If you could travel anywhere in time, would you? Should you? How conditioned are we by the science and words around us? And where does our future lie; in front, behind or all around us? Does free will exist, or are our futures pre-determined? Are we moving toward order or disorder? Is eternity an open or closed system? Is the Universe one big mathematical formula that’s waiting to be figured out? Mr. James Gleick has some answers.
Bestselling author, journalist, and science historian James Gleick, has been called one of the great science writers of all time. His most recent book is Time Travel: A History. And it takes us on a wild ride on the Wayback machine through the history of time travel – a dimension hopping anthology of sorts.
Gleick tells us, “Time travel is a fantasy of the modern era…No one bothered with the future in 1516. It was indistinguishable from the present.” In the twenties the future seemed to be arriving daily. Time travel took shape in the pages of the Pulps. But James Joyce, Virginia wolf and Marcel Proust – were all time traveler writers – thinking about time travel in exciting fluid ways. Fiction writer HG Wells along with world renowned scientists were focused on the fourth dimension. It was born in fantasy and validated by Albert Einstein.
The meaning of time was altered and it conceptually became like a fourth dimension of space – the whole world was learning new things about time because of new technologies – railroads and telegraphs to synchronize clocks across hundreds of miles, geologists looking at billions of years of history and biologists comparing ancient fossils and specie development, literal perspectives were being altered.
So if a hole opens up in the air, would you walk through it, and which way would you turn the dial, forward or back? Meeting yourself as a time traveler could get tricky, and what happens next? It could get messy, problems with free will, continuity of the self and destiny. As Gleick well reminds us, “ A lot of paradoxes in the time travel business…” Ready to go?