Time-Travel 1.0: A Post-Mortem

In order to ensure that my second round of experimentation is constructive, it is useful to examine the conclusion of the first run of time-travel experiments in greater detail.

There are several possibilities why my attempts to contact time-travelers failed. The first few have been discussed a great deal already, so I will discuss them briefly.

1.      Alternate timelines: It is possible that when a time-traveler goes into the past, their actions to alter the past create tangential timelines. The original timeline, in which they did not appear to alter events, remains. My main objection to this hypothesis was that my actions, by inviting a time-traveler to come to visit, have already created this chain of events.  In other words, the cause of the time-traveler’s actions- my invitation- remains in timeline A, so it follows that the effect of the invitation would also occur in timeline A instead of timeline B.

There is another, less-often discussed objection to the alternate timelines hypothesis, and that is because time-travelers (from their perspective) have unlimited time in which to meddle, the number if alternate timelines they have the capacity to create is without limit. Only the prime timeline will be free from encounters with time-travelers, and the possibility that we live in that timeline is infinitesimal. Practically speaking, there is no way for me to control for the alternate-timeline possibility experimentally (if I am wrong about this, please let me know.)

 

2.      The temporal prime-directive: In my initial assessment of the temporal prime-directive, I was dismissive due to the fact that rules are not airtight- people, given enough time, find reasons to bend or break rules. A time gate, or a Chronology Protection Agency, will also be broken eventually if created by people- even if these people are godlike. After all, the people trying to break the time gate will likely also be godlike, if this is the case.

 

I assign a higher probability to the idea that nature itself acts as a time gate. The laws of physics appear to have put a hard limit on speed at 186,000 miles per second, and they have surrounded stable singularities with lovely little event horizons, and I think that these types of limits would be far more difficult for people to crack, unless we transform ourselves into specific sub-atomic particles. (It would be really awesome to find a way to communicate with sentient sub-atomic particles. Perhaps we could do this with the clever use of time-crystals? Or maybe we just need to do the same thing we’ve been doing with SETI, and look for pulses of prime numbers amongst radio noise.)

 

3.      Informational noise: The informational noise hypothesis has been less-discussed. Anything that can be communicated, measured, and described in any quantitative or qualitative manner can be considered information, and as long as time and entropy exist, new information will be generated and subsequently lost. The information generated so far is finite, since the age of the universe is finite. But if time-travel happens, then time is no longer finite. From the time-traveler’s perspective, the amount of time that the time-traveler has to gather information is infinite, and the amount of new information that they can generate within their own timeline and by re-visiting and changing the past is infinite.

 

Therefore, the information that the time-traveler has access to and the time in which the time-traveler has to access said information is 1:1.

 

                    <——*———*———-*——>

                    <——*———*———-*——>

 

This remains true whether the timeline branches into a tangent when new information is generated or not.

 

4.      Unimportance: Even if a time-traveler could find the information I’ve generated amongst the noise, they have the whole of time and space to explore. I’m probably not cool enough to warrant a visit. Perhaps even a person we call a giant in our own time, such as Stephen Hawking, is not cool in a cosmic sense. Greater minds are sure to come in the future; even if humanity destroys itself, another more brilliant species will surely replace us, even if we don’t have infinite time to work with. We have a LOT of time to work with, and if a civilization gets access to time-travel, then they can generate people infinitely cooler than anyone I’ve ever known or heard of.

 

5.      Information degradation or sabotage: I dismissed this possibility in my initial conclusion, as well, because there was a window of time in which I could observe my information remain unchanged, and that should be enough time for a time-traveler to access it. However, if time-travel invitations are going to have a better chance of being noticed among all of the informational noise, then the invitation should be available at as many points on the timeline as possible.

 

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has been searching for aliens for a very short period of time- a blink of the eye, in the cosmic sense. Yet the question remains; if extraterrestrial intelligence can arise, why haven’t we found aliens, yet? It’s difficult to work out exactly how likely it is for intelligent life to arise, since we only have one example in one place from which to extrapolate, and so we continue to search. Likewise, it’s difficult to work out how likely we are to encounter a time-traveler, or to gain the ability to time-travel, so the only thing to do is keep looking. I’ve conducted my first practical experiment on time-travel, and the results have given me a lot to think about for the next experiment

 

I consider the lack of data on my first time-travel experiment to be invaluable. I’ll see you in the future, better prepared and a little bit wiser.

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