Complex 3D Time

Can complex number theory be applied to time? Would a “complex time” component would effectively turn a time line into a time plane (or time volume?) possibly allowing for multitasking?

complex wall clock

Here’s my wall clock. Again. I ‘introduced’ it and its angle on warped space time in this post back in October 2013. That’s not really that long ago, but the clock’s given up the ghost now and moved on to places and times beyond the ken of humankind.

I admit it – I’m playing with your perspective here! Naturally the wall clock’s off the wall, but it’s also been in the hands of my young daughter (after the time of death! 😉 )

Do you ever have time on your hands? My daughter did – and this is how my clock looks from another angle after she’d finished with it.

My old knackered clock

Her child’s play got me thinking about the ‘normal’ movement of hands around a clock. What if they could move not only clockwise on the plane of the clock face, but also in the third dimension?

It sounds like it might be complex…

Complex time

Time moves linearly – usually forwards – hence we have a time line. We also have number lines (also linear) which range from lower integer values, through real numbers to the next highest integer, and so on. Or in reverse if we count backwards.

Linear number line
Linear number line (image credit:

But perpendicular movement is possible on the number line – “complex numbers” (multiples of the square root of minus 1, often denoted by i or j) explain a deviation away from the time line along the “imaginary axis”.

Complex numbers provide perpendicular movement
Imaginary numbers (denoted j) provide a way for perpendicular movement away from the number line (real axis) (Image credit:

So can complex number theory allow for a similar methodology to be applied to time? Can there be a “complex time” component which effectively turns a time line into a time plane? Or a time volume?

complex time is similar to a sundial

Admittedly, this might look a little like a sundial with pturned hands casting time shadows across the clock face area.

I remember watching a lunar eclipse and someone nearby mentioned that this was the largest shadow that there was. Being keen on astronomy (and a nerd with no social skills) I was compelled to mention that actually the shadow on the moon was just a 2D image of the 3D shadow of the Earth which projected into space and struck the moon.

Perhaps as sundials signaled the advent of clocks and telling the time, they may also signal the beginning of an understanding multi-dimensional time.

Now, I’m not a mathematician but is this idea of complex time something which can be worked out further?

is complex time the solution for multitasking?
Is complex time the solution for multitasking? (Image credit:

Practically speaking I’m guessing the realisation of complex time into the real everyday world would be something similar to multitasking (something my wife’s good at).

Worth a try, surely? Is 3D time so complex? Or is it just child’s play? 😉

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Church Bells – a link with history?

Can we accept that church bells chiming “now” aren’t for ‘just’ now but that they’re a link through time where the past is connected through the present and into the future?

A couple of decades ago I was sitting in my English literature class which I was destined to fail. We were reading DH Lawrence’s “The Rainbow”. This – according to my teacher – was a novel where a spade wasn’t a spade. A horse in a field wasn’t a horse, it was a phallic symbol, for example. A church spire wasn’t a church spire, it was a vertical connection between Heaven and Earth.

Today, as church bells toll a couple of decades later, I am reminded of the nonsentities of literature – and of how much I hate church bells.

The bells, the bells 🙁

Old church bell.
Are church bells really as old as they look, or do they have an apparent age? When they toll it seems like they go on forever 🙁

The passing of time doesn’t need to be clanged out for us, especially by the bell in my local village which clangs every quarter hour – dark, ominous and with a terrible sense of foreboding . And then there’s the ordeal on the hour – or some other randomly allotted time – when the clanging is seemingly as relentless as Einstein’s use of a hot stove as a chair. It goes on forever 🙁

There’s nothing inspiring, there’s nothing but…a clanger whacking the side of a piece of circular metal which has hung there for God knows how many decades. Perhaps centuries.

Spatial synchronisation

Church bells link time and nature?
Church bells ring out across nature and nations

The bells in my village aren’t the only ones causing this nationwide – in fact – international, sonorous display of monstrous monotony. The bells clang at the same time as other bells in other towns and villages, other countries and continents. Stamping out time’s beat at the same time in different places, a spatial synchronisation even across time zones.

They’ve always done it. Today. Yesterday. Last week. Last year…and all through the ages.

The spatial synchronisation is clear, but I think there’s an argument for a temporal synchronisation too.

Temporal synchronisation

My wife says that she likes the sound of church bells not for the sound they make (seriously…who does?) but because they represent a connection to history.

Clanging church bell disturbs

Can it be true that the church bells connect each moment in time? That the chime on the hour marks not only the passing of the hour here and the passing of the hour across the world, but that it also marks it for days gone by?

In other words, the one o’clock chime today also marks one o’clock yesterday, last week and all of the one o’clocks back through history? (And by extension – in the opposite direction – all of the one o’clocks in the future?)

There was a TV commercial several years ago which was trying to flog watches. According to the advert a watch didn’t tell the time, it marked the moments of memories and gave promise for moments in the future.

Much as I hate to agree with marketing directors, I agree. We celebrate dates with no question – birthdays and anniversaries, for example. Why not increase the temporal resolution to monthly, weekly, daily…or hourly? (It makes sense – young couples celebrate in this manner!) Passing hours on a clock are of huge importance, not just for now, but also for what has gone before as well as what it to come.

So perhaps we can accept that “now” isn’t ‘just’ now and that it’s a link through time where the past is linked through the chiming present and into the future.

Church bells then. A noisy insult to nature – or working with(in) it giving us a direct link across time?


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Film: Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus

Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus (William Rosenthal and Tristram Geary) is an action Sci-Fi film about how the world would react if time travel was a virus. Does biological time travel have a head start on us?

Echo/Back – The Time Travel Virus

A couple of weeks ago William Rosenthal shared his film with me and asked what I thought of it. Will co-wrote and co-produced “Echo/Back – The Time Travel Virus” with director Tristram Geary. In his own words, “it’s an action sci-fi about how the world would react if time travel was a virus.”

