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Time Travel 1191

Almost Anonymous writes "Ronald Mallett, a physicist at the University of Connecticut, believes he knows how to build a time machine - an actual device that could send something or someone from the future to the past, or vice versa. He plans to have a working mockup this fall. For all those doubters, he assures people that "I'm not a nut"." Uh-huh.
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Time Travel

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  • Hey Doc (Score:3, Funny)

    by superx22x ( 570546 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:35AM (#3297908)
    Where do you find the Plutonium, and the Flux copacitor.

    Also can you maybe make it out of, oh i dont know, a ferrari?
  • by naoursla ( 99850 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:35AM (#3297909) Homepage Journal
    It is interesting that he wants to focus light in ways to distort space time. The recent time machine movie alluded to just that technique. Maybe he will go into the future, see a bunch of canabalistic humans then try to come back to warn us but over-shoot the mark and end up talking to HG Wells.
    • Canibalism makes perfect sense. If the purpose of one's life is to
      pass on the better genes, then it makes sense if those with better genes
      are able to hunt/manipulate those inferrior ones.

      If it is all about passing genes, and continuing the survival of the fittest,
      then there is no need to distinguish lesser humans from other species.

      As we exhaust or natural food resources (assuming we can't somehow control our
      population through nukes or disease, or if we don't find other planets to host
      the exploding population.) then it is OK to eat weaker humans.

      As long as we abide by the rules of nature, and only consume each other, based
      on strnegth and intelligence (i.e. no bias, based on superficial criteria like
      religion or nationalism.)

  • Umm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ByteHog ( 247706 ) <> on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:37AM (#3297915) Homepage
    Define "Working Mockup" :)
  • by Silver222 ( 452093 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:40AM (#3297918)
    While Mallett acknowledges that sending a person through time may require more energy than physicists today know how to harness, he sees it merely as "an engineering problem."

    Oh, just an engineering problem. That's great. Maybe after Mallett perfects time travel, he can get to work on cold fusion and a perpetual motion machine.

    By the way, that reminds me of the Simpsons where Lisa builds a perpetual motion machine, and shows Homer. Homer gets mad and yells, "Lisa, in this house we obey the Laws of Thermodynamics!!"

    I guess this guy doesn't have a Homer to yell at him.

    • >> While Mallett acknowledges that sending a person through time may require more energy than physicists today know how to harness, he sees it merely as "an engineering problem."

      > Oh, just an engineering problem. That's great. Maybe after Mallett perfects time travel, he can get to work on cold fusion and a perpetual motion machine.

      Actually, I solved cold fusion last Tuesday. Unfortunately it involves "more energy than physicists today know how to harness, [but it's] merely an engineering problem." So that's alright then. Where do I collect my Nobel Prize?
  • hey... (Score:4, Funny)

    by DanThe1Man ( 46872 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:41AM (#3297922)
    If he has a working model nexy fall, why dosn't he just send it back to our time so we have it now?
    • Some scientific theories dealing with time travel have the restriction that apparently you can't go back in time to before the invention of the time machine. I don't understand why, so don't ask me.

      This would also mean that humanity is the most advanced species in the universe, since otherwise some aliens would have invented time travel before us and he would be able to bring his time machine back to the present day.

      • Re:hey... (Score:2, Informative)

        by $uperjay ( 263648 )
        It's because in some theories of time travel, you get younger as you go back. This (sort of) gets around the meeting-yourself problem, as well as not horribly screwing up thermodynamics, because it conserves the amount of matter and energy in the universe (by not making duplicates of you). This has a few implications, if it is true:
        • You and your time machine had better stay put for a while, or you'll end up moving to where you were at the target time when you timetravel.
        • You'd better hope that your time machine is younger than you, or you might time travel to before you were born - and there's not a heck of a lot you can do when you're just a sperm and an egg!
        • You probably won't remember anything, because your brain will return to its prior state when you travel back in time. Bad!
        • Should you go back in time and then scuttle your time machine or otherwise prevent yourself from time-traveling back, icky bad stuff will happen!
        • Finally, since you and everything around you will be exactly as it was at the target time, you probably won't change anything at all - because you won't even know you've gone back in time!
        All these effects, in sum, make time travel pretty useless. S'not a great theory in my boat, actually.
      • Re:hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tftp ( 111690 )
        Some scientific theories dealing with time travel have the restriction that apparently you can't go back in time to before the invention of the time machine. I don't understand why, so don't ask me.

