Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Time is the Simplest Thing
"There are three dimensions of space, and one of time. It's a bit odd, 'cos the time one keeps on marching onwards. If it were left and right, it'd be like us all continuously moving a bit to the left all the time."
"So you worked out how to travel through time?"
"Oh, everybody can do that! One second at a time into the future. Just staying still is hard. Master that and you've got the rest cracked."
"So how does this work then?" He pointed to the polished brass, glass and dark wooden contraption, glinting in the sunlight of a new day.
"It doesn't. I made that because that is how a time machine is supposed to look. There's no swirling vortex, lightening or a howling gale. Always liked the Time Tunnel or Terminator idea. You even get to travel clothed."
"That's not what you told me when we travelled to Ancient Egypt!"
"Hmm, sorry about that. I was trying to compute your gullibility quotient. It's amazingly high. I digress. The trouble is, you don't see or feel anything," I paused, "Actually, that's not quite true. Everyone feels a little sick going backwards."
"So where is the time machine?"
"Third draw down in the wooden dashboard."
"Third. Cheese and fruit cake in the top drawer. Coffee machine in the second. Got to get your priorities right."
"So anyway, you were saying, three dimensions of space, and one of time."
"Yes, thank you," I hadn't waved my arms unnecessarily for several minutes, "Do you remember my favourite technique for playing a really strong chess computer? Play as well as you can, but when it gets a really good lead over and the game is all but lost, swap sides with it."
I carried on, "What if we swapped time for left and right, or time for up and down, or even with back and forwards?"
"And that does it?"
"Yes, although the first experiment didn't go well, and I swapped left and right for up and down. When it swapped back I had my left elbow in my right ear."
"Then you got it right."
"Indeed but only after I got fed up with getting ear-wax on my elbows. I swapped and found by walking sharply backwards and then putting time back where it belongs I had gone back to last week."
"So that's how it works. I did wonder."
"Left it on last night. It'd swapped up and down with time. When I woke I was 15 feet above the top of the house but hadn't aged a second," I thought about this for a moment, "until I woke up."
"What shall we do now?"
"Did you fancy having that curry from last week again?"
"Won't we be there?"
"Yes, but if we wait until we order and then appear one bay closer to the kitchen they'll serve us the food and won't notice our past selves sitting in the next bay down."
"You know, I don't remember last weeks curry being any good. Ordered, waited for ages, didn't get any food and then they presented a huge bill."
"Hey, the plan worked!"
"Yeah, must have done, let's go..."