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Old June 2 2014, 04:49 AM   #871
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
So yes, there is a fork in the road.
Then you drive to the Slausen Cutoff...
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Old June 2 2014, 08:20 AM   #872
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
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That's not quite correct. There is no 'fork' per se; the timelines are separate even if they appear to be exact so no, NuKirk cannot go back and meet TOS Kirk in 1930.
You're stating a variant fan interpretation as though it were gospel fact. The intent of the filmmakers, as we know for a fact, was that the Abramsverse diverged from the Prime history as a result of the Narada's arrival in 2233. Prior to that moment, they were the same timeline. Certainly I've heard many people argue that it could have been a separate timeline to begin with, but that's just a supposition, not a proven fact. Therefore, I am sticking with the presumption intended by the filmmakers, until I'm given canonical evidence to the contrary. (The comics don't count.)


Of course if you accept that premise then McCoy was not changing the past at all in the original episode but rather causing those in the vicinity of the Guardian to 'jump tracks' along with the person that has been sent back. In that respect the time traveller is changing the history of the observers by making them part of the alternate timeline.
I think you're making the mistake of assuming that alternate timelines are just near-identical parallels that have always coexisted alongside each other. That's not the way it works, quantum-mechanically speaking or fictionally speaking. They only run in parallel after the event that causes the divergence, not before it. So yes, there is a fork in the road.
Well, sort of. If the timelines were the same and there were an infinite number of alternate realities, in at least some of those realities, people would travel back in time to points before the divergence. When you have infinite possibilities of every split second, you would, as people are saying, end up with a massive, MASSIVE bottleneck. Think about it - every intelligent being that has ever existed will, in some realities, develop time time travel and in at least one reality, every one of those will travel back to the same point in time at the same location. As a theory I just think it's untenable.

The other possibility is that the act of time travel automatically creates a divergence at the moment the time traveller arrives so the concept of pre-destination paradox goes out the window, which would be a shame i.e. Data could never find his head in a cave because when they went back in time they would create a fork and a new future.

IMO if every possibility exists as a quantum probability then you've had multiple possible timelines running parallel since the birth of time with multiple copies of the most probable outcomes.

Of course Trek writers have used every and all versions of time travel so none of us can be sure that there is a right answer. We also know that time exists everywhen all at once and it's only our perception of it that makes it seem like stuff has yet to happen so the concept of changing the past or the future seems incorrect. IMO this is consistent with the parallel track theory.

And we're only talking about physics. For all intents and purposes the identical timelines ARE the same but travelling back in one of them does not change the future in every other or you end up with the temporal police and nobody wants that car crash of a concept.
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Old June 2 2014, 01:31 PM   #873
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
Well, sort of. If the timelines were the same and there were an infinite number of alternate realities, in at least some of those realities, people would travel back in time to points before the divergence.
As I've said in other threads, I reject the whole "infinite universes" idea as an invalid explanation for alternate-timeline stories. If there were an infinite number of universes and some of them just randomly happened to duplicate ours, then the overwhelming majority of such random universes would be nothing like ours in any way, and the probability of finding the duplicates in an infinite set would be n over infinity = zero -- therefore any two coincidentally near-identical universes would never interact. So in any work of fiction that's about people from one timeline/universe actually travelling to or interacting with a different one, we must be dealing with a finite set of realities whose similarities are not the result of random chance but are instead due to a common origin.

I know the comic series that this thread is about has embraced the "infinite alternates" model, but it just doesn't work.