A question of authority

The premise of the film is a simple one – that authorities who control us don’t like the idea that history can be changed. In some ways I echo their sentiment, though with the authorities it’s more sinister – they wish to remain in control and “Time travel dissolves their power”.

The ability to time travel is not attained through technology but by contracting a virus. There are echoes of the X-Men movies where the infected (i.e. those who are different to the societal ‘norm’) are forced to register or submit to the authorities.

In Echo/Back – The Time Travel Virus we identify with the main character, Vance (as we tend to with the X-Men), who in a way for us represents the underdog, albeit infected with the time travel disease (or who has advanced powers).

But it’s a possibility that there may be others who have less scruples than Vance and who would use time travel for more sinister purposes. For example, not just stopping the authorities making our decisions for us, but standing in their place, or other reasons for self gain and harm to others.

Then again, we don’t really know why Vance is being hunted, do we?

Biological time travel

We don’t always need a time machine to time travel.

In X-men: Days of Future Past biological time travel comes through accelerated or staggered evolution. In Edge of Tomorrow a time loop is set up through contact with blood from an “Alpha Mimic” (an alien).

And here Echo Back is similar – time travel comes to a select few through contracting virus. There’s no time machine, no flux capacitor and no TARDIS. Time travel is of a more natural origin – albeit unwelcome (by some).

The neanderthal reaction to something we don't understand is to club it.

I can’t help recognising the basic Neanderthal reaction in Echo Back – if we don’t understand it, whack it over the head with a club. Or a gun. It seems a shame (perhaps) that the authorities don’t think to approach the problem intelligently. Why not try to develop a ‘cure’ for the time travel virus? Or come to think of it, deliberately contract the time travel disease themselves to keep themselves ahead in the game?

Neanderthal reaction in Echo Back - The Time Travel Virus
Neanderthal reaction in Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus

(One of these guys is played by Will…)

Biological problems often require biological solutions.

Actually, technological problems often require biological solutions too and we see that technology frequently seeks to emulate nature. Nature is often just much better at things than we are – she can provide the strongest materials, the strongest glue, the most beautiful artwork, etc. and generally speaking it seems that we try to mimic nature where we can. Bullet-proof vests, velcro, swimming technologies…

We’ve always done it, and to quote the source of the image below, “Stone Age man copied Nature by wearing the fur of slaughtered animals to keep warm.” (

Nature's echo - technological problems often require biological solutions
Image source: (Illustration: Mette Friis-Mikkelsen)

Whilst we can sit with a pen and paper and work things out, even develop computers or other tools to help us do that quicker, it’s much more difficult to develop biological solutions to assist us with life’s obstacles. Copying, or being inspired by Nature is much easier.

My personal thought is that for whilst theoretical physicists are beavering and banging away at Einstein’s equations to find out if – and if so, how – we can travel in time, Nature is probably busy finding it’s own way. Maybe it’s already got there. And when it’s found or evolved or contracted, we’ll imitate it with our trailing technology.

Or maybe just whack it on the head.

Interview with William Rosenthal and Tristram Geary

In this interview with director, writers and producers William Rosenthal and Tristram Geary we get a behind the scenes view on Echo Back, as well as their personal thoughts behind some of the ideas they’ve written into their film!

Time is a precious commodity – Will and Tristram, many thanks for giving us some of yours!

The fight between the authorities and Vance might be viewed as a clash between technology and biology. Given enough time for development / evolution, would you consider technology or biology to have the upper hand?

In the earlier stages, while the ability is new and underdeveloped, technology (and existing power structures) would very easily mobilise to control it. However, time travel is such an incredible advancement that it simply couldn’t be contained forever. Ultimately, we feel technology and human ingenuity would make time travel more efficient, and expand its possibilities. It may be positive or negative, weaponisation or integration, but as long as we humans have such inquisitive minds, it feels like our biology will always be shackled to our technology.

Physical limitations are well known when it comes to operating technology and we see how you’ve incorporated biological limitations into your time travel method – avoiding cleanly the grandfather paradox and the creation of ‘major’ alternate histories! Were there any aspects of time travel that were difficult to incorporate into Echo Back and how did you solve them?

Oh absolutely! Time travel in fiction is so tricky, partly because you need to make something physically impossible at least internally consistent, but also because it needs to be emotionally satisfying in some way.

Logistically, it was quite difficult to come up with a scenario that would clearly demonstrate the power of small time jumps. We eventually figured out that we needed a clear space or object- something that moved or reverted whenever Vance jumped back in time.

The action also helped, as the audience can see Vance learn through trial and error (and injury!)We wanted to show that despite the huge advantages of this ability, there are still plenty of limitations. We also needed to work out some tactics and technology that would give the police an upper hand.

Can you explain the “Echo” aspect in the film title?

Well firstly of course, there’s the idiom ‘to echo back’, meaning to evoke something similar from the past. The way in which the world reacts to time travel is similar to other, world-changing phenomena; excitement, fear, and ultimately a desire for control. The nature and mandate of governments means that they’ll always aim to regulate things, the internet for example. Sometimes that’s a helpful step, other times, less so.

It’s also a reference to the mechanism of our form of time travel. In the film, Vance jumps through what is essentially the same scenario many, many times. Each variation shares the same key features, but is slightly distorted from its predecessor; like an echo.

To turn things upside down, how do you think people would feel if their local authority was able to time travel and they weren’t?

As regular citizens, we’re already very much at the mercy of our systems and those more powerful than us. Authorities can monitor your phone activity, control the legitimate use of violence, and make decisions daily that most of us will never know about but which will profoundly affect our lives. Now, these aren’t always bad things- you could argue they’re necessary components of a government- but time travel would probably just be another (albeit near-omnipotent) string in their bow.