        If you could go back in time before the time machine has been built, then you could build it using your knowledge, and then the original condition of "no time machine before such and such date" would be invalid. Therefore, the theory that you could go back is proven to be incorrect.

        In other words, for any machine construction date D the actual construction date can be D-1 or earlier, going back forever. That's probably why you can't go back before the invention date - remaining on the same timeline, at least.

        • Re:hey... (Score:3, Informative)

          by PhuCknuT ( 1703 )
          Until someone has a real working model, this isn't really proof, but the reason that they say you can't go back to before the time machine was built, is that you need a time machine at both ends of the connection. If time travel requires wormholes, and opening one requires a machine at both ends, then it becomes obvious why you can't go back to before the machines exist.
      • if you go back and forward in time it creates a new sub dimensions, it doesnt mean youll go back to our time, or into our future, but a mirror future

        meaning when you build a time machine A you could get flooded by aliens from the future
        B you could go to one of many possible futures
        C you may create a mirror future or past but on a totally diffrent plane

        meaning youll go to the past which may always be the same but the future will be one of many possible futures
    • It appears that you, like the editors and submitter, did not understand more than two words from the article (and unfortunately, those two words are the most likely to invite ridicule). I suggest you look at the writeup on Ars Technica (one of the sources that offer a preview of the news that will appear on slashdot) for a good description of what's going on.
    • Re:hey... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blackwizard ( 62282 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:17AM (#3298098)
      They talk briefly in the article about 'time paradoxes' -- he claims the time travelers would continue to exists in a 'parallel universe'. I would speculate that he can't do what you suggest because the instant someone actually uses the thing to go backwards in time, they create a parallel universe. So if he did that, he would be giving it to himself in some other universe -- not this one. Ironically, it would also kind of defeat the purpose of going back in time to warn his father about smoking -- he would still die in the timeline that he normally exists in, although his dad might live longer in the parallel universe created by his time travel. If you believe this theory, then it's also interesting to note that the only 'real' universe is the one that nobody has time traveled to! And if you believe that, then you might have a hard time testing your time machine -- what happens to that matter that was in the current universe but is now in some other 'parallel' universe? There are still a lot of problems with this. =)
      • Re:hey... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kintanon ( 65528 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:26AM (#3298134) Homepage Journal
        Some people (me included) hold with the theory that evrey possible permutation of the universe exists simultaneously. So each possible situation exists in some paralel universe/timestream. So if you developed a way to skip between Universes/timestreams at will then you could theoretically visit a place/time where things were just like they are now, except all of the flors are color shifted a few degrees on the visual spectrum.>:)
        Or what have you. Kind of a Sliders type of universe setup.

  • Poignant. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:41AM (#3297923) Homepage
    Whatever the viability of his claim, his motives are poignant - he wants to go back in time and warn his father, who died of cancer when he was 10, of the danger of cigarettes.

    I have no idea how physicists approach the question of the creation of a contrafactual timeline which removes its own motive for existing (if his father lived, then he wouldn't create the time machine, and thus etc. etc.) But I think this is more interesting, if tragic, as a story of a man who still misses his father than as a viable line of research.

    • Our emotions and primitive instincts influence our thinking.

      Do you know how many of your choices were influenced by "sex" or "hunger"?

    • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @05:22AM (#3298262) Homepage
      he wants to go back in time and warn his father, who died of cancer when he was 10, of the danger of cigarettes.

      My God. A 10 year-old died of cancer? From smoking cigarettes? And this 10 year-old fathered a son before dying? And that son is now trying to build a time machine? What the hell kind of genes are running in this family???

      • My God. A 10 year-old died of cancer? From smoking cigarettes? And this 10 year-old fathered a son before dying?

        "You obviously don't know Newfies" - Judi Dench as Agnis Hamm in "The Shipping News".
  • If I thought I could build a time maching, I sure as hell wouldn't tell anyone about it. I'd be using it for my own personal advantage, and maybe "for the good of mankind" after I have gone back to the 70's and bought a few thousand shares of Berkshire Hathaway [] stock.

  • ...or a nut that's a little fruity. C'mon, any 15-year-old who daydreamed in math class knows that we will NEVER be able to send people back in time, for the simple reason that we'd have met them already.

    And what about the ethics of changing history?

    There would be government laws to control time travel, he believes

    Can we get Sen. Hollings on this?
    • we will NEVER be able to send people back in time, for the simple reason that we'd have met them already.

      Maybe we have...

