There are recurrent themes in my life. Ideas that appear, fade out, and re-appear on a cyclic basis. Time-travel is one of them. Some years ago, a solution to the go-back-and-kill-your-own-father problem occurred to me while I was listening to an episode of This American Life.
I was so compelled by the solution, that I wrote this story. Read it first if you like to explore scientific ideas in a narrative form.
Here’s the gist of the idea -
Quantum mechanics posits the idea of possible outcomes of an event (no matter how insignificant) spawning a parallel universe that contains that possiblity. On a quantum scale, these possibilites are expressed as Heisenbergian changes to sub-atomic particles, but at a macro-scale it’s heads in this universe and tails in the one next door.
Using an example from the story (instead of the classically patricidal example), suppose that I jump back in time five minutes and wave to myself- at what moment in time do I suddenly remember having seen myself wave to myself? This is the classic paradox of time-travel. To solve it, we merely redefine time travel to include parallel universe hopping.
Call the instance of me that decides to jump back in time, Gever-A. Gever-A jumps into a seemingly identical parallel universe occupied by Gever-B, waves, then returns to his source universe. The universe of Gever-B is in fact identical to the one occupied by Gever-A, except for the fact that Gever-B has a memory of being waved to by Gever-A. Gever-A has a memory of waving to himself, but no memory of being waved to by himself, because he never did.
p.s. my current favorite time-travel novel is “The Time Travellers Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, which does not posit a solution to the paradox.
I have two sculptures in my upstairs bathroom:
They are examples from some of my earliest experiments with the plasma torch, and despite the fact that I see many technical flaws in their execution, they remain some of my most evocative pieces.
Using the principle of “go where the code leads you” I have developed this little application I call morphologica.
Here are the instructions for using morphologica:
- click on things that look interesting to you
- hit ‘refresh’ for a fresh batch.
You start with nine cells each containing a randomly generated gene. The gene is represented as an array of real numbers. The gene renderer interprets the contents of the array as instructions to a virtual machine. The virtual machine knows how to do basic drawing operations using a turtle as well as logic (goto, call, return, etc).
The imposition of your aesthetic creates the fitness test for the environment in which these cellular organisms exist. By selecting a cell, you create eight slightly mutated copies.
From simple beginings, all manner of complexity can evolve.
Generation 12 - evolution of repetitive structure
Generation 15 - evolution of variables
Generation 25 - the snowflake children
Generation 30 - emergence of variable stroke thickness
Generation 41 - airline logos
Generation 46 - the rise of the flowers
I just meandered onto this summary of a paper (which appears to be in German), that explores humor interactions in children:
“In a field study based on a qualitative longitudinal study with a cohort-sequence design twelve trained investigators observed systematically 102 children. In the 6,109 humor scenes created by 7- to 12-year-old children with other children researchers recognized five levels within the development of wittiness.”
Just a short story about love, written many years ago.
“The thing about airports is that once you’ve spent more than three hours in one, you’ve pretty much exhausted the loitering curriculum. Luckily Jeff Burke is here to regale me with tales of radiation exposure on submarines…”