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Old April 4 2012, 03:43 PM   #1
Mooch
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Infinate Timelines

If you were to invent a time machine, and go back in time with it, there are two possible theories of what could happen. Either you would go back to your current timeline ("timeline 1"), which opens the door to "killing your grandmother" paradoxes and such, or your act of going back in time would create a new timeline ("timeline 2"), in which killing your grandmother would only affect the future version of yourself in timeline 2.

However, if you don't kill your grandmother or do anything to adversly affect the future, the future you from timeline 2 would likely also invent a time machine and go back in time, creating another new timeline ("timeline 3"). Then the future you from timeline 3 would also go back in time, creating timeline 4, etc.

Thus a single person going back in time would potentially create an infinate number of new timelines, if we were to assume that altering the past creates new timelines at all.
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Old April 4 2012, 03:54 PM   #2
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Re: Infinate Timelines

New post since it's a slightly different topic.

If we were to assume going back in time creates a new timeline, would going forward in time (back to your present, for example) also create a new timeline?

If so, would the new timeline branch off from the one you originated from (timeline 1 above), or the new one you created by going to the past (timeline 2)?

If the former, nothing you did in the past would affect your future, since your actions all occurred in timeline 2. Now we would have timeline 1a, in which you disappeared and never came back, timeline 1b, in which you disappeared and returned, and timeline 2, which you created and in which an alternate you potentially exists.

If the latter, timeline 1 would be unchanged, except that you would be gone from it forever from the point you went to the past, and in timeline 2 there would now be the original you as well as the alternate you.

Something to think about.
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Old April 4 2012, 03:55 PM   #3
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Infinate Timelines

...or there are an infinite number of timelines (all states that are consistent mathematical abstractions of possible realities must exist in the multiverse), and the time machine allows you to cross between them.

As to what sort of infinity is required. The cardinality of the continuum is greater than that of the natural numbers.
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Old April 4 2012, 03:56 PM   #4
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Re: Infinate Timelines

What did my grandmother do to deserve this?
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Old April 4 2012, 04:24 PM   #5
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Everett's Multiworld Theory.

http://www.manyuniverses.com/multiverse.htm
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Old April 4 2012, 05:55 PM   #6
DarthTom
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Mooch wrote: View Post
Thus a single person going back in time would potentially create an infinate number of new timelines, if we were to assume that altering the past creates new timelines at all.
Trek fiction seems to have dabbled in this many times. In film Trek IV it seems as though no new timeline is created. However in Voyager [which used time travel paradoxes frequently] they played both sides of the fence. Year of Hell implies new timelines whereas as Futures End and Eye of the Needle implies one timeline.

In trek lore as well, the Q seem to be able to minipulate time travel with both possible implications.

So bottom line: What does Trek add to this debate - both possibilities.
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Old April 4 2012, 06:55 PM   #7
Mooch
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Re: Infinate Timelines

DarthTom wrote: View Post
Trek fiction seems to have dabbled in this many times. In film Trek IV it seems as though no new timeline is created.
Either that or, unbeknownst to Kirk and Co., they never returned to their original timeline!
DarthTom wrote: View Post
However in Voyager [which used time travel paradoxes frequently] they played both sides of the fence. Year of Hell implies new timelines whereas as Futures End and Eye of the Needle implies one timeline.
I can't remember Voyager's time travel episodes very well, but I am pretty sure that they weren't very consistent. It has definately been established that there are plenty of alternate timelines in Star Trek.
Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
...or there are an infinite number of timelines (all states that are consistent mathematical abstractions of possible realities must exist in the multiverse), and the time machine allows you to cross between them.
That's also a fun possibility. But then it's not really a time machine at all, is it? And how does it know which alternate universe you want to go to? Or does it take you to all of them simultaneously?
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Old April 4 2012, 09:40 PM   #8
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Mooch wrote: View Post
Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
...or there are an infinite number of timelines (all states that are consistent mathematical abstractions of possible realities must exist in the multiverse), and the time machine allows you to cross between them.
That's also a fun possibility. But then it's not really a time machine at all, is it? And how does it know which alternate universe you want to go to? Or does it take you to all of them simultaneously?
It's more a quantum reality machine. You can't choose the reality that you end up in with any degree of certainty - a bit like the Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror V" episode Time and Punishment segment where Homer finds an alternate reality that isn't too different and says "close enough". However, the machine would probably have to exist in both worldlines to avoid obvious inconsistencies in causality in each worldline, such as the machine suddenly popping into existence. It would be analogous to the way that some say that you can only time travel as far along a time line as the time machine exists in that timeline.
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Old April 4 2012, 11:54 PM   #9
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Ok lets say it's 2012 and you invent a time machine in 2020 and use it travel back in time to 2000. Surely your visit to 2000 had already happened relative to your viewpoint in 2012.

