Archive for November 9th, 2020

All Possible Worlds

Time is constantly branching.  Every single time a decision is made or chance operates to produce one of several distinct outcomes, a different timeline – a parallel world, if you like – is created for each of the possible outcomes.  If time travel is possible, the only one of these realities accessible to the traveler is the one resulting from conditions at the point where he leaves ordinary time to move through the time-stream.  In other words, if our hypothetical time-traveler went back in time and murdered his own grandfather before he could reproduce, he could then only travel forward to the timeline resulting from that action, in other words one in which he himself did not exist.  But he himself originated in a diferent timeline; though he could never return to that world, and there would be no official record or living memory of him in the world where he was trapped, those he left behind in his own reality would remember him just fine.  They would simply perceive him as having vanished without a trace from the moment he activated his time machine, never to return.  If time travel is even possible, it must work this way in order to avoid a nonsensical paradox:  if the version of himself which broke the timeline ceased to exist when he did so, then he never existed to travel in time to break the timeline in the first place.  He wouldn’t fade out of a photograph he carried from his own world, nor would his body fade away; he would be just as real and solid as ever, albeit stranded in a world of his own creation where he never existed.  Both worlds are equally real, but our traveler is an alien marooned in one to which he is not native and does not belong.  The worlds of causality are completely countless, infinity raised to the power of infinity, but though vast numbers of them may be so alike as to be indistinguishable, the gulf between them – delineated as it is by a dimension of existence we are powerless to bridge – is even more impassable than the void between the galaxies. 

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