    • C'mon, any 15-year-old who daydreamed in math class knows that we will NEVER be able to send people back in time, for the simple reason that we'd have met them already.

      Unless you subscribe to the theory that multiple parallel universes exist, in which case the time travelers wouldn't be traveling back to meet us, they would travel to a parallel universe. That way we wouldn't see them, and they couldn't affect their own past and cause nasty time paradoxes (paradoxen?).

    • C'mon, any 15-year-old who daydreamed in math class knows that we will NEVER be able to send people back in time, for the simple reason that we'd have met them already.

      That is not true at all. We haven't met any time travelers because you can not send anything back to before the machine is built. To go back 10 years you need to run a time machine for at least 10 years. All that is happening is that it opens a wormhole to itself, you can not just open one to any time in the past. (This might sound like sci-fi BS, but this comes from actual scientists)
  • Are available here. []
    • Heh...check out their Warehouse Tour... []

      Our new Houston facility is scheduled for completion later this year. These images depict how we are getting ready for that big move, so we can bring the our excellent service one step closer to you at our new facility in Houston.

      Followed by fourteen beautiful photographs And crushed boxes. And crates. And pallets. And assoted pipes and other oddments that might be identifiable if the pictures had been taken with something besides a $20 OfficeMax Special digital camera...

      Some employees have way too much time on their hands... ;)


  • by D_Gr8_BoB ( 136268 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:43AM (#3297939)
    Say someone in the future develops a time machine using some newly discovered way of exploiting a loophole in the laws of physics. Such a machine would almost certainly be used to travel into the past. And yet in the present, no time travelers from the future have been observed.

    I have much more faith in the possibility that a time machine is impossible to construct than the possibility that all time travelers in the future will be so careful that no one will notice them.
    • There are a number of ways to resolve this apparent paradox. While I'm not claiming that any of these are for real, like all speculations they are not easily dismissed either.

      First of all I assume by "someone in the future" you mean a human on earth. In this case, one of the simplest ways to avoid the future time travelers paradox is to posit that a backwards time travel of N years must physically be accompanied by a spatial displacement of more than N light years. That way, nobody who travels back in time can interact with anything affecting their own past, since they can't interact outside of their light cone.

      Another way out of the time travel paradox is to adopt the "parallel universes" viewpoint put forth in the article, and provide some mechanism for explaining why we always stay in the one universe out of these that has not seen time travelers.

      Finally, if by someone in the future you mean aliens from somewhere other than earth, then this problem is also easy to resolve: since we have not seen any aliens at all (roswell notwithstanding), it's unreasonable to expect to find alien time travelers.

      • I like the parallel universes explanation mself, but it doesn't solve this. So we won't see any time travelers, fine. Where the hell are all the extra-dimensional sliders coming here for a tour of Bizarro-Earth? "Look folks, on your right, we have the earth where Dubya actually beame president of the united states! As you can see, even the weirdest, most retarded things can happen here..."
    • What do you think UFOs are? ;)
    • That at least is covered by the reference to parallel timelines. From our timeline, we'll call it Alpha, time travel would seem like a quick trip to oblivion. A time traveller in Alpha steps into the circle of light or whatever and dissapears. No one from timeline Alpha will ever see him or her again. Of course in timeline Beta someone just appeared out of nowhere and they have plenty of reason to believe time travel is possible. Except that from their point of view their time machine will work the same way. You step in and disappear.

      In fact thinking about it if this view of time travel is true and workable it would almost seem like a wacked out cult. A person appears and claims to be from the future. They either have schematics for a time machine or they inspire development of one. (We'll ignore they likely outcome that any visitor from the future is locked up with all the Thorazine they'll ever want for the purpose of this discussion). When the machine is built it can't be proven to work. The best evidence any timeline will ever have is one visitor. Would you trust the word of a possible nut ball and step into something that makes matter disappear? I think only borderline psychotics would be nervy enough to do so. Which suggests that the time traveller would be kind of kooky to begin with.
    • by xX_sticky_Xx ( 526967 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:20AM (#3298112) Homepage Journal
      That the professor is a time traveller?
  • So I'll believe it when I see it. If he is correct then we'll all be readinig about it next fall then. Thats settled then, I'll go back to what I was, will go do what I'm about to be doing rather.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This could be a first post!
  • Irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ROBOKATZ ( 211768 )
    The inspiration for working on time travel came from his secret desire to go back in time and warn his father to quit smoking, as his father died when he was 10 years old.

