Thursday, November 15, 2012

All the Time in the World

I consider myself a bit of a movie buff. I love movies and love watching them with someone who doesn't mind picking them apart and discussing the intricacies of the story line. The possibility of a great debate is probably most present in time travel movies.

I love watching time travel movies and trying to catch continuity mistakes. However, one has to be careful to follow the time travel rules being established by that particular movie. The rules are not universal. In some movies, the 'grandfather paradox' is in play, meaning that if you were to travel back in time and kill your grandfather, then you would cease to exist. This happens in Back to the Future. When Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox), accidentally interferes in the first meeting of his parents, he starts to fade unless he can get them to fall in love.

In other movies, going back and killing off an ancestor would have no effect on you. You would have altered the future from that moment, but since you already exist, you would continue to do so. This would not change even if you traveled back to the future again.

In some movies, a change in the past will effect the previous future. In others, what has happened has already happened and cannot be changed. In yet other movies, making a change in the past, creates a parallel timeline with the newly instituted changes.

So, when looking for these movie mistakes, one must be careful to only look at the time travel rules that have been established by that particular movie. For instance, in the recent movie Looper, there is a man from the future who is now in the present who must be caught and killed. The gangsters have caught the younger version of this man.

According to the rules of the movie, if they killed the younger version, then the older version would cease to exist. However, they cannot do that because it would cause a problem with time continuity. The future actions of the younger man still need to happen. They need to capture the older man and then kill him.

This all makes sense until they start using their method to draw the older man back to them. First, they carve an address into the body of the younger man knowing that it will leave scars. The older man, seeing them on his own body, knows where they want him to go. Then they start cutting off parts of the younger man's body. The older version of him, suddenly missing a few fingers, knows they will continue to do this if he doesn't go to the address. As he is racing across town to get there, other parts begin to disappear off his body.

This is where the mistake comes in. Obviously, they're going to kill him when he reaches the address. However, the radical amputations that the younger version has suffered would drastically alter the future actions he would take, which is specifically why they said they couldn't kill him. Someone didn't think this through.

It does seem that in most time travel movies, the idea of messing up the space-time continuum is something to be concerned about. If time travel ever does become possible, I wonder if that would actually be something that we'd have to be concerned with.

Let's assume that time travel has become possible and we could do it safely. Let's also assume that it hasn't been government regulated as always seems to be the case in the movies. If this were the case, I see all sorts of commercial possibilities.

Let's forget about the ideas of going back in time to do things like buy stock in Apple, secure thousands of acres where Manhattan or Los Angeles will one day be, stop Nickelback from forming,  buy Mickey Mantle baseball cards, or warn your younger self to take care of those Star Wars figurines. I am more interested in the implications for the average working man.

Travel agencies with access to time travel technology would make a fortune. Someone wanting to book a tropical getaway is always taking a gamble on what the weather will be like. We all know someone who paid thousands to go to an exotic beach somewhere and it rained through their entire vacation. However, a travel agency that could send you to any point in time could send you to your destination on a week guaranteed to have excellent weather based on past weather records. They could also make money sending people to experience first hand historical events of their choosing.

How many baseball fanatics would give up their life savings to be in the stands of Wrigley Field on October 1, 1932 when Babe Ruth pointed to center field calling his home run on the next pitch? What would someone pay to be present at the tearing down of the Berlin Wall or the first Wright brothers flight or Michael Jackson catching himself on fire. Many would pay just to go back to re-experience a previous point in their lives. The possibilities are endless.

Pizza places would never have late deliveries again. A person calling in would give all the usual information they give now, but would also be asked when they would like their pizza delivered. The time would be stamped on the ticket and as soon as it was done, the driver would zap himself to the moment in time it was requested and would knock on the door of the customer. Customers could even make a call and ask for it to be delivered right now. As soon as they hung up, they would get a knock on their door. In the event of a mistake on the pizza, the company would fix it and then send the delivery out to arrive seconds before the first one. This would stop the bad one from ever being delivered and the customer would never even know there had been a problem.

This could even be used by families to salvage a bad night. Let's say one of the kids runs through the kitchen as dinner is being placed on the table causing it to be spilled all over the floor. Dinner is now ruined. They could call the time travel pizza delivery to have pizza delivered at the beginning of the night and avoid the entire scene.

Construction contractors who get behind on a job could send their employees back a few days or weeks to double up on manpower and get themselves back on schedule. Stores would never be out of stock again because when the product finally shows up, they can go far enough back in time to stock the shelves before they lost any sales. The cable company would not give you those huge windows of time when they might show up anymore. They could tell you exactly when they would be there and regardless of how busy their day was, they would be there.

Fathers would never have to miss the birth of their children. No one would ever miss their flights and packages would always be delivered in time for the holidays.

A world with time travel would be awesome. As soon as it becomes possible, I'm opening a pizza place. I'll make a fortune.

