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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Bye bye Dr Who

This time-travel drivel has to stop. I can put up with the Doctor Whos, and the Back to the Futures, and all the other innocent fantasising, but a line has to be drawn when so-called ‘serious scientists’ start making fools of themselves.

I suppose I’ve the four-year-old granddaughter to thank for bringing the nonsense to my attention. She’d asked my opinion on two Wikipedia articles, respectively about the ‘grandfather paradox’  (appropriately enough) and the so-called ‘Novikov self-consistency principle’. Regrettably  I had no sphygmomanometer in contact at the time with any suitable portion of my body, but I would estimate that my blood-pressure doubled from my starting to read the first of the monstrous articles to my finishing the second. 

For those of you blessedly unfamiliar with the nonsense, let me just say that there are people whose free time is so capacious and whose intellect so in-capacious that they can happily waste both on misguided speculations on the nature of time travel. And what really lit my blue touch-paper was to see that even Hawking has been daft enough to join in. Go back in time, they say, and what is to stop you murdering your grandfather, or performing any one of a million other activities that might have changed the course of history to the point of preventing your own birth. There the supposed ‘paradox’.

Let me make it perfectly clear. Travelling back through time might or might not be possible. Who knows? I think it isn’t, but I might be wrong and that’s beside the point anyway. Let’s suppose it is possible. Let’s further suppose that you travel back to the 14th November 1858, or any other date you care to imagine. What do you think you will find? I can tell you: nothing. Because all of the stuff of the universe (grandfather included) that once existed on the 14th November 1858 is no longer there- it has gone forward in time to now; it is all still where you left it when you pressed the big red ‘go’ button in your time machine or held your nose and jumped down the wormhole or did whatever to trigger your reverse temporal transit.

There's nothing left back in 1858 for you to interact with, and so no paradox.

For those of you still struggling, perhaps a nice analogy will do the trick. Imagine the universe to be a cruise ship heading west across the illimitable ocean of time.  You jump into a helicopter on the ship and head back east a hundred years. What do you see? Nothing, because the ship’s still in the future where you’ve just left it.

So, I’ve had my say. You can carry on with the Doctor Whos etc but on the strict understanding that it’s made-up entertainment. I don’t want to read a single other ‘serious’ word about it.

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