Category Archives: Time Traveler’s Guide

Time Traveler’s Guide – Life is Strange

I’ve gone over time machines and magic that allow time travel to occur, but what I haven’t considered is that there are other cases of time travel as well. There are times when strange things happen in the universe that leave us in the grips of time and in Life Is Strange this is certainly the case.

One day Max Caulfield, while in photography class, has a vision, a most real and terrifying vision of an enormous tornado heading to wipe out the town. She comes to as if she were dreaming, but can’t get the images out of her mind or the sense of reality she felt. From what we see in her journal and her interactions with others, Max is a shy girl who isn’t confident in herself. When asked when she’ll turn in a photo for an upcoming contest, she just tries to avoid it. Wanting to hide away from the world around her, she escapes to the bathroom to be alone. At first she reproves herself, “I have a gift,” but then, “Fuck it,” she tears up the photo she was thinking of turning in. What happens next though will lead her down a road most strange.

While hiding in the back of the bathroom, Max witness two people come into the bathroom who get into a heated confrontation. One pulls a gun and someone ends up getting shot. At this moment Max cries out and reaches out toward them and in a few brief moments finds herself back in class at the moment she had woken from her dream. She discovers that she suddenly has the power to reverse time at will. With her new found powers, Max once again goes to the bathroom, but this time intervenes to save the person who was shot.

Time travel has a way of entering into the lives of people without warning. It is yet another caprice of the universe that seemingly chooses its victims at random. Groundhog Day is another example of this, where a person finds themselves caught reliving the same day while remembering everything that happens. These characters travel through time either by their own will or through something else’s. How they choose to use this power or this opportunity is up to them, but the choices they make may affect more than they could ever imagine.

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Time Traveler’s Guide – What’s the point?

So you have the means to travel through time and space, but why do it? Why go through all of the risks involved such as time paradoxes and other potential problems that haven’t been answered yet? Once again I will refer to various anime to give the answers.

Steins;Gate and Dragon Ball Z

apocalypse

One of the best reasons to take the plunge and travel through time is because this is your last and only option. In Steins;Gate, things get out of hand as the Future Gadget Laboratory is raided by SERN. Something terrible happens and Okabe is left with no choice but to try to use a newly created machine that will send him back in time so he might try to change what happened. As a rule of thumb, it seems that even if you are the first potential time traveler in history, and the world is facing an apocalyptic situation, than go ahead, because what could be worse than the apocalypse.

Dragon Ball Z also follows this idea. The future from which Trunks arrives from in the Cell Saga is already living under apocalyptic conditions. Two androids of incredible power ravage the world nearly unopposed, causing destruction and death in their wake. So Trunks goes back to past to warn everyone ahead of time. The strange thing is that Trunks isn’t able to change his own timeline, but is only able to help the timeline he arrives at in the past. As far as any other time travel fiction is concerned, Dragon Ball Z is an oddity from than norm.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Now, there are times when unbeknownst to you, time travel is a necessity. Why? Because someone going back in time is the reason things are the way they happen to be in the present. To go back in time to preserve the events leading to the present is a perfectly good reason for time travel (But a major headache if you think about it too long).

In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, there is the character, Mikuru Asahina, who is a time traveler sent back from the future to keep an eye on events surrounding Haruhi. Occasionally, Kyon, the main character, also meets with an older Mikuru, who comes from further in the future. During the anime and movie, it is interesting to see that for Kyon, going back in time is almost a fated event. Kyon’s actions that effect the past are something that have already happened.

Kyon: “Hey Nagato, Asahina-san is really a time traveler right?”

Nagato: “Yes.”

Kyon: “If that’s the case, I feel a contradiction regarding the process of time travel. ”

Izumi: “Your point being…”

Kyon: “Before, Asahina-san said there was no continuity between past and future. But in the end, I wound up going back in time three years and gave Haruhi superfluous information… and there’s the possibily that this information caused Haruhi to come to North High to look for non-humans in the first place.”

“In other words, there is some connection between the past and future. Doesn’t this contradict what Asahina-san told me?”

Nagato: “As there is no set conclusion to the paradox theory, there is no way to prove that there is no paradox.”

Kyon: “You might consider that an adequate explanation…”

Nagato: “Soon you’ll understand.”

I understand, maybe, but if I think about it too long… my head hurts.

Because time travel is tiring work
Because time travel is tiring work

Sometimes going back in time is merely what was meant to happen. If Kyon didn’t go back into the past… well Haruhi may not have ever met Kyon in the first place. I won’t go into too many details as to everything that happens to avoid spoilers.

Conclusions

And there you have it, two really good reasons to travel back in time. It may be a little selfish to risk the destruction of the universe on a time paradox, but an apocalyptic event is something nearly anyone would want to avoid.

Also, without knowing it, traveling back in time and effecting something in the past may be something that needs to happen (in fact it already has happened–headache inducing).

Time Traveler’s Guide – Reading Steiner

Welcome again to the continuation of The Time Traveler’s Guide. Today I will be discussing a particular problem that time travelers will face, and that is keeping their mental state intact despite changing the past. This problem also exists for those who are part of an effected world line. If you don’t know what a world line is check out my previous post. Essentially, if a world line is altered than everyone within that world line will become altered as well. A person may cease to exist, or their memories will change accordingly to fit the new world line.