    So say he builds his time machine, goes back in time, and saves his father. Now he did that in a "parallel universe" (according to the article), and so now in this universe he doesn't invent time travel because his father is alive.

    In conclusion: this man will not invent time travel, because if he does, it must only happen in a parallel universe.

  • ...if he really can build a time machine, then he doesn't have to. All he needs to do is wait for his future self to beam back the machine and viola! He's got a time machine. Which he can then beam back to himself.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha" (monotone computer-synthesized voice)

    - Stephen Hawking
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gangis ( 310282 )
    As far as I know, it's possible to go FORWARD in time, since the faster you are to the speed of light, the slower the time around you. I once read that they took an atomic clock on one of the Concorde supersonic planes, and another one on the ground, and there was a time dilation of 0.0003 (or something like that) nanoseconds. If you could find a way to go even 99.999% the speed of light, you'd age only a few days while the sun's entering it's Red Giant phase. Or something like that.
  • by 0xB ( 568582 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:50AM (#3297981)

    Hasn't this story been posted before?
  • by Anonymous DWord ( 466154 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:52AM (#3297996) Homepage
    For most of his career, however, Mallett kept secret that his desire for time travel had drawn him to become a physicist. It wasn't until a few years ago, when he began researching a book on the topic, that he arrived at his idea of how to build a time machine.

    Seems to me that's a great reason to become a physicist. Imagine what kind of creativity we could produce if the reply to something like that was "Cool! Here's some books to help you," rather than "You're crazy. That can't happen, so go do something else."
    • I agree. We need people like this to help advance science. Sure, most of 'em are crackpots -- but occasionally, a crackpot turns out to be a genius. And even failed experiments can provide useful data that might suggest new courses of research.

      Too often, in the world of science, "legitimate" research means "conventional" research; conventional research is safe, and not likely to a) make you a laughingstock, or b) cost you your job. We need wild-eyed speculators out there on the edge to keep everybody else busy debunking.

      Also, they make great mad scientists. I bet there's a limited-enrollment course at most universities, "Maniacal Cackling 101," professorial nomination prerequisite. BWA HA HA!
  • by Cogos ( 310453 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:53AM (#3298001)

    According to the quote in the article there is a big flaw in the plan"If his idea pans out, won't there be a host of potential paradoxes, such as time travelers killing their parents and making it impossible for them to exist? No, he says, explaining that those travelers would continue to exist in a ''parallel universe.''

    In other words, anyone or anything sent into the past create some sort of parallel universe. Which means we will never see any evidence that the time machine works. At best he'll be able to create an effect where you toss something in and it disappears. Sounds to me like a great way to get rid of garbage but a less than ideal way to travel.

    Of course there should also be plenty of parallel universes where stray neutrons, lab rats, and grad students will appear out of no where. THOSE timelines will have proof time travel works. But unless that happens I'm not getting into any so called time machine.

    • THOSE timelines will have proof time travel works. But unless that happens I'm not getting into any so called time machine.

      Dude, I just want to point out that you're seriously considering under what circumstances you'd get into A FUCKING TIME MACHINE.

    • Hey, I have one of these! Aparrently someone else built the thing and disguised it as my washing machine and dryer. I wonder if it was him... and if it was... why in the hell did he build it into a washer and dryer?

      Somewhere... out there... in a parallel universe... people get free socks out of thin air. Of course, these socks are always half of a pair. It's not possible to send both socks in a pair into one of these parallel universes. I'm not sure which law of physics this would falls under.

      I wonder... if I tied a string to a pair of socks... and one went into the parallel universe and the other remained in my dryer... where would the string lead to? Oh well... I'll leave the string theories to the experts. ;)

      • Dude... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @05:40AM (#3298308) Homepage Journal
        I wonder... if I tied a string to a pair of socks... and one went into the parallel universe and the other remained in my dryer... where would the string lead to?

        You have to promise me that you'll never do that. You could end up ripping a hole in the space/time continuum! Who knows what could happen! All the socks that ever disappeared could simultaneously materialize in your dryer! Can you imagine the devistation it would cause?

  • First Post! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stealth Dave ( 189726 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:54AM (#3298006) Homepage
    Okay, maybe not right now, but when I get my hands on that time machine, I'll be able to make First Post on every Slashdot story ever posted! I will be l33t beyond imagination! Muwhahahaha!!!

    - Stealth Dave
  • Then wouldn't we be occasionally running into strange looking people from the future who are here to accomplish various tasks?
  • by Herak ( 557381 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:58AM (#3298024)
    Alright guys...