When you have infinite possibilities of every split second, you would, as people are saying, end up with a massive, MASSIVE bottleneck. Think about it - every intelligent being that has ever existed will, in some realities, develop time time travel and in at least one reality, every one of those will travel back to the same point in time at the same location. As a theory I just think it's untenable.
Okay, now you're conflating two contradictory assumptions. All this handwaving about "infinity" only applies if you're talking about separate, unconnected universes in an infinite multiverse, in which some would just randomly happen to be identical. But now you seem to talking about the alternative notion that parallel timelines all branch off from a common origin -- the actual Many-Worlds quantum-physics model in which timelines are superposed quantum states of a single physical universe. So if we're just talking about the possible particle states of our particular observable universe, then the total number of possible states is finite, because there's only a finite number of particles in the observable universe. Also, if you're going macroscopic and talking about the range of possible decisions that a given person could make, then that's even more finite, because our choices are a lot more constrained by circumstances than we like to think. For instance, if you're at an intersection and you turn left instead of right, that's because you have a reason to go left. A prior set of circumstances led you to that decision, so the odds are you'd go left in most parallel timelines. And even if there were some where you did turn right instead, there would be none where you went straight up into the air or straight down into the Earth. Your choices are constrained to a finite few by your history and circumstances. So even talking about "infinity" in a context like this is invalid.



The other possibility is that the act of time travel automatically creates a divergence at the moment the time traveller arrives so the concept of pre-destination paradox goes out the window, which would be a shame i.e. Data could never find his head in a cave because when they went back in time they would create a fork and a new future.
I'll never understand this argument -- this reflexive assumption that just because something can happen a certain way, that means it's required to happen that way. Yes, the laws of physics are consistent, but they have different results under different sets of initial conditions. A branch of a river may diverge away from the river, or it may meander back and rejoin the river, depending on the conditions at that particular point. So just because timelines can branch, that does not in any way prohibit a self-consistent loop. It's just a matter of the specific context in which the event occurs.


IMO if every possibility exists as a quantum probability then you've had multiple possible timelines running parallel since the birth of time with multiple copies of the most probable outcomes.
That's true enough, but the point is that it does still allow for a single timeline to continue branching. And that's what we're talking about when we discuss time travel. As a rule, traveling back in time sends you into your own past. It doesn't spontaneously jump you to some alternate past. And if you then take some action in your own past that causes events to change, then you create a new branching off of your own timeline. This is the way it's almost always assumed to work in fiction, and certainly in Trek. And I can't think of anything in real theoretical physics that would invalidate it. Yes, other parallel branches already exist, but they aren't relevant here, any more than the other branches of a tree are relevant to whether a particular branch grows a new twig.


And we're only talking about physics. For all intents and purposes the identical timelines ARE the same but travelling back in one of them does not change the future in every other or you end up with the temporal police and nobody wants that car crash of a concept.
What? Of course it doesn't change every other. Why would it? The whole point of parallel timelines is that they don't interact, as a rule -- no matter how similar they may be, they are unaffected by one another and behave as if they were completely separate, isolated universes. Only very unlikely, exotic physics would allow any exceptions to that rule.
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Old June 2 2014, 06:34 PM   #874
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

If the NX-01 would travel into the future, would it be predictable which future it would arrive in? And if it travelled more than once, would it see the same future or randomly bounce between possible futures?

To make the relevance to this thread more obvious: which NCC-1701 would be the one Archer encounters?

(Maybe Enterprise could have a choice of futures? )
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Old June 2 2014, 06:45 PM   #875
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Markonian wrote: View Post
If the NX-01 would travel into the future, would it be predictable which future it would arrive in?
Probably not. Generally in Trek, when we see people traveling to or getting glimpses of the future, it turns out that it was just "one possible future," because the writers don't want to limit future storylines. (Which was why they went right from making a series finale where the Enterprise-D survived decades in the future and had three nacelles to making a movie where the E-D was destroyed less than a year later.) Presumably it would be their most probable future, or one of them. Or, as is often the case in fiction, the future that will result from their current circumstances if they don't prevent something based on that future knowledge.


And if it travelled more thantonce, would it see the same future or randomly bounce between possible futures?
If their knowledge of the future led them to do anything differently, then they'd end up in a different future, per the usual time-travel story rules. Archer moved into Daniels's future more than once (assuming it was the same Daniels every time, which may not be certain), but that was because Daniels brought him there.


