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"Realistic" (?) Time-Travel - Gtx0 ?>


"Realistic" (?) Time-Travel
Posted: Posted April 26th, 2010 by chiarizio
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(Setup to the setup)

This past month I've been reading Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time-Traveler's Wife". (My book-club's next monthly meeting is this coming Wednesday April 28th, and that's this month's selection).

In case you don't know; The guy in the book travels via a circumstance resembling an epileptic seizure. He can't control whether or not to do it nor when to do it; he can't consciously control when nor where he goes to. He apparently has some subconscious control, because he tends to go to almost-the-same places and/or almost-the-same times repeatedly; places and times important to him, that he'd been in in the normal course of his life. (Rarely, he goes to his own future; also, his descendants with the same problem can, through treatment and counseling, sometimes exercise more conscious control then he can, on whether to go, or on destination times and places, or on departure times.)

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(Setup)

Anyway: Whenever and wherever he goes to, he can't take anything outside his own body; nor can he take anything outside his body upon returning. In particular, he can't take his clothes, so his first problem whenever he travels is finding something to wear.

Niffenegger never mentions explicitly what happens to stuff on the topological outside of his body, that is, gastro-intestinal and bladder contents. One would think these would get left behind too. But considering the nausea he usually has just before and just after travel, and also the miscarriage problems his wife has with his children, I would think she thought about it and either just didn't work it out enough to include it in the novel, or just didn't think it was worth including in the novel.

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(my questions)

I think a "more reasonable" kind of time-travel might not allow the traveller to take anything physical, not even his or her own body.

I'm thinking that only the traveller's mind could travel; and it would have to arrive in a younger or older version of his/her body.

Now I know that, "realistically" (that is, to the degree that modern physics even permits it at all and to the degree that any modern physicists have worked out the equations), any wormhole between two spacetime events separated by a spacelike rather than a timelike interval (that is, to get from one to the other via "normal space" would require traveling faster than light), would:
1) Not permit anything bigger than a single subatomic particle to go through; and
2) collapse as soon as anything did go through.

I'm also aware that paradoxes can result from mere information getting from the future to the past.

But assume that we were writing a story in which a person's mind could in fact travel in time from their body at one age to their body at another age, and not necessarily at the usual rate nor even in the usual direction.

How would that work? In the story, that is.

For one thing, how many copies of a person's mind can his/her brain hold?

My thinking is that it would vary depending on the person's health and on the person's age.

My guess is that for the average healthy adult, the number would be around ten. Perhaps ten-and-a-minor-fraction or perhaps nine-and-a-major-fraction. There could be some variability; capacious-brained people might be able to house eleven or twelve copies, abstemious-brained (? is that the right word?) people might be able to house only nine or eight copies.

My guess is that brain-damage would bring that down; maybe permanently as in strokes, maybe temporarily as in some concussions.

Also I'd guess that immature people could house fewer copies. At certain pre-birth stages they might be able to house at most one. When could they house more? Age 18? Age 15? Age 12? Age 8? Age 6? Age 4? or 3? or 2?

And the more complex the mind is the more room it will need in the target brain.

So in fact, traveling to times prior to one's conception or after one's death would be impossible.

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Paradoxes would still be interesting, but they'd be a bit more constrained than for other "time travel" concepts.

When you go back to visit your previous self, does your guest-version take over your body, or is it limited to making suggestions to the version of your mind native/local to that time? Or (and this is not interesting unless it happens only sometimes, in which case it's really interesting) is it limited to observing and gathering information from the local/native version?*

What about when you visit your future self? Can you learn something you can take back to your "present"?

*(This could mean that you could clarify an important piece of memory that was hazy until you knew you needed to clarify it.)

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Could some kind of disasters happen to people who try to exceed their capacity? Maybe only parts of their mind make it back?

There are 7 Replies

Altering the past is naturally impossible, but one might gather information from the past. For the future, you might be looking at some form of advanced foresight.

Posted April 27th, 2010 by Blake
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Blake
 

I attended a lecture given by a guy named Mallett once. He was working on information transfer into the past using groups of laser rings that curve space-time causing the lifetimes of certain short-lived particles to appear to be longer. With a little bit borrowed from Avatar, you might get something like that to work for your mental chronopathy ("chronpathy"?).

Posted April 27th, 2010 by Linguifex
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I think I saw a video on youtube about that Rorschach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRWwI61so5Q
(As a bonus Tom Baker narrates it)

I had this idea before as well chiarizio, well something similar. What differed was that the person could only travel back and would replace their mind previously. I thought of the person performing the action to be at the forefront of time and the only one able to reverse it.

The film The Butterfly affect has someone in it who can do a similar thing to what your suggesting, only they control when they travel back by remembering when they had certain blackouts.

There's also a short story by James Patrick Kelly in my Extreme Science Fiction book called Undone that deals with someone who can reverse time in a similar manner. Suggest you give it a read.

Posted April 27th, 2010 by Lyndon
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Lyndon
 

Altering the past is naturally impossible, but one might gather information from the past. For the future, you might be looking at some form of advanced foresight.
In fact, it might be hard to tell this kind of time-travel from a combination of extremely clear memory plus extremely good foresight.

I attended a lecture given by a guy named Mallett once. He was working on information transfer into the past using groups of laser rings that curve space-time causing the lifetimes of certain short-lived particles to appear to be longer. With a little bit borrowed from Avatar, you might get something like that to work for your mental chronopathy ("chronpathy"?).
Interesting? Or nutjob? Or both or neither or you couldn't be sure?

What differed was that the person could only travel back and would replace their mind previously. I thought of the person performing the action to be at the forefront of time and the only one able to reverse it.
Yes, in "my" version, the traveler-mind doesn't replace the at-home-mind. I took advantage of the saying that "people only use 10% of their brains".
Naturally a person with a large or complex personality but a small brain would be able to visit a given time fewer times than a person with a large brain but a simple or small personality.

The film "The Butterfly Effect" has someone in it who can do a similar thing to what your suggesting, only they control when they travel back by remembering when they had certain blackouts.
In "The Butterfly Effect" the person can "alter the past"; or, actually, can shift to a different alternate universe. Doing so causes nosebleeds and other trauma related to the fact that the new structure of the brain doesn't fit the old one; the notion is that memory actually affects the structure of the brain, to such a degree that altering one's memory of the past actually makes the new brain not match the old supporting structure for it, enough so that there'll be some "minor adjustment effects" along the lines of migraines and cluster headaches and nosebleeds and ringing in the ears and dizziness and so on.
Such effects might also occur with "my" version.

There's also a short story by James Patrick Kelly in my Extreme Science Fiction book called Undone that deals with someone who can reverse time in a similar manner. Suggest you give it a read.
I'd like to. Any additional information?

Posted April 27th, 2010 by chiarizio
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I attended a lecture given by a guy named Mallett once. He was working on information transfer into the past using groups of laser rings that curve space-time causing the lifetimes of certain short-lived particles to appear to be longer. With a little bit borrowed from Avatar, you might get something like that to work for your mental chronopathy ("chronpathy"?).
Interesting? Or nutjob? Or both or neither or you couldn't be sure?

Interesting, and most definitely not nutjob. The YouTube link that Lyndon provided was in fact a video of him. I actually saw that particular special also. If you watch it, you'll hear some talk about his father that you might not understand; the reason he got into time travel in the first place was because his father died at an early age and he wanted to try and save him.

Posted April 27th, 2010 by Linguifex
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I just finished reading “Undone” by James Patrick Kelly.
It was a very good time-travel story.

Posted January 11th, 2019 by chiarizio
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Bump

Posted March 23rd by chiarizio
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