    One of us has got to dress up like Ronald Mallett-- all out, with a mask and everything, plus a scorched labcoat and frizzy hair-- and show up at his doorstep.

    Slashdotter: Ron! Ron, it's me, your future self! You must listen to me!

    Ronald Mallett: Who... who are you? You look like me!

    /.er: Listen to me. DO NOT build the time travel device! You'll ruin everything! You must understand-- the fabric of spacetime will tear! The universe will be doomed!!

    RM: How do I know you're really me, and not a robot imposter from the future?


    Better yet, we can send him an "aged" letter from himself postmarked April 6th, 1843. *evil grin*

  • We can assert he is a failure because if he was successful, his future-self would have visited him and congratulated him on his success, and his dead father would have risen from his grave to promptly bash him on the head for meddling in God's power.

    Thus, I submit this is old news because it's not from the future, which is now considered the only "new" news, and slashdot should be sent to the parallel universe this wacko keeps yammering on about.
  • Food for thought (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueJay465 ( 216717 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:06AM (#3298061)
    Time travel is not a new concept, obviously. Time machines have been invented and successfully used for some time now. However, the reason we haven't seen any successful results of them, is that time protects itself from tampering.

    If Professor A creates a time machine, and uses it to travel back to the past to alter a certain event, say preventing JFK from getting shot. He may effect the timeline, but he will create a branch at the same time. He will continue along that branch and reality forever.

    The rest of us on the main trunk will never see that effect that professor A had on the past, since history has already been written for us. Professor A has been lost forever since he will be living in the history he has created.

    You could go back in time, but you will never be able to return to THIS reality. That would be the paradox.
  • "Been there, done that..."
  • by wickidpisa ( 41827 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:09AM (#3298076) Homepage
    Time travel isn't that big a deal, I mean come on, when you can get a book on How To Build a Time Machine [] at your local bookstore why are people so amazed at this? The book is real, and it is a serious book (it is not to be confused with the children's book with the same title published previously). The author explains that we know how to travel through time, it is just really expensive at this point. It is a budgetry problem, not a science problem.
    • by anshil ( 302405 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:24AM (#3298128) Homepage
      Travelling into the future is no big deal, only technical. theoretically just jump to near light speed a short while, jump back and thousend years will have passed on earth.

      However travelling into the past _is_ a big deal, as it questions a lot of physical fundamentals. What about energy conservation? Would the energy of the matter vanish out of the present? Would it pop out in the past. The particle of course already existed in the past, will exist then twice there? As I've now in the past two times the enery of the particle, have I created new energy?

      Simply take a machine that transports a neuron back a second in time, 2 Neurons will exist then in a second before, put the time machine will still run there "a second time", so 3 Neuron will exist a second before, a second later the time machine will again send a neuron back a secnd. 4 Neurons will exist, so on and so on.

      Is the ener
    • You *know* you're a nerd when your local bookshop ends in .com.

      (It's a joke, give me -1 Unfunny rather than -1 Offtopic ;-)

  • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:16AM (#3298091) Homepage
    Assuming that an object can travel backwards in time, it does it relative to a reference systems. What would that reference system be ? The Sun ? The center of the galaxy ? The center of the universe ? I definitely don't like the idea of being teleported into dark, empty space.

    Well, it could be the machine, but that means you can only go back to the moment when the machine started funtioning. So I don't really buy the father thing. (April 1st joke, I guess)


  • ...he could come and give the machine to himself today and save us all the wait.
  • I always thought eventually time travel will be possible, except you can only go forward in time. Otherwise we'd have seen a machine sent back from the future already.

    Come to think of it, we're traveling forward through time right now, so maybe I'm not as smart as you look.

    Remind me not to post while drunk. (Apparantly you will have to travel through time to do that now.)
  • OK, so Mr Wizard goes back in time and warns his father not to smoke.

    So his father quits smoking.

    So he doesn't die.

    So Mr Wizard has no incentive to invent a time machine - thus never inventing it, thus never traveling back in time to warn his father, who continues to smoke, and dies of cancer when Mr Wizard is ten years old, motivating him to invent a time machine and go back into time to save his father...

    Mr Wizard should forget this craziness and concentrate on his true passion: Dance, Dance, DANCE!

