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Solving the Paradox of Time Travel

By: "Vegas Vic" - Victor H Royer

The recent NBC TV show “Timeless” – which is a big hit, and which I like – brought back to my mind the Paradox of Time Travel. This is a scientific and philosophical dilemma, which has been hotly debated over many decades, ever since the concept of the 4th Dimension – time – was postulated by  Euclidean space, and later verified by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Because of the gravitational distortions applicable to space-time, the concept of time-travel is actually scientifically feasible. In fact, a portion of the applicable theory was proven in the 1970’s, when the Space Station monitored the atomic clock, and detected a time-dilation of approximately 1-billionth of a second relative to the time on earth, as the Space Station was flying around the world at over 17,000 miles per hour.

This same concept applies to traveling between the stars. Although the viability of speed greater than light is still in debate, if and when we can build spacecraft that can fly close to the speed of light – which is 186,000 miles per second – the occupants of the space ship will experience time in an entirely different manner. For them, time will be slower, while for the rest of us it will be faster – relative to them. So, while the trip to our nearest neighboring star, Alpha Centauri, may take 4 light years, the time for the crew of the spacecraft will pass slower as the ship travels closer and closer to the speed of light. They will age slower as well. In effect, this crew will be in a time-bubble, relative to the rest of us here, back on earth. So, when they return, to them the flight to Alpha Centauri and back may take only, say 10 years – assuming speed near that of light, but not quite – while here on earth about 100 years will have passed.

Naturally, what I am here describing so far is not nearly the complete story, and may, in fact, not be entirely accurate, since I don’t have all of the necessary stats, nor the inclination to bore you in this story with technical details of these concepts. It’s simply a way to establish some of the parameters of the discussions which scientists, physicists, and philosophers, still undertake today.

But let’s get back to the Paradox of Time Travel.

The simples way to describe what that is, can be demonstrated as follows:

Let’s say that you wanted to travel back in time to kill your parents before you were born. For the sake of this example, let’s not worry about “why” you might want to do that, or any of the “moralistic” reasons for such an act. That’s not the important part of this example.

So, you build a time machine, travel back in time to a point before you were born, and kill your parents. As morbid as this may be, it’s a good way to demonstrate the Paradox of Time Travel, which now means as follows:

  • If you kill your parents before you were born, that means you never existed;
  • If you never existed, then you could not build the time machine;
  • Therefore, you could NOT have traveled back in time to kill your parents.

A good example of this Paradox is shown in the 2002 remake of the movie “The Time Machine”, from the story by H. G. Wells, originally made into a George Pal film in 1960, starring the late actor Rod Taylor.

In this re-telling of the film and story, the time-traveler is motivated to create the time machine when his fiancée is brutally murdered on the night of their engagement. He therefore builds the time machine, and goes back in time to prevent that tragedy. He succeeds, but then the girl is again killed by a runaway cart. So, he goes back in time again, and stops this from happening. But, again, the girl is then killed in a different accident. And so on. Each time our Hero tries to change the past, to save the girl he loves, she dies again, in a different way.

It’s not until later in the movie, when he travels 800,000 years into the future, where he encounters the cannibalistic underworld-dwelling Morlocks, that he learns the reason. The Chief Morlock, who has grown to become basically one giant brain, understands our time-traveling Hero, and explains his problem this way:

“You invented the time machine to travel back in time, to save your fiancée from being murdered,” he says. “But you could never save her. The reason for that is the Paradox of Time Travel. It was her death that inspired you to create and build the Time Machine. Therefore, in order for you to have created that Time Machine, and hence travel back in time, she has to die. If she did NOT die, then you would have never invented the Time Machine in the first place. And that’s the reason why you could not save her life, no matter how many times you traveled back in time to try and save her.” ~ I am, of course, paraphrasing this portion of the film’s dialogue, but the point is accurate.

You see, that’s the dilemma – In the first example, there’s no way you could go back in time and kill your parents before you were born, because you would have never existed, and so couldn’t do that. In the second example, our time-traveling Hero couldn’t save his love because it was her death that precipitated his invention of the Time Machine (in that story).

But is that really the Paradox?