Understand that world lines exist as part of the parallel universe theory where many divergent future exists. Say you live in world line ‘A’ and currently you exist in time and space at a point on this line. If you were able to move back to a previous point and alter a significant event or perhaps even an apparently insignificant event, the future beyond the previous point would no longer belong to world line ‘A,’ but would belong to a new world line because the path has branched off from ‘A’.

Spoiler alert

Steins;Gate and the Reading Steiner

Now I will introduce the concept made by Steins;Gate, the Reading Steiner. The main character Okabe Rintarou, an eccentric, named the ability, not me. The Reading SteinerĀ  is the ability to retain one’s mental state including all the memories they have experienced so far after a world line shift. Okabe is the only person aware of the shifting line, while others are oblivious to the change. Everyone’s memories except Okabe have in a sense been deleted and replaced by the memories of the new world line. This is the Reading Steiner. Other characters begin to show signs of having memories from other world lines, but only after a significant provocation. The other characters could be said to have the Reading Steiner ability, but at such a degree that it is almost untraceable.

Many time travelers exist in fiction, who despite changing the past remain the same person. They too must have the Reading Steiner ability, or their own memories and experiences would be altered.


 

While these next anime series don’t necessarily have the Reading Steiner ability, they do share some similarities.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn!

In Hitman Reborn!, the character Byakuran has an ability very similar to the Reading Steiner. After he meets the same person in two different world lines, Byakuran awakens the ability to share the knowledge and experience of every Byakuran from parallel universes.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

In Madoka Magica, Homura travels back in time and essentially replaces the consciousness of herself in the past. Unlike conventional time travel, where meeting oneself is possible, Homura completely takes the place of herself in the past. Similar to Steins;Gate, Homura is unable to make significant changes along the world line to reach a different future through many of her attempts. Strangely enough, by making so many attempts Homura finally creates a path to a new future–not by a single action that changes the future, but through the entire process of going back in time over and over again.

Dragon Ball Z

This series uses another theory where despite changing the path of a world line, one is able to travel the original path back to the future. When Trunks goes back in time and changes the events of the past, he is still able to return the future from which he came. He has effectively changed the world lines path. Doing so in Steins;Gate would mean that Trunks path to the future would now move along a new path and lead to a different future, but he is able to return to the same future he traveled from.

Time Traveler’s Guide – World Lines

So you want to be a time traveler? Well if you ever get your hands on a time machine, find a magical portal, or discover you can time travel at will, you are in luck! I’m going to be releasing a series to explain the benefits and pit falls of time travel, so you’ll be ready to take that harrowing trip through time and space.

Time Paradox and World Lines

There are however many considerations to take into account before starting a trek through time and space. One of the most regarded problems involves the potential of creating a time paradox. Famously, there is the idea that if one were to go back in time and cause the death of one’s own grandfather, than the question of the one going back in time becomes a paradox. How would that person have come to exist to go back in time to cause the death of their grandfather if they never existed in the first place. Theories abound concerning time paradoxes. One way of handling these paradoxes is the theory of world lines or parallel universes. Say you went back in time and did cause the death of your own grandfather. Instead of challenging your own existence, you have merely changed one world line where you would never be born. However the world line you came from would still exist in parallel to the changed world. It might be trick though returning to that world line. In this way you could say that both world lines exist and remain unalterable and self contained. Of course the number of such world lines would have to approach an infinite number. Events that would normally cause a paradox are simply gateways which link such world lines together. If such an event occurs, the world line shifts appropriately.

Steins;Gate

Let’s get a little help from anime now shall we. In Steins;Gate Okabe Rintarou has a very bizarre experience and finds himself searching for answers. Familiar with John Titor, a real figure who claimed to have come from the future, Okabe seeks information out online and discovers something strange, John Titor is relatively unknown. All of Okabe’s previous information and books on Titor are missing and no one else seems to know of him. He finds John Titor has recently appeared online in what looks something like 4chan and Okabe reads and joins the discussion.

John Titor: “You mean the so-called Grandfather Paradox, right? There’s no such thing. It’s possible to meet yourself in the past. If you do, you simply move world lines. Let me begin by saying that time isn’t a single line, moving from past to future. It’s comprised of an infinite number of parallel lines, like rivers, called ‘world lines.’ For example, let’s say a serial killer was to murder you today. If I came from the future and prevented it, the world would diverge into two streams: a world in which you survive and a world in which you died.”

This pretty much follows what I discussed before. Time moves in an endless number of streams leading towards many different futures. The idea is that these world lines all exist within the fabric of space and time. To travel back in time is to move backwards in the stream. In order to reach a different future, one would have to go back to point where the path to that future began and make the subsequent changes.

John Titor: “You all seem to have fixed ideas about the nature of time. Time isn’t a single line, moving from past to future. Let’s say I were to go back in time and kill someone we’ll call ‘A.’ This alters something called the divergence number, and the world line moves to a world without A. When there’s a world line shift, people’s memories are altered. In other words, memories of the world line where A existed are deleted, and replaced with memories of a world line where A doesn’t exist.”

John Titor is explaining what might happen if someone were to attempt to change the future. He posits that when the divergence number is altered by an event, such as someone being killed in the past, the present would shift world lines to a world where that person had been killed. This shift would be instantaneous and everyone would completely forget the events of the previous world where that person had lived. The shift would go unnoticed and life would continue as if nothing unusual had happened at all.

So don’t be too worried about creating a time paradox, because world line theory has got you covered!