However, who knows, a shift in power this enormous might actually galvanise many people into protest and defiance. Instead of being the ultimate weapon for control, time travel could be the catalyst for a regime’s unravelling.

Are there any plans for a sequel / prequel to Echo Back?

Actually, we’ve drafted a screenplay for a feature film, so we’d love to see the concept explored further!

How did you go about writing Echo Back? Did you write, then ‘convert’ it into a screenplay, or did you write it as a screen play from the outset?

We always intended to convert the basic time travel mechanism into some sort of film, but we initially had very few specifics beyond that. Our excitement about the premise meant that we spent some time throwing ideas at each other. How would it work on an individual level? How heavily could it shake the world’s establishments? What would it mean for how we perceive death? Given our miniscule budget, we were obviously limited in what we could show, but we still wanted to express as many of these possibilities as we could- hence the narrated sections.

As a scientist I’m told that I need to spend about an hour in preparation for each slide I present at a conference. I can’t help considering that a movie comprises many frames per second, and arguably the story line is much more important! How long did it take to make this film?

We spent roughly three months on pre-production, including design, costume, rehearsal, choreography, and searching for locations.

We were extremely fortunate to get David on board to play Vance. On the day of filming, he spent about 16 consecutive hours being beaten up. Our budget limited us to just one day with the camera and shooting gear, so we had to make the most of it! He and the rest of our small, brilliant crew of volunteers were consummately professional and seriously hard workers.

Our tiny post-production crew spent the next months editing, sound editing, scoring, and crafting effects. It really was a huge undertaking for a small number of dedicated people.

I love the interplay between the narration (done by Tristram) and the action sequences which show the more physical side of the battle between the authorities and time travellers. Were there times when you struggled to mesh these two techniques together?

Fantastic to hear you liked it! It was definitely a difficult pairing to balance. We wanted to expose the audience to a larger world, while not encroaching too heavily on the emotional flow of the action sequence. The parallels with broader time travel struggles also hopefully reinforced Vance’s motivation and determination. However, we also couldn’t get too specific in describing these events, as it could jerk viewers out of his immediate predicament. Definitely a challenge!

Will and Tristram, many thanks again for your time – for both the interview and for creating Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus! I’m really excited to hear that you’ve got plans for a feature film!!

Follow Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus on Facebook and Twitter (@EchoBackMovie).

Edit: Will and Tristram have since compiled an “Action Cut” of Echo Back – The Time Travel Virus which offers us (yet) another view into the original film. Vance’s physical exhaustion and also his frustration in his need to endure the authorities and the masses really shines through in this cut. I’ve written a short piece (with the link to Action Cut) which touches on the ideas of other people’s role when you relive your life. It’s clearly not always for the better!


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Groundhog Day…again?

The classic movie Groundhog Day makes the basic assumption that February 2 will repeatedly come around again and again. It sounds like a dangerous approach…

After reading Buckyball (Fabien Roy) I somehow got round to watching Groundhog Day. Again.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is the classic 1993 movie where grumpy chops weather man Phil Connors repeatedly wakes up at 06:00 on February 2nd (“Groundhog Day”). No matter what he does, everything excepting his memory resets. “He’s having the day of his life…over and over again”.

Calendar for the movie Groundhog Day
Image credit:

Of course Groundhog Day is all Hollywooded up, but it’s still a great movie which asks the question: how would you spend your day if you lived it again and again with no consequences?

Poster for Groundhog Day with heads
Phil has it in his head that he’ll relive today

In the movie the main character Phil Connors assumes that no consequences means that you can do whatever you like. We see him driving recklessly, stealing money, being violent and eating ‘badly’ (a big no-no for Hollywood types I guess!) – all because he knows that February 3rd won’t come around and that any actions he takes (or causes other people to take) will be wiped away. No consequences.

Of particular note is that memories of other people are also wiped away, and Phil utilises this to manipulate people by memorising what he thinks are the right or correct answers to elicit certain actions from them the next time February 2nd comes around.

In other words, Phil operates with the certainty that tomorrow won’t come. After all, “It didn’t yesterday.”

And for me this is the sticky point. How does Phil know that he’ll get to relive February 2nd all over again with a clean slate? What is going on, why and what the boundaries are, are not fully known. It’s certainly not fully understood.

So it seems to me like a big risk to take. Phil steals money, but if the phenomenon vanishes as mysteriously as it came in the first place, then Phil will be (rightfully) facing a term in jail instead of reliving the day to steal that money again. The deadly outcome of his suicide attempts is morbidly clear.

I touched on the morals of changing the past last week. But is the past actually being revisited here in Groundhog Day, or are the events simply happening again?

There aren’t two versions of Phil so it’s probably not a revisit.

Whereas Phil retains his knowledge every time February 2 comes around, other characters don’t. It seems that for them this is the first time that they’re experiencing this day.

Surely this can’t be true? My wife noticed it as well – if February 2 is having multiple versions, then the other characters in the novel must be experiencing this day for multiple times too…even if they don’t realise it. The question is: why is it that only Phil realises that this phenomena is happening?

On a time travel front, the Groundhog Day producers don’t attempt to provide any explanation or answer any questions at all. At best, once Phil gets the girl they live happily ever after.

Yet again, I can’t help but realise the importance of now. I used to think it lasts only for a fleeting moment – affected by the past and affecting the future. But now I wonder if it’s an infinitely short moment in time stretched out to last eternity.

Live now wisely – we don’t know how many times we’ll get to live it!


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Should you change the past?

“What would you change in your past” is a common question, but often not much thought is given over to the morals of changing the past. This article explores whether we should change our past at all.

“A change in my past?”

I recently posted this link on the time2timetravel Facebook page. In that video the question is asked: What would you change in your past?

It’s an interesting question. Though I think I probably have a different angle on it – Do I want to change my past? or even, should I change my past?