To make the relevance to this thread more obvious: which NCC-1701 would be the one Archer encounters?
You mean, Prime or Abramsverse? I'd guess Prime, because that's the more probable/spontaneous timeline (more or less), while Abrams is an altered branch.


(Maybe Enterprise could have a choice of futures? )
No. That'd never happen.
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Old June 2 2014, 07:13 PM   #876
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
So in any work of fiction that's about people from one timeline/universe actually travelling to or interacting with a different one, we must be dealing with a finite set of realities whose similarities are not the result of random chance but are instead due to a common origin.

I know the comic series that this thread is about has embraced the "infinite alternates" model, but it just doesn't work.

Also, if you're going macroscopic and talking about the range of possible decisions that a given person could make, then that's even more finite, because our choices are a lot more constrained by circumstances than we like to think. For instance, if you're at an intersection and you turn left instead of right, that's because you have a reason to go left. A prior set of circumstances led you to that decision, so the odds are you'd go left in most parallel timelines. And even if there were some where you did turn right instead, there would be none where you went straight up into the air or straight down into the Earth. Your choices are constrained to a finite few by your history and circumstances. So even talking about "infinity" in a context like this is invalid.

So just because timelines can branch, that does not in any way prohibit a self-consistent loop. It's just a matter of the specific context in which the event occurs.

IMO if every possibility exists as a quantum probability then you've had multiple possible timelines running parallel since the birth of time with multiple copies of the most probable outcomes.
That's true enough, but the point is that it does still allow for a single timeline to continue branching. And that's what we're talking about when we discuss time travel. As a rule, traveling back in time sends you into your own past. It doesn't spontaneously jump you to some alternate past. And if you then take some action in your own past that causes events to change, then you create a new branching off of your own timeline. This is the way it's almost always assumed to work in fiction, and certainly in Trek. And I can't think of anything in real theoretical physics that would invalidate it. Yes, other parallel branches already exist, but they aren't relevant here, any more than the other branches of a tree are relevant to whether a particular branch grows a new twig.

And we're only talking about physics. For all intents and purposes the identical timelines ARE the same but travelling back in one of them does not change the future in every other or you end up with the temporal police and nobody wants that car crash of a concept.
What? Of course it doesn't change every other. Why would it? The whole point of parallel timelines is that they don't interact, as a rule -- no matter how similar they may be, they are unaffected by one another and behave as if they were completely separate, isolated universes. Only very unlikely, exotic physics would allow any exceptions to that rule.
Any theory has to work off a set of assumptions that are not wholly consistent consistent with canon. It isn't possible to pin down a correct answer as a result.

And just because one person in isolation has no reason to turn left does not mean that if some other person gives him a reason he will turn left. Butterfly Effect 101, with a near infinite number of variables throughout the universe. Attempting to limit that to a much smaller number is an arbitrary assumption. And we don't know for sure that there are a finite number of particles in existence once the multiverse is taken into account.

And who or what decides what is consistent with one's own past to form a loop if the very act of going back changes one's past?

We should all just follow Janeway's example and accept that temporal mechanics make no sense.
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Old June 2 2014, 08:15 PM   #877
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

You seem to be missing a quote tag somewhere.


Pauln6 wrote: View Post
Any theory has to work off a set of assumptions that are not wholly consistent consistent with canon. It isn't possible to pin down a correct answer as a result.
But that doesn't give you the freedom to arbitrarily ignore what canon has established, and that's always been built around the assumption that time travelers go into their own pasts and create new branchings therefrom.


And just because one person in isolation has no reason to turn left does not mean that if some other person gives him a reason he will turn left. Butterfly Effect 101, with a near infinite number of variables throughout the universe.
But even so, that doesn't mean they can turn up or down, just left or right. The number of options is still finite.

Attempting to limit that to a much smaller number is an arbitrary assumption.
It is nothing of the kind. "Arbitrary" means made without reason. I've explained the reasons why the variables are limited.


