"The future ain't what it used to be."

For SimonB - Paradoxes & Free Will



After much thought and consideration on our discussions regarding paradoxes, free will and the allowances for a pre-determined nature in causality, (which in itself is a bit of an oxymoron is it not), it still comes down to a simple problem I can't get around.

It wasn't easy to arrive at the alleged "simple" problem because your postulations have forced me to consider a multitude of trains of thought that were themselves very complicated at times.


A time traveller visits the past. He does not disrupt the timeline because it was always determined he would make this vist and the results would be whatever they "were", resulting in what now "is". (If I understand your hypothesis correctly.)

In the "present" where he made this descision to take the time trip originally, he never instigates this particular exact same trip to the past again and goes on with his life, maybe taking other trips, maybe not. Either way, one would have to assume he cannot instigate this same EXACT trip to the past more than once, otherwise his now "present" would end there, since he would never procede forward from the time he instigates the trip back.

Does this original trip then become a sort of "causal loop" that exists independent of his current forward progression into space/time? i.e. - He moves on, but there exists this loop that occurs because the past he travelled to, and then left to return to his then present, nonetheless proceeds forward to the time he made the trip in the first place, thereby re-instigating the original loop. Actually, which IS the original loop? The one that originated in the past where he showed up for a while and then left? Or the one that originated with him making the trip in the first place? If that "past" actually existed in the first place as a tangible place for him to travel to from the present, is not that same past now still moving forward until the time he is born, grows up and takes the original trip? (See my adjacent note to James Anthony re: multiversity on this issue.) How is it now possible for him to be moving forward in his daily life while some manifestation of him is stuck in this causal loop from a long past ago he never really lived in and a short past ago when he made a time trip to it?

Does the loop stop when he decides NOT to make the trip again? If the loop stops, did it ever exist?

He either made the trip or he didn't. The scenario eventually leads to the question being unanswerable. A paradox in itself.

Logic does not allow me accept the possibility of time travel in this manner. Even if you put the condition on it that you CANNOT change past events, the trip itself becomes a paradox in it's own right. It forces the concept of multiversity.

I knew my thoughts on this were solid to me anyway, but thanks for setting up a scenario that forced me to think it through again.

See my note to James.
Now I\'m really in a muddle...

Okay so I've just decided against my previous ideas on the multiverse(see my reply to Lee below) but I have to agree with Lee on this causallity loop thing.
I feel it unlikely that the cause of some-one developing a time machine can originate with a visit from their future self. If this is the case then there was no creativity in the formulation of these ideas.

So now I have problems with the multi-verse theory AND the linear theory. Please some-one help me...
Hello, Lee. Thanks for the reply.

Right..Firstly, I agree totally with the problems/holes that you have highlighted. They are big hiccups in the concept and I am not able to theorise around them any more easily than yourself..however..

I may start to go even further out on a limb than I have done previously from this point, but I hope that you won't think that I'm 'cheating' the debate. I believe that my following supposition takes some of the theories that I have voiced further and continues in the spirit of the dialogue that we have set up here..

Right here I go..

As I have said, The problems that you have outlined are indeed very difficult obstacles to overcome. For the first time, I will go as far as saying that perhaps they are impossible for us to overcome..

I am very aware that you don't believe in the possibilty of time travel, because we can't conceive of a theory that doesn't contain some Fundamental 'stumbling block' that throws significant doubt on the premise. Ie..That 'paradoxes' actually disallow the possibilities that are being theorised.

I'm actually beginning to share your problem with the 'theoretical difficulties' concerning this matter, but I feel that I may have come up with a train of thought that backs up your thoughts without also disallowing the possibilty of time travel. This must sound nonsensical and effectively 'paradoxical' in itself, but I'm certain that you'll hear me out..

I must ask you a question.."Do you believe 'time' to be a physical, quantifiable property of the universe, or a property of our perception of the universe?" In other words, does it really exist in 'universal' terms?

Obviously, no Human Being knows the answer to that, but nevertheless, as I have stated before, I am quite attracted to the notion that 'time' is just a matter of our perception and effectively in terms of the universe itself, an illusion.

With this in mind, when we talk about time travel, what are we actually proposing?

We are proposing some method of 'leaping' outside, or beyond etc the normal 'linear' flow of 'time'(our perception) and 'leaping' back in at a different 'historical point'.