I have two concerns. The first is fairly obvious (I think); if I change my past then my current no longer exists – a current which for the most part I’m pretty happy with. I had to go through some messy relationships, for example, so that I could become the person I am today who my wife loves. And have my children.

Evolutionary caution

Admittedly this the same argument that pro-evolutionists provide in response to the idea that life as we know it exists in a very small Goldilocks zone: we can live only within a very narrow window of environmental conditions – exactly the right temperature, atmospheric composition, gravity strength, etc..

The reason, they say, is that life evolved to fit into this environment, the same way that the shape of a puddle, for example, fits exactly with the ground on which it lies. Change the shape of the ground, and the shape of the puddle will adapt and change.

In a similar way then, it can be argued that my own evolution in time – how I changed and reacted to events in my history (read “temporal environment”) means that I’ve simply adapted to it and end up ‘placed’ in my present.

I met my wife because she’s the one who was at the same place at the same time that I was. If my history was different, I’d have been at another place at another time and met a different lady and I might have fallen in love with her instead.

My marital status, and with whom, has adapted in the same way as the puddle that’s sitting comfortably on the ground.

Changing my past then, means I’ll evolve into someone else who either won’t be loved by my wife (from now), or even won’t love her. Or simply that I wouldn’t have even met her. So no loss with a changed history as I’ll have some other woman (or let’s be conceited – let some other woman have me).

Even though my no wife may not mind (as the same applies to her temporal environment too) I find this an egocentric point of view, and unacceptable…which brings me onto my second issue – changing my history changes other people’s histories too – and I don’t think I have the right to do that.

Morality or mortality?

The movie “About Time” and a time travel novel I recently reviewed (Buckyball by Fabien Roy) both cover issues where children no longer exist thanks to a historical change. Not just different children, but actually not there. If I’ve removed their presence, isn’t that akin to murder?

The get-out clause is that these children never get to exist so who have I murdered? But…they already have existed (see why why time travel grammar gets tricky?!) so I still maintain that such a change in history would be unethical.

Am I being too strict here? If I change history then people die (or at least, never get to exist). It’s true that the other side of the coin is that other people get to exist who wouldn’t otherwise exist – but I think it’s pretty obvious that creating babies to justify murdering others has a very dodgy moral foundation.

Are we really in control?

Perhaps my issue is made clearer if we put the shoe on the other foot and rephrase the original question. Lets change it from “What would you (or we) change” to “How would you feel if the Government was able to change history?”

Or the military. Or your idiot next door neighbour?

Feel safe? I don’t. It’s a loss of control.

Whilst Buckyball is more to do with reliving history than changing or rewriting it, it does touch on the idea that your present can be taken away if someone else is in control. It’s a worrying thought.

So changing your past? Yeah, you can do that, but then a second later someone else might change theirs and that might affect yours. Better to go last then, I think. Better to wait and let all the chips fall and see where they lie before making any decisions.

Or maybe we should just wait indefinitely…

Of course, the above arguments assume that whoever is in control of the time travel technology is also in control of the changes and the effects of those changes. It’s easy to imagine a version of the present which we’re not happy with, whether it’s instigated by ourselves or by a third party. That’s been the subject of countless Hollywood time travel movies. We’ve been warned.

Personally, I think that generally we should take responsibility for our actions in the past, and leave the past well alone.

Living with the consequences…

But I also acknowledge that it’s true that sometimes we need to deal with the consequences that others have caused and I guess that this is where the grey area makes itself known. If some idiot politician orders an army to raid a town or village then why should the families of those innocent victims have to live with it? Then I think messing about with the past to harmlessly fix other people’s mistakes might be justified.

But that’s the time travel version of a first aid bandage. I like the Alex’s philosophy in Sherrie Cronin’s z2. Alex maintains that from now we have the capability of creating and shaping the future which lies ahead of us – and ahead of others. That makes now really important because it’s effects can ripple forwards in time indefinitely.

…or creating new ones?

I’ll finish with a quote from Churchill who saw history from a futuristic viewpoint:

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”

Or to paraphrase: “I’ll write my present so that my future will be good to me.”

Shouldn’t we all just agree to leave the past alone, and concentrate on creating a new and better future?

What do you think? Are there morals involved when it comes to changing the past?


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Site announcement: Thank you for your patience!

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quiet on the time2timetravel front recently. This hiatus will soon be over!

Hi fellow time travel fans!

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quiet on the time2timetravel front recently. This hiatus will soon be over!

My time’s been spent on fixing some back-end site issues, but I think all is now solved – along with a new site layout which I hope will keep those of of you on mobile devices even happier!

I really appreciate your patience over the past days, especially given some odd site behaviour but hopefully now everything is back on track (though that said…if you notice anything strange please let me know!)

So now I can finally get back to writing and posting! 🙂

Next up will be a review of Time Bangers (by Luna Teague and Ivery Kirk) which was a very different – but welcome! – read from usual! And I’m about half way through my current read, d4 – another instalment from Sherrie Cronin’s “46.Ascending” series which includes the excellent z2. So that’ll be the following book review!

In between reading and reviewing, I’ve got some more ideas on time travel (or why or even if we should time travel) which I’m planning on writing up and posting.

So stay tuned – exciting stuff is on its way! 🙂


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

A tale of two Dutch cities and fractal time

Dutch cities Zwolle and Deventer are similar in appearance but only because being removed from an age dims the fine detail. Time isn’t fractal – the pattern isn’t visible and identical at all scales.

Take two Dutch cities…

The Dutch cities of Zwolle and Deventer are fairly similar in appearance, having more or less the same kind of layout with the same kind of buildings and the same kind of houses. At least, they seem to be pretty much the same from this moment in time, and this is arguably down to their similar age and in part down to their shared history.