And we don't know for sure that there are a finite number of particles in existence once the multiverse is taken into account.
You keep making the very sloppy mistake of treating two entirely separate premises as interchangeable. I'm not talking about the "infinite multiverse" idea here, because, as I've explained, that's a useless and inept model to apply to fiction about near-identical timelines actually interacting. I'm talking about the kind of timelines that emerge from Many-Worlds quantum theory -- different history states of the same single physical universe. So yes, we are absolutely talking about a finite ensemble of particles in that context. The observable universe is only 13.8 billion light-years in radius, a large but undoubtedly finite volume. And if we're talking about the ensemble of particles that actually interact to create the correlations that manifest as distinct timelines, then we're limited to a much smaller whole -- probably just the galaxy or the Local Group, effectively.


And who or what decides what is consistent with one's own past to form a loop if the very act of going back changes one's past?
Nobody "decides" anything. You're in the timeline you're in. Think of timelines as branching roads or tree limbs. If you go back in time, you will go backward along the same path you came from in the first place -- and since you're going in the direction opposite to the branchings, there's no way you can end up on a different branch unless you start going forward again and take (or create) a different fork in the road. Wherever you end up will be your own past, at least to begin with. If you then make changes, that will split off a different path. But if you act in a way that doesn't change anything, then you reinforce your own history. That's why some time travels create branches and others create loops.


We should all just follow Janeway's example and accept that temporal mechanics make no sense.
There's actually a lot of solid theoretical physics about time travel and alternate histories that makes plenty of mathematical sense, and that's what I use as my guide. It's counterintuitive, yes, and very different from everyday experience, but that doesn't make it nonsensical.
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Old June 2 2014, 11:18 PM   #878
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Markonian wrote: View Post
If the NX-01 would travel into the future, would it be predictable which future it would arrive in?
Probably not. Generally in Trek, when we see people traveling to or getting glimpses of the future, it turns out that it was just "one possible future," because the writers don't want to limit future storylines. (Which was why they went right from making a series finale where the Enterprise-D survived decades in the future and had three nacelles to making a movie where the E-D was destroyed less than a year later.) Presumably it would be their most probable future, or one of them. Or, as is often the case in fiction, the future that will result from their current circumstances if they don't prevent something based on that future knowledge.
So you're saying that it would not break any rules of Star Trek (novel) physics for a future work to have Lucsly and Dulmur forcibly granted some kind of longevity/immortality and be held hostage as they helplessly witness a Federation apocalypse in spite of all their experiences in Watching the Clock?
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Old June 2 2014, 11:26 PM   #879
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Apologies. This site doesn't like my browser atm. I've tried to edit the post but it keeps freezing so I'll have to dispense with quotes for now. I love these temporal debates with Christopher. He's so dogmatic!

However, it's only opinion to say that what canon has said is inept and so MUST be changed your your own personal theory. I will concede that it has been very inconsistent and inept mind you.

Theoretical physics is still theoretical and different physicists still argue different temporal theories. Nobody can say that one is definitely right at this point. In terms of Trek, if you believe in branching then the act of going back in time plops something new in the pre-existing timeline. The timeline can't branch until you go back so it isn't possible to have a pre-destination paradox using branching theory as far as I can see. Once you have gone back, you can only move forward in the new timeline (like Sisko/Bell as opposed to Data's head). This is where I get confused because when the new timeline comes into existence and Nu-Data finds that head in HIS version of the cave, when HE goes back in time to the same point before the branch we get two Datas at the same time. I get how parallel realities deals with this but I just don't get how branching deals with this issue. It may be my own ignorance of temporal physics but it should at least explain based on the available canon evidence, why I prefer the latter theory. It doesn't really matter whether the number of alternate realities is finite or infinite unless you can quantify the statistical outcome. I think any number is going to be so large that we can't really quantify the outcome.