You see, here’s the other problem with this:

In order for the Paradox of Time Travel to be valid, we must exist only in ONE “universe”, and not in a “multiverse.” Our “time-line” must be linear – meaning in one time-line – instead of both linear and lateral. So, if we assume only a uni-verse – meaning ONE – and only a time-line – meaning linear – then, yes, the Paradox of Time Travel can become a problem. However, that problem disappears entirely if we understand the concept of a multi-verse – meaning MORE THAN ONE – plus the concept of lateral as well as linear time. And this, my friends, leads us into the world of the Parallel Multiverse.

In Quantum Physics, and in the String and Super-String Theory, physicists have already postulated multiple dimensions in order to explain away many inconsistencies in these theories. If I recall correctly, in order to reconcile the Super-String Theory, a total of 9 different dimensions had to be postulated. So, if we can accept the possibility of multiple separate dimensions, then it is equally viable to also postulate multiple universes, and hence the fact that we exist NOT only in a uni-verse – just this ONE – but, actually, in a multi-verse, meaning MANY. And this, therefore, makes it possible to have more than one parallel universe.

These Parallel Universes exist in an infinite number of incarnations, along the same space-time continuum. Think of this as a house with many doors. Each door is in the same house, existing at the same time, and functioning in the same way – BUT, each door is in a DIFFERENT ROOM, and opens to a DIFFERENT place. Some of these doors lead to-and-from the same rooms, while others lead to other rooms, and so on, ever farther away from the one door where you started. And, as you go from door-to-door, each new door opens up on a different place and offers different experiences.

As you travel through these doors, and get farther and farther away from where you started, the worlds into which you enter become more and more different. One room may be colder, and another hotter. The next can have many windows, and the next none. The next can have people in it, and the next none. And so on – I’m sure you get the idea.

So, for the principle of a multi-verse, with Parallel Universes each spreading both linearly and laterally, we can now see the possibility of solving the Paradox of Time Travel. For our two examples, that will work like this:

Say that you invented the Time Machine, and wanted to travel back in time to kill your parents before you were born. Now, with the concept of Parallel Universes existing in an infinite variety of a multiverse, this becomes possible – as follows:

You create the Time Machine, go back in time, and kill your parents before you were born. By so doing, you have CHANGED THE ORDER OF EVENTS in THAT universe, and by so doing created a NEW Parallel World, existing in a new and separate Parallel Universe, where YOU continue to exist, but your parents do NOT. In effect you killed your parents in THIS universe, but since you already exist, by changing the order of events in THIS universe, you have – by those acts – opened the door to a new room in that House, and now exist in THAT parallel world, and in THAT parallel universe.

In order to understand this, you must remember that the concept of a parallel universe, and parallel worlds, means that for EVERY instance of EVERY change in OUR timeline, an ALTERNATE reality is created where those events did NOT happen, or happened DIFFERENTLY.

So, as in the TV show “Timeless”, there is a world where the Hindenburg was NOT destroyed on it’s initial landing, but was destroyed later by an anarchist group. Or, that President Lincoln was NOT assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, but – as in the TV show – by an “unknown assailant using an unknown gun.” And so on, for each and every such event.

A world where England won the Revolutionary War of Independence. Or a world where France did NOT have a revolution. Or where the Chicago Cubs won more World Series Championships than the New York Yankees. And so on.

Bearing this in mind, in our second example, from the remake of the movie “The Time Machine”, our Hero WOULD have been able to travel back in time and save his fiancée. Because by so doing, that very act would have created a new parallel world, and a new parallel universe, where he AND his fiancée exist and live happily, AS WELL AS his time machine. Our Hero would have simply invented the Time Machine in OUR universe, where his fiancée was killed on the night of their engagement, and then – after saving her – would continue to exist in a NEW world, where BOTH of these events were factual. By CHANGING THE ORDER OF EVENTS in one universe, that act creates a new and separate universe, and world, existing in the same space-time continuum, but PARALLEL to each other. Just like those doors in that house.

And THAT, my friends, is how we solve and resolve the Paradox of Time Travel.

© Copyright 2016 Victor H Royer. All rights reserved