I hate temporal mechanics
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Old April 5 2012, 12:22 AM   #10
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Re: Infinate Timelines

MacLeod wrote: View Post

I hate temporal mechanics
It gives me a headache.
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Old April 5 2012, 12:42 AM   #11
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
...or there are an infinite number of timelines (all states that are consistent mathematical abstractions of possible realities must exist in the multiverse), and the time machine allows you to cross between them.
This makes the most sense to me. No grandfather paradox, no "creating universes" (since when are puny humans allowed to do that?) Every time someone time travels, what they're really doing is travelling to an already existing parallel universe that is almost identical to their original one.

My favorite multiverse theory of all is the one where new universes come into being because two existing ones bumped and caused a big bang. Universes have sex, too!
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Old April 5 2012, 12:43 AM   #12
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Re: Infinate Timelines

DarthTom wrote: View Post
So bottom line: What does Trek add to this debate - both possibilities.
Trek seems to have its cake and eat it, which is fair enough given that at heart it's about telling any story that its makers want to.

Stories like First Contact, Yesterday's Enterprise and DS9's Past Tense indicate that the timeline changes organically, while in the 2009 movie Spock seems to tbink that Nero necessarily comes from an alternate futurity. Yet in TNG's Time's Arrow, Data interprets his 500-year-old head as irrefutable proof that at some point in his future his head will end up in the past.

These apparently mutually exclusive visions can receive at least the appearance of consistency. Maybe Data's situation was just a stable time loop caused by his own belief that the established pattern had to be followed, and maybe Spock (or whoever brought up the parallel timeline expanation in the movie) was just wrong. Hence in Trek the past is malleable and certain people like relevant time-travellers or sensitives like Guinan have some measure of immunity from the changes.

Well, that's my two cents (or possibly less).

Regarding the wider subject of creating universes, two obvious issues arise, vis-a-vis:
1. Doesn't every single event do that?
2. Are we putting the cart before the horse? Surely classical physics (including everyday actions) is an emergent property of quantum physics instead of having an "effect" on it?
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Last edited by Wereghost; April 5 2012 at 08:23 AM.
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Old April 5 2012, 07:52 AM   #13
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
...or there are an infinite number of timelines (all states that are consistent mathematical abstractions of possible realities must exist in the multiverse), and the time machine allows you to cross between them.
This makes the most sense to me. No grandfather paradox, no "creating universes" (since when are puny humans allowed to do that?) Every time someone time travels, what they're really doing is travelling to an already existing parallel universe that is almost identical to their original one.
I nicked the idea from David Deutsch. He also argues that a great deal of fiction is enacted somewhere in the multiverse, although it seems unlikely to me that fantasy fiction invoking magic or supernatural forces could exist.
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Old April 5 2012, 08:29 AM   #14
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Re: Infinate Timelines

^ I concur. It does seem that the timelines would all have the same physical properties and to be self-consistent. So maybe Batman, but Superman might be pushing it.
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Old April 5 2012, 02:48 PM   #15
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Re: Infinate Timelines

Bob Orci and J.J. Abrams need to stop meddling in everyone's lives. They can't make me accept that the Abramsverse wasn't a preexisting timeline, just like they can't make me eat broccoli. I only want to eat cookies, and change my diaper already! Making me eat broccoli is clearly unconstitutional, and you're not going to get 60 votes in the Senate for the Abramsverse, so you gotta throw the whole thing out. WAAAAAAH!
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