People love to fantasize about time travel; it is a basis for hundreds, if not thousands of films and books, and many people even spend thousands on trying to do it. Why? Because not only could they become unbelievably rich, they could also change things about their lives that would not only make them richer, but also happier (imagine if you could go back and stop the child version of yourself painting your parents bedroom with mud). But is this what would happen? Would going back in time really change the past? (This is a fairly long article, but there will be biscuits at the end).
There are three main theories on the effects of time travel (at least, there are according to wikipedia); that is, what would happen if you changed something in the past.
Number one is a commonly held one: We can change anything in the past, and this would have impacts on the present/future. For example, someone goes back in time and stops someone from being killed (for example, series one of the new ‘Doctor Who’, where Rose saves her father). There is one serious flaw in this theory however: If this is true, and time travel is possible in the future, why are we still here? Say some maniacal person went back in time and planted a huge bomb that destroyed the entire planet. We would cease to exist (thus you would not be reading this and getting me money!). Then you consider the grandfather paradox: Timmy goes back in time and shoots his grandfather before he met Timmy’s grandmother. Thus Timmy would never exist, so he wouldn’t go back in time to kill his grandfather. So granddad meets grandma, Timmy eventually comes. Then goes back and kills granddad again. Timmy never born And so on. The same applies to the maniacal man with a bomb theory. So it is possible. But another flaw is that what would stop Mr man from the future coming back in time and giving us the tech to time travel? Nothing. Which either means that time travel is impossible, or that the next theory is true.
Number two was originally conceived by, and named after Dr. Igor Dmitrievich Novikov; The Novikov theory. This theory states that whilst time travel may be possible, changing things in the past isn’t. Thus, when Mr maniacal man from future gets bomb and tries to plant, he has changed of heart and throws the thing in a volcano, before promptly going back to his own time. Timmy misses the shot at his granddad, and granddad later tells dad about the day he was nearly shot. And Mr man from future with time travel tech tries to tell people about the tech, but when they want him to test it, it doesn’t work and then people say: ‘That’s not a time travel machine you demented half-wit! Thats a wristwatch!’ And then he gets locked up in a nice padded cell.
A split from number two is that when trying to change things in the past, we create a new universe, with the original having nothing changed in it, and the new one having the change. So Timmy shoots grandad, then goes forward to new universe where he never existed.
In theory three, which is shorter, change is possible, but the time traveller will never see it. (Yup, that’s how clearly wikipedia explained it, more or less)
So which is the correct theory? Well, I personally believe in theory two, because the idea that if someone changed something, which consequently changed themselves, was constantly being done and undone over and over again is too far fetched. Also, what happens to Timmy after he has shot his granddad? He can’t carry on his life, because he won’t exist, so he must just be stuck there forever, which is also very far fetched.
However, if you do believe in theory two, then there is a slight twist I thought up a little while back, which, as far as I know, noone has thought of (at least, wikipedia hasn’t): If you can’t change the past, then surely changing the future is also impossible as well? As our present is in the future of our past (hope you understand what I’m saying) then if we can’t change the past, we can’t change the present or the future.
It’s easiest to understand if you look at it this way: picture a straight line with two arrows pointing at two different points, the one on the left called ‘A’, and the one on the right called ‘B’. The further right you go, the further into the future you go as well. Imagine that our present is point ‘B’, and point ‘A’ is something in our past. According to theory two, we can’t change point ‘A’ as it’s already happened. But then, what if we say that point ‘A’ is our present? The same rule must apply, with point ‘A’ being unchangeable, as it would affect point ‘B’.
Basically, our present is the past of our future, as in for a future us, it has already happened, even if it hasn’t happened to our present form. This must mean that the future is unchangeable, so our lives are on a set track that we can’t change. Thus (to quote old films) free choice is merely an illusion. (In the words of the ever great ‘Portal’: The cake is a lie! And it always will be!). So forget tossing a coin: it isn’t at all fair, as the outcome is predetermined.
I hope you liked reading this article, as much as I will enjoy the cash I get from it! I would be interested to see your opinions about it, and I hope I haven’t made your head explode (who will do the cleaning up?).