Monday, May 21, 2012

Time Travel

James mentioned recently (it could have been Texan99, but I really think it was James) that he sometimes has the disquieting experience of people speaking as if some science fiction concept were science fact.

Had one of those today. Another social worker - these people have graduate degrees, remember - mentioned that one of the common worries about time travel isn't really true. One doesn't change history when one goes back, one goes into a slightly different dimension* (commonly called an SDD, I imagine, in the jargon of the experienced), so your own real time isn't affected at all. He seemed quite serious about this. I replied talking offhandedly about science fiction and the various possibilities that had been written about. I was careful not to bluntly announce that this only happened in fiction, yet repeat the point several times that writers created these ideas. I don't know if it stuck.

*Don't you just hate it when that happens?


Sam L. said...

If I'm not going back in my own time, then I ain't goin'! What's the point?

james said...


If I have the time, I like to start asking enthusiastic questions about how it works, who did it, and so on.

Sometimes I'm in a position to flatly contradict someone ("No, McDonalds's milkshakes are not mostly wood pulp. If they were, they'd be advertised as low calorie."), but usually it isn't so easy.

Donna B. said...

Oh dear. That could have been me.

Imagining the logistics of other possible worlds is one of my favorite pastimes.

I wonder if anyone has ever thought I didn't know the difference?

Donna B. said...

"Possible worlds"... wrong words. Imaginary worlds.

james said...

From TheLastPsychiatrist (Retriever links to him)

The New York Times loves science, LOVES it, especially the kind with no numbers and frequent appeals to authority, especially ESPECIALLY if those authorities are from the cast of Freakonomics. Here are the seven most important sciences according to the NYT:

1. Sociology
2. Political science
4. Climate science
5. Science fiction

7. NPR

8. Law

Assistant Village Idiot said...

No Donna, whatever you kick yourself about in life, don't let it be this. This was not an overenthusiastic sci-fi fan forgetting himself and perhaps misspeaking. This was a person speaking with furrowed brow, rather concerned, wondering how I, the most notable science person in the department, had not heard of this. That in itself may have given him pause, more than any of my subsequent comments.

Donna B. said...

No worries -- I'm not kicking myself over it. I'm too old to kick myself without pulling a muscle.

Sam L. said...

Donna B., they may be possible. We have no way of knowing. For all we know, there may be aliens living deep in the earth, or preparing to invade and wipe us out. I'm not losing sleep over that. Or daylight, either.