So by definition, the very nature of a 'time incursion' is an 'extra linear' undertaking. This is why it is so difficult to conceive ways in which such an 'incursion' could be possible. We are attempting to formulate a method of achieving this 'extra linear' state with a line of thinking that is obviouly firmly rooted in 'linear' terms alone (our perception). No wonder our 'current' understanding of the universe only ever seems to fall short of 'time travelling' possibilities.

This may be diverging from the original debate concerning temporal mechanics, but what if there is a similar problem associated with our understanding of that side of the equation.

Say if 'time' is just our perception of the universe, is it not entirely possible that there are consequenquently processes of the universe that we are unable to perceive with 'time'. Is there not more to the universe than our perception of it??

As I have theorised before, if time is not 'real' in the universal sense, then there is no such thing as 'when'. Every single cause and effect 'ever' would exist simultaeniously if not governed by 'time'.

If we could 'access' this 'true' state of the universe, could we not re-emerge into our normal 'linear perspective' at any point in 'time' that we wished?

What if, through our normal perspective -'time' we simply cannot percieve the full implications of temporal mechanics? If the universe actually exists 'outside' of time, then so too do these 'true' implications that contribute to the overall nature of the universe.

What if...the inherent seemingly impossible situations/paradoxes etc that appear to scupper all current time travel theories, are simply the effect of our inability to percieve the universe on it's own terms. To percieve beyond 'time' and 'see' the full implications.

We see part of the puzzle, but what if the key pieces that form the overall picture are beyond our perception?

What if we see parts that seem to add up to a whole, but when we start to scrutinise the picture, we notice that something doesn't seem quite right?
Some parts don't quite fit properly, or seem to lead to something else that you can't see. It would appear paradoxical, because you thought that you had the whole picture - all the pieces, but somehow, illogically you can't have. Maybe infrared or ultraviolet would reveal a new layer of pieces that join on to all the lose ends and form a much 'truer' picture....you just need to go beyond your natural perception..

I am much more convinced (relatively) by this kind of beautifully simple idea of the universe, and our place in it (whether time travel will ever be possible or not), than one which contains infinate multiple realities, for much the same reasons that you have previously stated.

I mean, an infinate number of multiple realities - why would the universe go to so much trouble to allow beings like us to bugger about in time unnecessarily?? I somehow doubt that the universe exists purely for the amusement of whatever advanced beings may develop within it.

...But then again, maybe it does, who knows??

This is my real standpoint on time travel..I believe that we exist in a universe that we don't 'truly' understand. (How could we claim that we do?) Therefore I am open to the possibilties of time travel etc being parts of physics or whatever, that we maybe can't naturally perceive or understand, but which may be 'reality' in universal terms nevertheless.

For example..

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how the speed of light is constant, no matter at what speed or in which direction the source is travelling.

Anyway, thanks for reading, I look forward to reading your reply..
Re:Re:For SimonB - Paradoxes & Free Will

You are right, of course, and your question regarding time being a physical property vs. an intellectual perception is at the heart of the matter. We truly do not know how to define "time" beyond our ability to describe what we percieve as its effects. An "effect" with an imperceptible "cause" if you will. A moving cart without a *visible* horse pulling it.

This leaves us with no real conclusion regarding time travel except as either something that would involve processes we do not even comprehend, or something that truly cannot be done. Our present understanding is at the level where we can come up with fantasies about what it would be like, but when the logic is followed all the way to "how", we find that it is untenable in any way based on our level of current knowledge.

Will we come to aquire more knowledge in the future? We always do. At the technical level anyway. Our emotional and "spiritual" development seems to be lagging behind our physics however, and even THAT may be part of the problem. (No religiousity intended, just speaking of the manner in which we interact with each other as people. That hasn't grown much in the last several thousand years unfortunately.) If we can ever get more focused as a society of individuals who ultametly have a common goal, we may be able to overcome MANY problems we face, including technological ones that seem insurmountable at present.

Incidently, I too also have a problem with the "constant" of measuring c. I keep my theories within it's realm however since a viable alternative is yet to be accepted. Either c is constant from all frames of reference, or there is a "aether" which was disproven many years ago. And yet...The Dr. James Little theory suggests something very similar to an aether doesn't it. It's just on a more quantum level than the Michealson-Morley experiment disproved.

Bottom line,...
If we knew it all, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics would reconcile. The fact that they don't shows we still have lots of work to do. Stephen Hawking's "Theory of Everything" (the modern term for Unified Field Theory) would be a giant step forward, but we don't even have that yet. We can't even define what Gravity is. Let alone Time.