  • And he'll no doubt travel into the future where he'll find a utopia based on the principles of Be excellent to each other and Party on dudes!.
  • Analog time machines suck. HG Wells showed us that. I mean look at it, you just sit down and play with a few levers. The Delorean time machine though... digital, and it could fly!
  • wasnt this already posted
  • exactly how in the hell was this article posted at 2:30 anyway?

    2:00am - 3:00am didn't happen today...

    maybe it was the time machine...
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @04:36AM (#3298161) Homepage Journal
    "The second particle would be the first one visiting itself from the future."

    I see two problems with this:

    1.) What would keep the particle appearing in the future from appearing in the same spot? Seems like they'd try to occupy the same space..

    2.) how will they know it's the same particle? Guage it's spin maybe?

    Im concerned that the experiment could produce positive results, but not positively. Kind of like that fusion bubbles thing not too long ago.

    Here's a question though: Is it possible this could be a new way to harness energy? Imagine reclaiming energy from the past...
  • There's an interesting article at Howstuffworks here [] that discusses how time travel works.

    It discusses some interesting points as to why time travel wouldn't work, including the grandfather paradox, the notion of parallel universes, etc.
  • by Scratch-O-Matic ( 245992 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @06:55AM (#3298489)
    There are many unspeakable horrors that await us if we begin to monkey with this technology; many bizarre paradoxes that we can't predict or even comprehend.

    For instance, what if we use a time machine to travel back to the 70's, then we return to the present day. Everything appears normal, but then we go to download some pr0n, and all we can find is cheesey 70's pr0n with bad soundtracks and mediocre women. AAaarrrrgggghhhhh!
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <> on Sunday April 07, 2002 @07:57AM (#3298608) Journal
    I can definitely prove without a doubt, that in 2009, time travel was perfected. So, remembering the slashdot article that inspired me, I decided to come back and let you guys know, so that we could end this silly debate.

    Bonus: Intel is going to announce something new on April 15th that will totally kick ass. Look for the share price to jump $50 in the following 2 months.

    Note to the SEC: This is a joke, so don't you dare try to prosecute, you asswads.
  • I have what I think amounts to an interesting theory disproving any possibility of time travel. Perhaps somebody else has already brought this up (not necessarily on Slashdot), but here goes.

    I believe that, in this case, "absence of evidence is evidence of absence". In other words, the fact that we don't already know about time travel is evidence that time travel will never be possible. This gets confusing quickly, but if time travel ever becomes possible, somebody will surely travel to what is our past. While early attempts might be "covert" (a la "Back to the Future") to prevent altering the future, this could only be successful for so long. Even if attempts continued to be made to keep it a secret, somebody at some point would have either told somebody that they met in the past or there would have been rumors or something.

    But all references that we hear to the possibility of time travel are based in the future, such as this story about a guy who's "going to do it". Of course, we all know he will fail, because otherwise, we would have already known of his success. At the very least, if he was to ever be successful, we would not be living in a world where he was trying to travel in time to save his dad from cigarettes, but rather in a world where his dad had been saved from cigarettes by his son.

    In fact, if time travel were to ever be successful, we would have always known about it, and the quest for time travel would not exist.

    It gets more interesting and more confusing as you think about it...

  • by Jay L ( 74152 ) <.mf.yaj. .ta. .hsals+yaj.> on Sunday April 07, 2002 @02:39PM (#3299746) Homepage
    As we all know, Slashdot is mostly about a bunch of geeks arguing about topics they don't really know about but claim to be experts on. (And yes, I include myself in that group for most values of "topic".)

    This article is about time travel. None of us are in the field. None of us have done it. None of us have seen anyone else do it. Few, if any, of us have read a single front-to-back thesis on which the proto-science is based, or anything else more detailed than SciAm. Yet the thread now has SEVEN HUNDRED COMMENTS, filled with the usual "I hate to introduce facts into the conversation" and "No, no, you just don't get how it works!"

    It doesn't get any better than this.
  • by bobdole369 ( 267463 ) <> on Sunday April 07, 2002 @03:46PM (#3300006) Homepage
    OK, say you manage to travel through time, via a device located on earth. When you exit, time has passed, or (the opposite) and suddenly you end up in space, alone and unprotected. Why? simply because the earth is NOT in the same place you left it. The revolution of the earth around the sun has occured, and the rotation of the earth around its axis has occured, and the movement of our sun through the galaxy has occured, and the movement of our galaxy has occured, and so on. Therefore any time machine must also be a translocation machine like a transporter in star trek speak. Also it must compute all these variables to place you back at the correct place.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein