Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time Travel - A Different Direction?

If the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is the suburban Wal-Mart of theories about what the UFO phenomenon might represent, then time travel is the small boutique shop that's still in business downtown. Sure, it doesn't get a lot of attention, but it's got some pretty cool stuff to look at nonetheless.

Is time travel possible? Some of our smartest scientists tell us that yes, indeed, it is possible, although not for us, given the amount of energy it would take. Michio Kaku is one of the most prominent exponents of the idea that time travel could happen... someday.

Here's the thing, however - Kaku, and almost anyone else who discusses time travel as a possibility, talks about it from the persective of someone coming to our time from the future.

Things are usually no different when time travel is applied as an explanation for UFOs. It almost always comes from the same perspective - that our descendents are coming back in time to observe / interact with us.

But that creates all sorts of potential paradoxes.

Now, there may be answers to the various paradoxes that would result, but even supporters of the idea that you can travel back in time admit that it would be risky. What if you screwed up, and somehow changed all of existence?

Sure, you would wind up safe and sound in a newly created parallel universe, but there's no guarantee that any of your loved ones would still be around. Going back in time to kill Hitler and prevent the rise of the Nazis, for example, seems like a good idea, but there's no guarantee that the new world you would create would be any better. Who knows? Maybe it would be worse. One thing you could pretty much guarantee is that everything you knew would be different, or gone.

No thanks.

So even on a theoretical level, I don't buy the idea that people are traveling back in time, for any reason.

But what about people traveling forward in time?

That's an entirely different proposition, because there's no risk of altering your reality, so there are no paradoxes to worry about.

But if we don't have the technology to travel in time now, nor can we reasonably imagine having it any time soon, then how could someone in our past travel forward to our time?

The answer is that they couldn't - not from our past, as we know it. But here's the thing - our knowledge of the past is pretty dodgy. We still don't know everything that happened within the 20th century. We know even less about what happened two thousand years ago.

One hundred thousand years ago? One million years ago? One hundred millions years ago!

We might like to think we know how everything happened, but we don't. Anyone who tells you that we would definitely be able to detect remnants of a civilization that inhabited the Earth a million years ago is dreaming - particularly if that civilization was sufficiently advanced to have taken on a different form from ours, and then suffered some calamity that wiped it out. 

What if there was, as some people have speculated, and as legend would have it, a civilization on this planet that pre-dates our own, one that was indeed highly advanced, to the point where it had figured out how to travel through time? Maybe human, or maybe something else... post-human, perhaps.

So let me throw a scenario out there for you, as a thought experiment if nothing else.

One billion years ago (just picking a number), a non-human civilization arose on this planet that advanced far beyond our own, to the point where their existence was in essence virtual, not physical. At some point, they merged into a single consciousness.

With their combined intellect, they eventually discovered how to travel in time, and possessed the power to make it happen - and so off they went, to their future. Not as a physical being, however, but rather as consciousness - only their thoughts could travel through time. They could interact with whatever or whomever would follow them, but only indirectly - a burning bush that talks, perhaps, or lights in the sky that baffle us, or maybe something even more complex and interesting, that deals with us on a subconscious level.

In our dreams, maybe.

Then, once they had finished exploring the future, they decided to explore other things. The galaxy, perhaps, or other dimensions. And then, when it was all finished, they returned home for one final journey... a voyage past the "grey wall" that even they could not see beyond - the one thing, when all other things are known, that would still hold a mystery for something / someone like them.


Having seen all that there was to see, and experienced all that there was to experience, except their own mortality, they opened that final door, and disappeared forever.

As I said, it's just a thought...

Paul Kimball


Tony Morrill said...

Well it may just be a thought, but it is definitely one of the better thoughts I have read about in this crazy Fortean field in the longest time. Besides it would definitely explain some of the stranger dreams I have had in the past

Kandinsky said...

Lost races of advanced civilisations are even more problematic than the bog-standard ETH.

For example, if we look at something as exotic as petroleum production, it requires an infrastructure and history of technological advances to get to the point of fractioning towers. Such technology needs a critical mass of population, resources, educational institutions and international trade...just to be starting with.

If we take such things as representing something close to a pinnacle of advancement, we can then follow the developments backwards in time. For the production of alloys, we must first discover the means of controlling fire. In our own evolution, the path from one to the other has taken over 1.5 million years according to some sources. The control of fire also needs a prior evolution towards sentience, instrumental thinking and even opposable thumbs to manipulate tools. All these developments are acted out against a backdrop of evolutionary/environmental drivers slowly becoming realised through tiny mutations over millions of years.

Somehow, for the 'lost race' hypothesis to remain, these processes and conflicts have to have been replicated during an unknown window of opportunity in prehistoric times. If it is the case, where is the evidence? Where are the fossil remains, signs of mining, quarries, artefacts?

Some have speculated that these unknown civilisations have tidied up after themselves, but why and how? For it to stand, we then have to start ascribing motivations to something that is still only an idea without substance.

Paul Kimball said...

Hi Kandinsky,

Remember, I said it was just a thought. ;-)

However, having said that, I think it's not quite as implausible as you make out (although by no means am I saying it actually happened).

First, you assume that the advanced civilization was like us. But what if it was some other, entirely different type of life... the kind that we may someday encounter "out there"? Then many of the traits that you would expect to find would be wholly different, even unnecessary. We have to be careful about anthropomorphizing "alien" life of any sort. We can't just assume that they would develop the same way that we did.

Second, perhaps this civilization didn't live on the land. There are still vast reaches of the ocean that we haven't really begun to explore. Maybe the beings were aquatic?

And so forth.

But, as I said, just a thought experiment... and maybe my next screenplay.


Paul Kimball said...

Hi Tony,

I'm convinced, as much as I can be convinced about anything, that there is much more to dreams than we understand, and that they may well hold a lot of clues about who and what we are, and how our mind works.


Kandinsky said...

Yeah, sorry about that Paul, 'lost races' is one of those ideas that bugs me. I tried hard not to respond, but my willpower was at low ebb :)

Lost aquatic races? Well they wouldn't need to worry about burnt food!

(sorry again!) :)

Paul Kimball said...


No worries... I place a super-advanced Terran civilization from the far past thought-traveling forward to our present pretty low on the list of things that are likely. ;-)

Still, in theory if not in practice, it's worth considering - perhaps that kind of thought contact I speculated about for past Terrans is how an alien race "out there" would do it.

And then there's our friends in the future... I'll be writing more about that soon...


Anonymous said...

Hey, this might be original thought. Screenplay? Go for it.Thanks for thought-provoking.

xarx said...

you travel back in time + free will =
various paradoxes
...wright...???,...,but if you travel in to the future,and you don't like what you find,...then you don't haw the free will to travel back in time and change the future...??????????

xarx said...

you travel back in time + free will =
various paradoxes
...wright...???,...,but if you travel in to the future,(...if you woad automatically materialize in the future ow your own parallel universe...)and you don't like what you find,...then you don't have the free will to travel back in time and change the future...??????????(...since you arr supposed to be existing in your own parallel universe,and you arr supposed to be influencing the future ow your own parallel universe),...hence resulting in an alternative future, so you woad not materialize in your own parallel universe the first time you haw traveled in to the future, so...that means....???????

lily said...

sawasdee ka!!
I come to visit naka...