By Georgina Young-Ellis
I am obsessed with time travel. Anything and everything associated with time travel catches my eye, and what would I give to be able to actually do it – on my terms, of course. A few years ago, the OPERA scientists, a collective of international physicists, sent neutrino particles through the Hadron supercollider in Cern, Switzerland, to a laboratory in Gran Sasso Italy, and it appeared that the particles had reached Gran Sasso faster than the speed of light – do you remember that?
This was a cathartic moment for physicists all over the world, and actually had huge implications for all of us. It meant that Einstein, who theorized that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light, was wrong. In an English class I was teaching at the time, a student of mine was really excited about this and explained to me that the ultimate implications of the experiment were, indeed, time travel.
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I had recently published the first two books in my time travel series, in which the time travel “portal” that allows the characters to journey back in time is (very) loosely based upon the Einstein-Rosen Bridge wormhole theory. When this scientific-minded student explained the information about the faster-than-light neutrinos to the class, and me, I was out of my mind with the anticipation of learning more about it.
In a wonderful presentation that he carefully prepared for the class, he explained that if one could travel faster than the speed of light, then as one did so, everything else around that person would appear to slow down. And if everything around you slowed down, couldn’t you conceivably then pick a point in time to simply, step off and visit? Well, I’m not scientist, which is probably pretty obvious, but imagine my joy to learn that maybe, just maybe, time travel would someday actually be possible.
Well, it turns out, not yet, folks. The experiment at Cern was flawed, and was soon discredited. The neutrinos did not travel faster than light. As an article in Wired magazine stated, “The … anomaly was ‘attributed to a faulty element of the experiment’s fiber-optic timing system.’”
Einstein was vindicated and the premise that physicists from around the world had based their work on for decades was still in tact. Whew!
And so, as I continue to rely on the method of time travel that I invented for my series, which to a dyed-in-the-wool physicist probably seems pretty lame, I am also fascinated by how other authors, and film-makers, do it.
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Since I’m a girl, and therefore wasn’t particularly into H.G. Wells as a kid, my first real introduction to time travel in literature came with The Time Traveler’s Wife. In my opinion, author Audrey Niffenegger’s method is brilliant: the time traveler is simply genetically inclined to do so, but can only travel throughout his own life time, and it happens to him spontaneously and against his will. This is inconvenient for a lot of reasons, one of which is that, when he does time travel, he does it in the raw since his clothes don’t come along for the ride, forcing him to end up wherever he is buck-naked. I personally wouldn’t be a fan of doing it that way, but it’s a cool concept.
Then we have the magical kind, like in Outlander, where an ancient site has something to do with getting whisked away into the past. There’s also the book Timeline, by Michael Crichton, in which a time travel machine is actually built, but there are various stipulations involved with how one gets back. I liked that process a lot, because I rather prefer the scientifically based methods, even if the science is completely made up.
Then there’s time travel in film, which includes the classic Somewhere in Time, and the equally lofty Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, not to mention Back to the Future. Two of my all time favorites are Midnight in Paris and Peggy Sue Got Married, in which there’s no attempt even made to explain why or how the time travel occurs except that in Peggy Sue, she basically just has a heart scare, or whatever, and this causes a sort of hallucination.
Another of my favorite time travel movies, which many haven’t even heard of, it being a small indie flick, is Safety Not Guaranteed, a very endearing film starring Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza. If you’re interested in the time travel theme, you must check it out.
At the very least, the time travel discussion is always a fun one to have. Here’s one of the best topics: If you time travel, and change something in the past, will everything in the future change? I like to posit that no, simply a new time line will be created in which the new reality will continue along that line, but the original reality will just go on being the same.
And then there’s the old chicken and the egg dilemma: If I go back in time and change something, how will anyone ever know it’s been changed, including me, since as of the moment I changed it, it will have always been that way? This is a mind-blowing paradox for the time travel author, or ponderer, to overcome, and many just steer clear of it. After all, since the neutrinos at Cern did not, in fact, travel faster than the speed of light, we don’t have to worry about it yet though, as numerous authors, filmmakers, and fans have discovered, it’s endless fun to think about. Happy travels, everyone!
Book 3 – The Time Contessa [easyazon_image align=”none” height=”160″ identifier=”148401040X” locale=”US” src=”http://secondactcafe.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/418vGXHlphL.SL160.jpg” tag=”baswiebmo-20″ width=”100″]
Amazon: The Time Mistress Series
Pinterest: The Time Baroness