Dutch cities 1: Deventer
Map of Deventer by Willem and Joan Blaeu, 1652

(Image credit:

Dutch cities 2: Zwolle
Map of Zwolle by Joan Blaeu in Blaeu’s “Toonneel der Steden”, 1652

(Image credit:

A lesson from history?

But when all is said and done, who gives a monkey’s about their history? Is it fair to say that history has had it’s time and that now it belongs in the past? Surely the present is what’s important, it’s now. Now is when we see the detail. Now is when we shape the future. Right?

Time heals. Or smears, or covers subtle differences. Back in those historical days, those cities are likely to have been perceived as very different from each other. If you lived there back in the 9th century you’d have probably been able to tell the differences apart far more easily.

But get closer – really get into those Dutch cities, walk the streets and meet the people, the differences – internal and external – become clearer; you can probably tell by the way someone speaks, dresses or behaves which city they come from, for example, or even from which side of it.

The important differences I see from the viewpoint of today are practical – which Dutch city can I drive to and find a parking place most easily? And how much is the town council going to charge me to park there?

Using the knowledge that Zwolle has a history of being tight with money (See the “Blauwefingers” section on Wikipedia), for example, would be insanely prejudiced. But on the other hand, knowing that Deventer takes pride in its history to the extent that it’s often used as a filming location (reference Wikipedia) might make it a place well worth a visit.

Ultimately the fact remains that history is, in some ways and to varying degrees of relevance, important.

A comparison with age

When I was 17 I had a part time job in a petrol station. It was easy for me to tell who was over or under 16 and to whom to serve cigarettes. My older colleagues found it difficult – as too so would I now, being much older.

Middle age

When we were young children, old people pretty much looked the same. You know, where ‘old’ is above 5 years old. As we got older that threshold increased. Anyone above their teens, where boys had stubbles and girls had breasts, were ‘old’. Then there were grown up adults who had jobs who were ‘old’, and so on till pension age and beyond.

Then before we knew it, an additional threshold had formed – one where younger people look and behave the same. All babies “look like Winston Churchill”. All toddlers “scream and wet themselves”. All teenagers (including 15 and 16 year olds trying to buy cigarettes) “find everything unfair, hate their parents” – and so on.

Within our own age group there’s more distinction. I’m growing up. A young adult. Middle aged. Nearing retirement. There’s more resolution from the moment of now – which differs from the case of the two Dutch cities where “now” needs to be in the past.

Being removed from an age dims the fine detail; being in it increases that resolution. Time isn’t fractal – the pattern isn’t visible and identical at all scales.

Do differences matter?

This is the paradox – that whereas understanding history and seeing the similarities and differences between cities is interesting, the lack of resolution between (or within) age groups is disturbing.

I overheard a sad conversation on the train a few mornings ago. Now admittedly my Dutch may not be completely up to par but this is what I (think I ) overheard. A couple were talking about their grandmothers. Apparently one had died at 60-something whereas another had just celebrated her 94th birthday. In true Dutch style of directness this difference was summed up as “Ja, dat kan.” (“Yes, this can happen.”).

The underlying but unspoken thought was that after a certain age people are old and can be expected to pop their clogs at any given moment. Yes. It can happen.

In relative terms the difference between a 60 year old and a 94 year old is moot; but in absolute terms we’re talking here of 34 years! Can we really be so quick to dismiss 34 years of life? That’s about the age of the lady who said this (as far as I can tell…)

Both the young and the old (quantify those adjectives for yourself! 😉 ) seem to agree that those differences don’t matter – indeed, the young and the old seem to share the same fascination with age. I’m four and a half!. (Said with pride). “I’m eighty eight and still going”! (Proudly). Maybe it’s to do with position on the Gaussian hill of age distribution. I dare you to ask the 39 year old how old she is. (I suspect a pursed lip and “…under forty”.)

At the same time, being young or old means being in the age groups where there is most temporal blurring for other age groups!


My feeling is this: Now is important, even when it was in the past. Just as now shapes tomorrow, the past shaped today – and today’s (usually) our starting point!

After all – wouldn’t you want your actions today to have some meaning for the future? I’m sure the historical folk of the Dutch cities of Deventer and Zwolle would feel / have felt the same way!


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Quantum or steam powered time travel with a kettle

A watched kettle never boils. Does this make it a quantum or even just a steam powered time machine?

A watched kettle never boils. Does this make it a quantum or even just a steam powered time machine?

That said, the kettle in our work kitchen takes ages even when you’re not there to grow old with it.

Indeed, the kettle takes so long to boil I may as well go off and make a cup of tea whilst I’m waiting for the water to reach boiling point.

Many colleagues walk away whilst it hopefully brings the cold / tepid water inside to boiling point, and come back later to make their drink, but this brings about a moral dilemma; when I get to the kitchen to make a tea and see a kettle recently boiled and still full of water I’m faced with two options: first (and the most polite) is to hang around indefinitely until the person who switched it on comes back for his water, or secondly, add more water to the kettle so that there’s enough for both of us, and switch it back on again.

But this means another long wait.

Personally, I go for the third option – take the water. I kind of think that if you can’t invest time in a good cup of tea, then you don’t deserve it and deserve to wait until those of us who do are ready.

I wonder if people of the future would have a similar dilemma if they saw a time machine parked outside and no-one there to use it…

Back to the Future III Train
Image courtesy of


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Time marches on with football

Gary Lineker is best known in football, but for me he’s the front man for crisps and the occasional quiz show. 21 years later we see the effects of the march time.

A few nights ago I had the TV on and was watching a UK satirical quiz program. The question master this week was Gary Lineker, ex footballer and present sports commentator.

I’m not a sports fan, but I know his name, and would recognise his face. He’s been on a few commercials for crisps, and that’s admittedly how I recognise him. Except those commercials ran from 1995 – when his hair was still dark brown. Now, over 21 years later, his hair is grey, he’s grown a beard, and his voice is older.

