Timestream Post: A Note from 10.7.2010

12 12 2010

10/07/2010; 09:04am

It’s October 7th, and in a few moments I’m heading out to the National Archives in Chicago in search of NERVA (the joint NASA-Atomic Energy Commission program to develop nuclear thermal rockets) material and program files.

As this is another of my digital time-travel experiment messages, I’m sending this far enough out to encompass a time-span necessary to answer my questions…  (As I see it, anyway.  My Nuclear Rocket Program term paper is due in early December.)

What will I find?  Archivists tell me I’m the first to have seriously requested access to these records in nearly three decades.

I’m terribly excited! – the anticipation!

Will I find the photos of phoebus reactors I’m looking for?  Do I unearth management information for my space studies class term paper?  Any surprises in store?

I can’t wait!  =)

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Timestream Post: A Note from 10.21.2010

8 11 2010

Almost time...

-Just a short-range temporal pot-shot this evening, and one I imagine (won’t know for certain until we get there) will be the first of these digital time travel experiment messages to actually land in the future.

The date is October 21st, 2010.  Honestly, I’m really hoping to be where you are, intrepid reader: The future.

I’m just about to proctor a geology 101 practical midterm on mineral and rock identification at the community college, and this is only the beginning of what I expect will be one of the longest, most sleep-deprived weeks of my life so far.  Due to an unfortunate coincidence of schedule shifts, I now have three midterms of my own to take within the next week-and-a-half, in addition to two rather hefty papers to write, and a radiation physics problem set sprinkled on top to complete within the next week.  (This is in addition to finding time to grade and submit the midterms I’m going to be giving here in a few minutes.)  All after work, of course.

That, and I’m staring the final hours of my 20s in the face.  Daunting is the word of the hour.

So, I’m very curious and a bit apprehensive:  Will my 30s begin with a bang or a whimper?  Can I still pull college-style, all-nighter-cram-sessions?  Do these next weeks all pan out with positive results?  Let me know!

Hopeful about the future on 10/21/2010, 5:35pm





Another Time Traveler found in 1928 film?

29 10 2010

Chatty time traveler in 1928 movie scene background?

Just as with this 21st-Century hipster discovered at a Canadian bridge dedication in the 1940s, another historical anachronism has been spotted, this time in the 1928 Charlie Chaplin film, The Circus.  As reported by the U.K. Daily Mail, a Chaplin film expert discovered an older woman walking alone across the background of a scene in The Circus, and she is talking toward an object she is holding to her ear.

For all the world, she appears to be using a mobile phone.  (I highly recommend checking out the Daily Mail link, which includes an embedded video.)

Excitingly, this is the second high-profile anachronistic discovery within the last year, and if “time tourism” really does come into being, we can expect to discover more as the common body of historical material becomes digitized and universally search-able/accessible.

Without any compelling alternative explanations for what it is the woman is doing, it is tempting to leap to the conclusion that this is an legitimate “find.”  -And, if we take a moment to deconstruct the logic of such a scenario, interesting issues and implications arise:

  • Taking the position that the object is a phone in the hands of a genuine time-traveler, this could not possibly be a standard “cellular” phone.  The transmission network to process a signal from modern-day phones wouldn’t come to exist for nearly another 70 years.  (So, at the very least, to be useful at that time the device would have to work more like a 2-way radio.)  So, is it a “phone” …?  Probably not.  A communication device?  -Plausible.
  • Who is she talking to?  -Can we now infer that time-travelers, (like all good field explorers,) employ the buddy system?
  • Time travel cannot be very physically-demanding, as this woman (appears) to be in relatively ordinary physical condition.  (i.e., unlike the time-traveler in the 1940s image, she’s not a young, fit “field” type, and she has evidently made the trip.)
  • What are the odds of catching this on film?  Would a time traveler be unaware of the filming of a Charlie Chaplin film and be careless enough, (presuming leaving evidence of temporal tinkering is considered to be a bad thing,) to walk in front of the camera?  Does this imply an incredible coincidence?  -Or are time-travelers ubiquitous in history?

All in all, a very interesting development.  -Keep your eyes peeled next time you’re in the local library or museum.





Time Experiment: Digital Time Travel

9 09 2010

Scientia in Posterus. (Credit: Ben McGee)

In the interest of exploring some of the more intriguing implications of our ubiquitous Cyberverse, I’ve decided to attempt to use WordPress as something of a digital time machine.

You see, there’s a “Schedule” feature for blog posts that I realized should work as long as WordPress and the Internet are around, and through it, we may be able to send information across immense spans of time.  (Sure, this feature is intended to make it easy to spread out posts over the course of days or weeks, but why not send messages a year, a decade, a century, or a millennium out?)

-So, presuming the digital infrastructure is going to exist for a while, I’m going to send messages from the present into the future at regular intervals, and each message will be sent to an exponentially-more-distant temporal location.  (E.g., one month, 6 months, 1 year, 10 years, etc.)

Then, when I receive a message from my past self, I’ll post an honest reply as though I were having a real-time conversation with myself in the past.  The conversation might be light or very revealing, depending on what mood it is that’s prompted me to talk to the future – and I’ll do my best to answer in kind.  In this way, we’ll see if I can’t engage in a bizarre, superchronistic conversation across the very fabric of linear time.

(For the interested, I’ve created a new post category called, “Digital Time Travel,” which will chronicle the experiment.)

…And, the kicker here is that to my surprise, I’ve already started the experiment.  As it would turn out, I had a similar idea months ago and already sent a message into the future.  However, at the time I thought it’d be a one-time deal – a single digital time capsule.  Now, I think it’d be better-suited as a long-term experiment; An exchange that breaks the timestream.

