Friday, January 27, 2006

Well now I've gone cross-eyed

It’s not very often that my boss implores me to blow off an editorial I’m working on so that we can go drinking. So when the opportunity presents itself, I certainly oblige. One of our colleagues (and one of the dwindling number of people in the office that aren’t 15 years or more older than I am) has decided to pursue other opportunities within the District, so we decided that it simply wouldn’t be a proper sendoff without a happy hour.

An hour and quite a few beers later, I found myself with an hour and a half to kill before my s+uttering suppor+ group, so I headed over to the bookstore — where I attempted to read a S+ephen H@wking book with a buzz.

It wasn’t as ridiculous as it might sound — the concept of time travel seems much more plausible after a pitcher of beer. Plus, I periodically enjoy having my mind blown and this seemed like the book to do it.

Though I will say that after reading the chapter on time travel, I’m not particularly sold on the idea. There were, however, some interesting concepts of time. For example, the idea that time is not a universal linear experience for all people. That is to say, that events have the potential to occur in different orders to different observers. I’ll concede that. It simply requires incredibly massive distances of space.

Say for example that there are two observers stationed four light years apart. Observer A sneezes. Two weeks later, Observer B sneezes. Four years later, the Observers receive the information that the other sneezed. Now, we know that Observer A sneezed two weeks before Observer B. But according to Observer B, he sneezed four years before Observer A. More over, Observer A would claim that he sneezed four years before Observer B. Both would be right according to their own experience, but both would be inherently wrong.

This leads me to believe that time travel as most people conceive it isn’t possible, but the illusion of time travel is. Say there was a baseball game happening in the civilization of Observer A. Now, Observer B usually wouldn’t know about the game until four years after it was played because of the distance between the two civilizations. However, it would theoretically be possible for Observer B to travel faster than the speed of light, arrive in Civilization A, watch the baseball game, travel back to his civilization faster than the speed of light, and place a bet on the baseball game with other members of his civilization, having already witnessed the outcome.

Now, in the eyes of those in Civilization B, Observer B traveled into the future, having already seen a future event. However, according to Civilization A, he would have traveled into the past, having arrived before a past event had taken place. But this isn’t entirely accurate. What he did in reality was travel faster than the information that eventually reached the respective destinations.

Naturally, I don’t have a degree in astrophysics or anything like that, that’s just the kind of stuff that makes sense to me. I guess you could argue that with such massive distances, forces and incredible speeds that anything could happen, which is pretty much the point of the whole “uncertainty theory” — essentially, there are just some things we won’t know.

The whole idea of time being abstract as well as subject to different observations has led me to develop a theory of a universal observer, which holds this whole time/space continuum thing together. More on this another time. It’s Friday, and I gotta get out of here before the sun goes down.

If this post just bored you out of your mind, go have a pitcher of beer and read it again. It’ll sound a lot cooler.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this theorem has a lot of potential. In other words, if Kerry voted for the war before he voted against it, couldn't he just simply blame it on the time continuum? I'm just sayin...

8:08 PM  

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