20 comments:

  1. I love the pizza idea. Here's how I picture it happening.

    Parent: Hey kids, what do you want for dinner?

    *Ding dong*

    Pizza Guy: Hey, your future selves called and told you not to cook tonight.

    Parent: Why not?

    Pizza Guy: I can't tell you sir, that would affect the outcome of the future. Instead, please enjoy this pizza!

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    1. In the extreme cases, a family goes out for dinner and gets in a horrible car accident. The only living person crawls out of the car and calls the pizza place instead of the cops. Ordering a pizza for an hour earlier instead of going out saves the entire family.

      Pizza would revolutionize the world.

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  2. I noticed that mistake in Looper too! As for the business side of time travel, you are definitely onto something.

    Another useful application is you could always go back and fix huge mistakes. Bad marriages would be a thing of the past. Imagine being able to go back and stop yourself from ever watching a Twilight movie.

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    1. It would be great to be able to go back and reclaim wasted time.

      I would pay top dollar to keep a device in my pocket that only had a 90 second range. Right after you say that stupid thing you didn't mean...pull out your device, hit the button, and try it again.

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  3. this post makes my head hurt! but time travel would be cool! i'm reading 11/22/63 by stephen king right now which really thinks all of this through!

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    1. I haven't heard of that one. I'll have to check it out.

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  4. You're talking one of my favorite topics. I look for any time travel movie that I can find. Haven't seen Looper yet but I've been looking forward to doing so.

    I hadn't thought of some of the scenarios you've presented, but that's the beauty of the time travel genre--possibilities are endless.

    Lee
    A Faraway View

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    1. I love debating this stuff. I have never seen a time travel movie that doesn't make some sort of error.

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  5. Time travel freaks me out just a little bit. Probably because I fully believe in the Back to the Future rules of time travel. Also, think of the cost of operation cost of a time traveling pizza guy, sure you might only need two or three delivery guys, but I can't help but think that time travel itself would be wicked expensive. How much would you have to charge per pizza to cover that cost?

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    1. At one time, computers took up entire rooms and could only do basic mathematical formulas. Today, we have more computing power in the palm of our hands (cellphones) than all of NASA had at their disposal while landing men on the moon.

      Time travel will be complicated and expensive when it first comes out, but the free market will find a way to make it cheaper and affordable to the every day man.

      Gotta love capitalism.

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  6. I remember watching "The time Machine" as a kid (and beyond) and watching George push that lever forward towards the future. I remember thinking I'd never go forward; I love the past too much. I guess this is why I don't write science fiction.

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    1. I would probably go into the past also. However, according to Stephen Hawking, if time travel ever does become possible, traveling backwards will not be an option. I don't know why he thinks this.

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  7. I'm not really big on time travel (the most I actually liked was the 3rd Harry Potter) but you did make some excellent points.

    Have you ever seen the movie "The Butterfly Effect"? It's about how changing one little thing can effect lives of everyone you've ever met. It wasn't really my sort of movie, but it was still pretty good. You should check it out if you haven't. (But keep in mind there are some pretty bloody scenes.)

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    1. i did see butterfly Effect and thought he was the whiniest time traveler ever. In each instance, I thought, "Just go back to that spot again and this time don't make the mistake you made."

      It seemed to be an easy fix to me.

      Amy Smart's brother could be stopped without being killed. The mailbox bomb could have gone off without running up to it and losing your arms.

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  8. Wow man, you really thought that that one out.

    I enjoyed Looper immensely, in part because I knew absolutely nothing about it prior to walking into the theater. Continuity errors aside, it was a great flick!

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    1. I agree. I loved it as well.

      I just like to pick the movies apart. I also get a kick out of seeing the boom mike come into view. You'd be amazed how often that happens.

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  9. Dude and I argued time travel semantics so much over the Looper previews that he refused to go see it with me in the theaters for fear that I would be constantly whispering 'see?? see??? that doesn't make sense!' also, THANK YOU for throwing Nickelback under the time travel bus, every time I see that dude's big dumb smile I just wanna holler Off With His Head!

    I'll take a pepperoni and bacon with extra cheese for November 15th, 2042 as I'm sure it will still be my favorite food. You sir, are a genius of business acumen...

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    1. Thank you. It sounds like you have a grasp on this as well. When the time comes, we should go into business together to prevent uneducated idiots from collapsing the universe onto itself.

      Oh, and since pigs will be extinct by 2037, pepperoni just won't be the same anymore. We will have to use time travel to buy the better ingredients.

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  10. I have no thoughts on this...
    The tendency for someone in my/our position would be to say we could make it so we met a long time ago, but I know the person I was a long time ago, and that's still a bad idea. :)

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    1. I could go back in time with your present self to visit both of our past selves to explain things and tell them to get their acts together.

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