Also, the way the characters characterise their experiences of 'branching' in dialogue need not automatically reflect what is actually going on. I think the temporal police have a branching diagram but if you want to stand behind that episode on your own head be it! ;P

FYI. I prefer pre-destination paradoxes without any alternate realities but that's one horse that bolted looong ago.

Edit I think I fixed the quote above.
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Old June 2 2014, 11:39 PM   #880
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Technically going by Christopher's system, it should be Data's head with all his memories up until season 6 of TNG which is sitting under San Francisco in 2259 of the AU. And that's probably one of the coolest things ever.
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Old June 2 2014, 11:39 PM   #881
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
We should all just follow Janeway's example and accept that temporal mechanics make no sense.
There's actually a lot of solid theoretical physics about time travel and alternate histories that makes plenty of mathematical sense, and that's what I use as my guide. It's counterintuitive, yes, and very different from everyday experience, but that doesn't make it nonsensical.
Apologies. I should have said that temporal mechanics in Star Trek make no sense.
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Old June 3 2014, 12:24 AM   #882
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Technically going by Christopher's system, it should be Data's head with all his memories up until season 6 of TNG which is sitting under San Francisco in 2259 of the AU. And that's probably one of the coolest things ever.
Very cool indeed! Now I'm afraid this idea will be the setup for Ongoing #42....
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Old June 3 2014, 12:36 AM   #883
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
I love these temporal debates with Christopher. He's so dogmatic!
Dogma is a matter of belief or ideology. I'm merely describing what the physics says, which is not a matter of either of those things.


However, it's only opinion to say that what canon has said is inept and so MUST be changed your your own personal theory. I will concede that it has been very inconsistent and inept mind you.
Actually there's a lot about it that's very consistent. I was surprised at how well it held together when I researched Watching the Clock -- and how much of it could be more or less reconciled with actual theory.


Theoretical physics is still theoretical and different physicists still argue different temporal theories. Nobody can say that one is definitely right at this point.
As someone who's actually researched the physics, I can tell you that's not true. Physics is about building models based on observation and extrapolating predictions from known theory. Our theories of time and causality are grounded in two of the most solidly confirmed theories in all of physics: relativity and quantum mechanics. The conclusions are based in mathematics, derived from the equations of those theories. And while there are certainly predictions that haven't been tested yet, I don't see a lot of argument or lack of consensus among the physicists theorizing about time travel or alternate quantum histories.


In terms of Trek, if you believe in branching then the act of going back in time plops something new in the pre-existing timeline. The timeline can't branch until you go back so it isn't possible to have a pre-destination paradox using branching theory as far as I can see.
That doesn't follow. No, it can't branch until you go back, but that doesn't mean it must branch if you go back. If you drive past a crossroad, then reverse and go back to before the intersection, you can choose to turn onto a different road the second time, but you can also choose to go forward again along the same road you took before. That option remains along with the others.


Once you have gone back, you can only move forward in the new timeline (like Sisko/Bell as opposed to Data's head).
No, you can move forwrd into whatever timeline results from your actions. If your actions contradict your own history, then you move into a different timeline. If your actions promote your own history, then you continue in the original one.
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Old June 3 2014, 07:20 AM   #884
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Pauln6 wrote: View Post
I love these temporal debates with Christopher. He's so dogmatic!
Dogma is a matter of belief or ideology. I'm merely describing what the physics says, which is not a matter of either of those things.
adjective: dogmatic
Inclined to lay down principles as undeniably true.
;P

Christopher wrote: View Post
Once you have gone back, you can only move forward in the new timeline (like Sisko/Bell as opposed to Data's head).
No, you can move forwrd into whatever timeline results from your actions. If your actions contradict your own history, then you move into a different timeline. If your actions promote your own history, then you continue in the original one.
This is the bit I don't understand. You're breathing air that wasn't previously breathed by you. You're introducing new strains of bacteria that did not previously exist in that time or location. You're interacting with people, animals, and objects that either nobody interacted with or somebody else interacted with. I don't see how you can change nothing at all and if you change something, that has to make a new branch. It just seems to me that saying a branch only comes into existence if there is a major change is entirely arbitrary. What constitutes a major change and who in the world of physics has decided through maths, observation, and quantification, what that is?