The quiz program I was watching is based on UK news and politics. Having emigrated some 7 years ago I’m quite out of touch (and date) with many of the developments, so coupled with this old quizmaster I was feeling very much out of both my time and country.

When the program ended I came round to watching a chat show hosted by Clare Baldwin. Yep – she was another sports commentator, but now hosting a chat show. I was quite surprised because she looked younger than I remembered her. Maybe make-up and hair-do’s and things, I don’t know, but I suppose that’s besides the point.

The point being that she was interviewing Glen Hoddle who I remember as a footballer, but who is now apparently a football manager or something. Well, he certainly looked too old to be a professional player.

I got round to thinking back to my youth when he sang a song with a fellow footballer (someone Waddle). Yes, the Hoddle and Waddle duo. Sounds like a joke, but from memory their song wasn’t too bad. I went over to youtube as a portal to memory lane.

Let’s ignore Steve Wright’s stupid comment at the end of the clip. But here we have a younger version of Glen Hoddle looking a little awkward literally out of his field, singing a decent song.

And yet, there’s a certain haunting feel to it. The march of time.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

The Monday Morning Meeting Mix-up

It’s Monday morning and I’m thinking back to a team meeting we had last week.

Generally speaking, one might argue that the purpose of a meeting is to filter down information from management to lower levels, or to allow the exchange of knowledge between workers at the rate of the slowest attendee.

When it comes to defining “rate”, I can’t help thinking that a meeting is perhaps hidden corporate speak for time dilation.

My team leader has neither friended me on FB, doesn’t follow my tweets, and is not a regular reader of this excellent time travel blog. So be assured that what I write now is no cheesy attempt at brown nosing. Point is – he’s a good egg. He has a lot of well-deserved respect from his team, and personally I think he works blimming hard to ensure that things go as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.

But sling a team meeting in the works and you may as well throw a spanner into a time machine and hope for the best.

timing of a meeting

Look at the timing. The meetings are usually held on a Thursday. This is the time of the week when we’ve got over the manic Monday morning and the Wednesday mid week blues and we’ve reached maximum efficiency when we’re peaking in productivity and creativity.

This is the time of the week where we’ve got 3 days work behind us to build on, and the Friday feeling and weekend ahead of us to look forward to.

Psychologically, it couldn’t be better! We’re on a roll – we’re buzzing! Innovative, developing, whittling down that stack in our inbox. Proposals are made and sent off. Queries are received and answered. Scientific breakthroughs are discovered and published.

So yeah, why not stick us in a team meeting for two hours to curb all that?

Meeting time

Sitting in a meeting is like Einstein sitting on a hot stove. Minutes from the last meeting are read, and minutes from this meeting taken. Minutes. Time drags on, not just within the meeting where my poor boss can’t get a word in edgeways before some cretin picks him up on the letter of what he’s speaking about and not the spirit, but also intra- meeting.

This is where things that have been discussed many many months ago in similar meetings still receive undue attention.

Fred Blogs is still unhappy with his off-site connectivity. Mary May still thinks IT services are responsible for her poor performance. John Smith still has troubles with his time sheet and no-one likes the default meeting scheduler. But all that was last Thursday, and we came back to work on Friday full of the joys of the looming weekend. Work hard, play hard.

And today it’s Monday. The laptop won’t connect to the server and the screen has frozen.

Was it really 4 days ago – over half a week – that I was sitting in the meeting? It seems like yesterday 🙁


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Rest for the old?

Old people have traveled a long way in time, let’s say arbitrarily, “three score and ten” (70) years. Granted, they’ve drifted through at the ambient rate of 1 second per second which is way it took them so long, and why they are, well…old.

“If youth is wasted on the young then wisdom is wasted on the old”.

Is this true?

Old people have traveled a long way in time, let’s say arbitrarily, “three score and ten” (70) years. Granted, they’ve drifted through at the ambient rate of 1 second per second which is way it took them so long, and why they are, well…old.

Many suffer from TMT. Too much time. There is a Biblical passage which states that “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop…” (Proverbs 16.27. Ironically, men in particular take to performing DIY jobs around the house after retirement, simply to fill up the time they now have for themselves instead of handing it over with their souls to an employer. Those DIY jobs don’t need to be done, save for the provision of a time consuming task.

better with age

Others use their time wisely instead of simply wasting it away. They do the things that they didn’t have the time available to do before. Go on holidays, long walks, (re)start hobbies…some elderly folk say that they have less time available to them in retirement now that they have more time!

So some make better (ambient) time travelers than others. I recently met an 87 year old. He’s a well known scientist and still very much active in both his field of expertise and in his life in general.

On the other hand, my neighbour is barely over 50 but she has convinced herself that the best of her life is over and now wallows in self pity, regret and resentment. She spends her remaining time looking back, and any forward thought is consumed by the frustrated wait for the big end.

With her attitude she hasn’t got one foot in the grave – she’s digging the hole for herself, sticking her head inside and complaining that it’s too bright outside.

Has age turned her bitter or has this negativity come from within?

OK, cheese alert: Life is what you make of it.

“Choices create circumstances; decisions determine your future”. John Croyle

So is wisdom wasted on the old? I don’t think so – wisdom comes through experience, and that comes with time.

Anyway. I think it’s better to think about how we face our future? And how we are when we’re there.

Good luck! 🙂

A joke to finish off with.

A man was walking along a road when he saw an old man sitting on a rocking chair on his porch. Time had left this man heavily wrinkled, with veins throbbing through thin blotchy skin, huge bags under his sunken eyes, thinning hair and gnarled fingers.

Next to the rocking chair was an oxygen tank and a wheelchair.

