in some typical sci-fi plot and holy jesus fuck, the world is about to end because we tried to play god or some shit. Fortunately, you have a time machine that you're going to use to go back and set everything right.

Unfortunately, it's not really taking you back in time. It's just taking you to a time/place that is similar to the past. So when you make your tearful goodbyes, explaining that if you succeed, they'll never even remember you existed, you're full of shit. Really what you've done is flee the universe like a rat from a sinking ship, abandoning everyone else to die horribly.

Way to go, hero. :v
 
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LizardKing

Guest
Thinking too much ruins movies.

That's why I found it hard to enjoy Jurassic Park 3.

Actually I think that's because Jurassic Park 3 was fucking awful. It's not too bad if you skip all the scenes with people talking (people dying or screaming is acceptable).
 

Ikrit

I'm fired up!
That works basically the same way as my cyclic universe thing, and has the same problem.

Let's say you're in some typical sci-fi plot and holy jesus fuck, the world is about to end because we tried to play god or some shit. Fortunately, you have a time machine that you're going to use to go back and set everything right.

Unfortunately, it's not really taking you back in time. It's just taking you to a time/place that is similar to the past. So when you make your tearful goodbyes, explaining that if you succeed, they'll never even remember you existed, you're full of shit. Really what you've done is flee the universe like a rat from a sinking ship, abandoning everyone else to die horribly.

Way to go, hero. :v

what the physicist says: "i'll go back in time and save our world!"
what he is thinking: "time to fuck this universe and get into a better one"
 

Schwimmwagen

Well-Known Member
Actually I think that's because Jurassic Park 3 was fucking awful. It's not too bad if you skip all the scenes with people talking (people dying or screaming is acceptable).

It was fucking awful because you were thinking whilst watching it.

It you only watched it for OMG DINOSAURS (I was 9 years younger, shaddup) it's fine, you got what you wanted, yay. But if you think at all, it's autoshit. Also the dinosaurs in that movie were horribly out of proportion, so knowing that ruined it for me.
 
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