BTW I admit I have not ready an actual papers on the subject just a new scientist article which examined the existing theories. The science may have veered towards one theory now but at the time there was certainly no consensus and each theory remains an untestable theory.

Nonetheless, out of interest, how does the many worlds theory of time travel deal with temporal bottlenecks? If travellers from alternate futures can travel back to the same point in a shared past, aren't they adding additional matter to the shared past and if so is this the tipping point of the Big Bang?
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Old June 3 2014, 02:03 PM   #885
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Re: IDW Star Trek Ongoing...

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
adjective: dogmatic
Inclined to lay down principles as undeniably true.
Now you're being insulting. The fact is, your own assertions here are based on some major misunderstandings, confusions, and mistaken assumptions. I'm just trying to point out where your understanding of science is mistaken and your logic is self-contradictory. If you refuse to admit that you're capable of error and that any criticism is merely a difference of opinion, then you're the one being a dogmatist.


This is the bit I don't understand. You're breathing air that wasn't previously breathed by you. You're introducing new strains of bacteria that did not previously exist in that time or location.
That's a myth, that you weren't there "previously." There is no "previously," except from the subjective viewpoint of the time traveler. If you went back into the past, then you were there all along. If you created a second time track, then that second track was there all along. As Dr. T'Viss said in Watching the Clock, you can't understand time travel until you step outside your own subjective perception of time -- look at the whole thing as a timeless continuum where every event has already happened. If an event looks new to a given observer, that's only because that observer wasn't previously aware of its existence.

After all, it's a fundamental contradiction to talk about two versions of a single moment in time coming "before" and "after" one another. By definition, they are simultaneous. It only looks to the time traveler that one comes after the other, but that's an illusion caused by the time travel. If you rewind a video of a ball game and watch it again, that doesn't mean there's a second game being played. It just means you've altered your own perspective to experience the same moment in time at a subjectively later moment.


It just seems to me that saying a branch only comes into existence if there is a major change is entirely arbitrary. What constitutes a major change and who in the world of physics has decided through maths, observation, and quantification, what that is?
Okay -- strictly speaking, in real physics, if you went back in time, you couldn't change anything. As a quantum observer, you're already entangled/correlated with the events of your own timeline, so if you go back into the past, you correlate that past with your own future, and thereby guarantee that the future you perceive will be the one you started from.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0506027.pdf

So a self-consistent time loop is actually the default. For a more classical perspective:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novikov...ency_principle

The fictional premise of altering history by time travel is actually pretty much a fantasy, although it might be justifiable through nonlinear quantum mechanics, which I won't get into here. Stories can fudge things to allow for it to happen, but realistically speaking, the self-consistent type of loop that you're dismissing as impossible is actually the more plausible outcome of time travel by an enormous margin.


Nonetheless, out of interest, how does the many worlds theory of time travel deal with temporal bottlenecks? If travellers from alternate futures can travel back to the same point in a shared past, aren't they adding additional matter to the shared past and if so is this the tipping point of the Big Bang?
They aren't "adding" anything -- they were there all along. If you mean that any time travelers are contributing mass-energy to the universe that wasn't there before the moment of their arrival in the past or future (from an objective observer's perspective), I've come across time-travel theories that account for that -- say, the time warp releases an amount of negative energy to balance the amount of mass-energy the traveler adds.

Strictly speaking, Many Worlds isn't about time travel specifically. It's about the nature and definition of alternate histories of a universe. I'm using it as a shorthand for the type of alternate realities I'm talking about, those that are alternate histories of a single physical universe, in order to distinguish it from the separate and unrelated type of alternate universes involved in the infinite-multiverse model, which are simply distinct physical realms that exist unreachably far away in space or in other dimensions.

And I have no idea what you mean by "tipping point of the Big Bang."
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