The walker was impressed that given his terrible condition, the old man had been able to get himself outside to do a spot of reading, instead of remaining indoors where it would undoubtedly have been easier to pass his time. He wandered over and struck up a conversation, passing the time of day. It was difficult to understand the old man’s hoarse flemmy voice, and he kept coughing as he spoke.

“So tell me,” said the walker, “what’s your secret on living a long life?”

The old man leaned forward, and tapped his walking stick on the ground.

“I’ll tell you what it is, but you’d never think so. I smoke 60 a day, drink two bottles of whisky a week and spend most of my spare time glued behind the TV. And drugs. If I can get myself to a dealer then I’ll take whatever he’s got!”

“Blimey!” said the walker, “That’s incredible! And it clearly works! Do you mind if I ask you how old you are?”

“Not at all” said the old man. “I’m 16 next Tuesday.”


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email here:

A late time keeper

When people are late it’s a sign that they disregard your own time. Sometimes though, lateness can’t be helped. Indeed, other people may cause it, or even make alleviating the problems being late causes, worse.

The ability to avoid being late and to keep good time is a highly valued attribute in a personality. It shows that you value not only your own time, but also the time of those with whom you choose to spend it.

When people are late it’s a sign that they disregard your own time. I hate it when people are late, and likewise, I hate being late myself because I assume that other people would place me in a lower regard as I would them if they were late.

Sometimes though, lateness can’t be helped. Indeed, other people may cause it, or even make alleviating the problems being late causes, worse.

The pupil silently cracked the door open at the back of the classroom, spotted his seat, sidled his way into it and laid out his books.

Late for class?
Image credit: Terri Heisele

A silence filled the room as the teacher glared over the top of her glasses.

“You’re 3 minutes late!” she snapped.

“Sorry miss. I -”

“The clock over there”, the crooked finger waggled, “is there for all of us to see so that we all know what time we begin.” she barked. “And that’s 9 oclock. What time is it now?”

The pupil bit his lip. He summoned his courage and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted.

“Don’t mumble in my class! I asked you what time is it. Well then?”

“A bit after 9 o’clock miss”

“A BIT AFTER. Yes. Now go back outside and come in properly.”

The young boy walked outside and closed the door softly behind him which he then knocked on. His teacher’s voice came through.

“Who is it?” she screeched.

The boy called out his name through the closed door. The children in the class giggled; other children in other classes heard the noise and looked up.

“Settle down!” barked every teacher in every class room.

The voice though the door continued. “Well come in then. You’re late and you’ve disrupted the whole class. Now get your books out.”

“I’ve got them out already miss!”, said the boy, hoping that he’d be appeasing the wrath.

“Don’t answer me back! Now we were talking about [some crap or the other] before we you interrupted us.”

“Sorry miss.”

“Well for your benefit, I’ll say it all again.”

“Thank you miss.”

Paul picked up his pencil and wrote the date in the top left corner and underlined it. He remembered the date well, for it was the date that he’d both been dreading and looking forward to for the past two weeks. It was the date of his early morning dental appointment which was needed after a football had been kicked in his face in the playground by an over zealous PE teacher. The anaesthetic was beginning to wear off now and his mouth was feeling sore.

Well, that. And it was also his birthday.

From memory, this kind of thing happened very frequently at the school I went to. I’m not excusing being late, but sometimes it does just happen. My question is this: Why spend a minute complaining about 3 minutes, then spend a further 3 minutes repeating what’s already been said to the majority of the class?

Or alternatively, why after 30 years would my stupid brain still think to remember Miss Glazard? It’s ironic that out of all the history that Miss Glazard tried to drill into me this is the bit that remains in my head.

Some people and some experiences are best forgotten.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

A non-existent school past

A non existent high school alumni group points to whether I have a past school life and asks whether my memory of it is simply a figment of my imagination.

At the end of the movie The Shining the camera closes in on a 1921 photo which shows current hotel guest Jack Tottance who had throughout the movie been going crazy and communicating with ghosts. Although it seems to be up for discussion, one of the implications of the photo is that the Jack that we’ve been following in the movie in the present is either a ghost of the past or a reincarnation. In effect, Jack does not fully exist in the present.

I think I’m ‘victim’ to a kind of opposite event.

not quite a school reunion
Ghost of the past.
Image credit:

I found that there was an alumni group from my secondary school on Facebook and I thought it might be interesting to check it out. It’s a closed group so I asked the owner if I could join. We were in the same class in primary school and then moved up together to senior school and although we never kept in touch afterwards I figured she might remember me.

She didn’t, and it took a couple of emails to remind her convince her of who I was am. Finally my membership ‘application’ was approved and I was free to browse through the photo album.

Over 400 photos had been submitted. Some were random shots of the school building – ‘proper’ photos which had been taken with a 35 mm camera taken to a chemist for processing and developing and picked up, likely with 23 or 35 others, some two weeks later. In time this photo had aged like us school pupils, and faded a little before it was scanned with a technology 30 years more advanced and uploaded to a server so far away it’s in a different time zone. Unheard of back in 1983.

Today, sepia is an effect applied digitally to photos to make them look aged. There’s no need for that with these photos from 30 years ago! The school had a presence. The reddish brown gives a sense of foreboding just as it had in real life when I was there. Looking at those photos you’d know it housed nightmare teachers. I wondered what had become of those teachers – the ones who told me I had no hope, but more importantly the ones who believed that I did and supported me. (Mr Holiday, I salute you, sir).

I could see from the photos that the sizes of some things were smaller than they used to be. The railings used to reach my chest, for example, but today’s memory translates that to a height higher than it really is. I can see now that it’s waist height. The trees at the back of the playing field were smaller than I remembered too. Not because they have been growing (or shrinking) since but because I’ve grown since. There’s a funny one – I grow and my memory shrinks.