Anyway, I thought I’d put the experiment out there so that when messages from the past start showing up on my blog in the present, everyone won’t assume I’ve finally gone all the way around the bend.

(Man, in the spirit of the experiment, I can’t wait to tell my past self what he involuntarily started when that original “time capsule” message finally arrives…)

Time flies, and I hope to invoke some turbulence.





Hawking promotes forward-only Time Travel

6 05 2010

Eminent physicist and cosmologist Dr. Stephen Hawking has recently come out to say that he no longer fears ridicule and endorses the possibility of time travel.  While this might seem like a revelation, his actual endorsement is not.  Let me explain.

Einstein’s Special Relativity has shown for nearly the last century that objects appear to move through time more slowly the faster they move through space.  This phenomenon has been measured, though the effect is so slight in everyday experience that physicists ignore it.  However, if astronauts were to travel in a spaceship very close to the speed of light, (a version of the Twin Paradox,) the effect would be very pronounced (see: Time Dilation), and our intrepid explorers would zoom forward in time – in a few years time spent away for the astronauts, the Earth and everyone on it will have aged centuries.

This is the only sort of time travel Dr. Hawking has come out to endorse – forward time travel as a result of moving quickly – which, as I mentioned above, has been a known effect for nearly a hundred years.  Backward time travel in Dr. Hawking’s view is still impossible because it would allow violations of causality, which bother him.  (Endorsing that kind of time travel would have truly been a revelation!)

So, nothing new here.  However, anything that gets the physics of Relativity and time travel into public media is okay in my book!

…and being that Dr. Hawking is so clever, maybe that was his intent all along.





The First Frontier, part 1. (Time update)

2 03 2010

This blog was created to document two things, and so far, I’ve only mentioned the first.  The second of these two objectives is the creation of a Time Machine.

As for this post’s title, I’ve taken to calling Time the First Frontier.  This is for the following reason: Since serious philosophical and (proto)scientific inquiry began into the nature of things thousands of years ago, before we were even aware of outer space and the universe at large, the nature of Time has been given serious and constant attention.  And, unlike the nature of thought, belief, medicine, life, physics, geology, and astronomy, there has been little (if any) progress toward a greater understanding of Time since Aristotle.  Hence, I feel like Time has position.  Plus, could any concept exist without first considering Time?  (What is a tree?  Or more to the point, when is a tree a tree?  A seed?  After one year of growth as a sapling?  After 10-years of growth?  100-years?)

Also, I recognize that the distance between time travel and space exploration may appear great, so one may be given to wonder why I’m pursuing both.  However, the divide is not so wide as it seems.  Given the insurmountable distances involved with the prospect of traveling between even the nearest stars, what is a practical starship but a time machine that moves?  …Something to think about.

In any event, since I’ve made a bit of progress on this front as well, (at least in a theoretical sense,) I figured I’d recap my work to date.

Back in High School, I was deep into familiarizing myself with Einstein’s Relativity.  Trolling the university library on the weekends, (when I wasn’t out hiking in Red Rock Canyon,) I found that Special Relativity held specific interest to me because it defined every apparent impossible operation of the universe:  Light always travels the same speed even to different obververs moving at different speeds.  Time slows down as you approach the speed of light.  Light speed is a barrier to all movement.  The sequence of events in the universe can be variable.

These were profound and confounding statements which no one seemed either to question or to fully understand.  Even into college, so-called “relativistic effects” were swept away as oddities experienced at extreme speed with no practical application to physics or our general understanding.  Something in my gut made me feel as though they couldn’t have been more wrong.

The most “advanced” academics in theoretical physics typically have said that Time does not, in effect, actually exist.  It’s an illusion, as are ideas of Doc Brown jumping into a nuclear-powered time-traveling automobile to change the past or future.  The past no longer exists, and the future doesn’t yet exist.  There is just the now.  They have a point – it makes sense that time is just another measurement tool, like an inch or a pound.  I can’t hand you an inch or a pound, but we use them frequently.  Time, then, is the same, but instead of measuring length or weight, time measures causality.  It’s just something we invented to help quanitfy and measure the change that is ubiquitous in the Universe.

But there’s a problem.

I realized with clarity for the first time in the year 2000 that if the time experienced by something could change based upon how it moves, (as Relativity predicted and we subsequently measured,) then some part of time must exist.  In so many words, because Relativity works, Time cannot be completely illusory.

Thus I began the earliest stages of developing a new language of physics reordered with respect to Time.  I would come to call it Temporal Mechanics in a paper published 6 years later, where I would claim (prove?) that physical Time does exist and in doing so turn interpretations of Special Relativity and the Twin Paradox on their heads.

To be continued…





A beginning is a very delicate time…

18 02 2010

Hello, and thanks for visiting my corner of the cyberverse.  I’m a nigh-thirty-year-old theoretical-physics-inclined geologist who’s spent his entire life with his eyes toward the stars and is playing a tactical gambit to reach them.

To start, let me make a note on the blog title.  “Astro” relates (obviously) to stars, celestial objects, or outer space.  “Wright,” in its archaic form, means, “A maker or builder,” and just happens to (conveniently) be part of my name.  (Think “playwright.”)  So, I see an “astrowright” as a person whose creations or work directly relates to space and space exploration.  -Someone I’d like to be.  And secondly, I’ve also had an interest in the physics of time and Einstein’s Relativity since high school, and I honestly believe that there is a way to get around the pesky barriers to time travel.

So, aside from including my thoughts on space exploration and the latest news and discoveries on the scientific frontier, it’s my intent that this blog will document my attempt to do two things:

1) Get off of the planet

2) Build a time machine

So, over the top?  Perhaps.  Sincere?  Absolutely.

Is anything possible if you put your mind to it?  Let’s find out.

`Ben Wright McGee








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