Changes in apparent size or sepia-induced sense of foreboding didn’t apply to the photos of my classmates. Fixed focus cameras held by excited hands of 11 year olds in moments of fast excitement meant a lot of fuzzy faces through lack of focus.

Lack of focus“. Yeah I think that appeared on my report card. I never did find history interesting.

Over 400 photos bringing back lots of memories and lots of feelings. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t in one of them. Not even in the class photo taken at the end of the year. It’s as if I wasn’t there. Ever.

Out of interest I sent someone on the group a friend request, and rather quickly the reply came – “Sorry, who are you again?”. Was I even at school? Are all my days of education a figment of my (or someone else’s) imagination? Perhaps; I remember my teachers who favoured closed-book exams used to say it was good to have things in your head…

OK, I can’t remember the future, but what about remembering a past for which there seems to be no evidence? Time: they say it heals everything. Some things that did happen in my school are probably best forgotten. Some of the twatty kids too – it’s just that I never thought I’d be one of them.

And here’s another odd thing: I started drafting this post several months ago. And now that’s it’s ready I returned to the Facebook group to pull out a photo.

And the group doesn’t exist any more.


PS: Yes I know – a blog post about a Facebook group which doesn’t exist and if it does then I didn’t…

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Free dimensional thinking and time travel

Can free dimensional thinking help us to understand what exactly we’re talking about when it comes to time travel?

Some time ago I met a pretentious bloke at a party who was overly keen to tell me his views on philosophy and something which he called “free dimensional thinking”.

“What’s free dimensional thinking? ” I ask.

“Oh! Don’t you know? It’s when you’re free to think on different dimensions.”

“OK I’ve got that, but how? Can you give me an example?”

“Well it takes some getting used to. Most people only think one dimensionally. With free dimensional thinking you think on more than one dimension. You can think on two dimensions, or three. Or four…as many as you like. It depends how advanced you are. I’ve done 6.” He beamed.

I indicated visually the dimension of height of the room and the height of my frustration by rolling my eyes upwards, and departed.

Pretentious pillocks aside, this idea of dimensional thinking must have lodged (though perhaps in a different way than I was ‘supposed’ to) because I got round to thinking about the measurement of dimensions.

Free dimensional thinking
“Free dimensional thinking” – with a football! 😉 Image credit: Chandra Sekaran.

Take a football game, for example. How long is it?

Would we say 90 minutes plus extra time (or as my daughter told me after 7 minutes…it’s too long, Daddy!) or would we describe it more literally as somewhere between 90 and 120 meters?

What dimension are we talking about here? The length of time, or the length of the more tangible field? It usually helps to be clear. H. G. Wells in his book The Time Machine famously commented that time is the fourth dimension – and yet the time traveler in that novel experienced nausea as he was subjected to the rotation of the 3 spatial dimensions and time upon their axes.

A shuffling of the dimensions can assist then, in time travel, but a precise knowledge of each dimension – and where it is – is a clear pre-requisite.

Maybe this mysterious free dimensional thinker / party goer may well have been aware of the multiple dimensions he was thinking along. But like the analogy between time travel and the teapot in orbit around Venus (* see footnote below) it’s extremely improbable.

It’s a shame. Not because I’d spent (and wasted) too much of my time with him, but because I probably missed his clues if he really was onto something useful.


* Note about Teapots – it’s been quoted (by I can’t remember who) that time travel is like finding a teapot in orbit around Venus – there’s no rule in physics prohibiting it, it’s just very unlikely.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

How to move a time machine

A time machine needs to move itself in time as well as its inhabitants because otherwise it would be a portal. But how does it do that without bootstrapping?

One of the most commonly asked questions in time travel would probably be – Is time travel possible, and if so, how do you build a time machine to transport the occupants to another time?

I’ve got another question which I think should also be considered: How does a time machine move itself (in time)?

For a time machine to work it needs to move itself in time as well as its inhabitants because otherwise it would be a portal of some ilk which requires a similar device at the ‘other end’. In such a portal, a temporal field modifier (or whatever!) is generated by the device and applied to the time traveller to be. But in a ‘regular’ time machine, the force is generated internally and applied to internal occupants, moving both time traveller and machine.

how does a time machine move?
Up, up and away – with boots! Image credit: Laupo Beta

But the idea of a time machine moving itself is almost a literal example of “bootstrapping” (though paradoxically, not a paradox!). Bootstrapping is a little bit like living in the ‘cartoon world’ where Newton’s third law doesn’t exist (“For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction”).

This is where you can sit on a yacht and blow yourself along, or as the name suggests, lift your whole self up by tugging on your boot laces (or straps). Or, as it would seem here, lift a time machine into another time by using an internally generated force.

Further, if a time machine remains moves through time then it is effectively present in space through all of the intermittent time steps between the moment of departure and the time of arrival. You’d think this would increase the chances of us coming across a time traveler (or at least his time machine), though they seem to be in short supply…

But maybe there is a paradox. Saying that a time machine will take you some place else in time but not actually move itself it much like saying you’ll get into a car which will take you somewhere, but it doesn’t move itself because it has no wheels. (Come to think of it, that does sound like my own car!).

So we’ve some full circle; a time machine needs to be transported. But how?


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Beginning of time

It seems that time begins when we’re born, even for other people. Perhaps we should celebrate the beginning of time with…a birthday! 😉

A conversation with my daughter yet again taught me a thing or two about the nature of time.

Daughter: “Daddy, my little sister has had 2 birthdays and I’ve had 5”

She smiled for ‘winning’ the “who’s had the most birthdays” competition. So I joined in.

Me: “Yes, and I’ve had 44”

Nailed it.

Daughter: “I don’t think so Daddy.”

Me: “Why not? Don’t you think I’m that old?”

Daughter: “No, I just that I don’t remember you having that many.”

So there we are – time begins when we’re born, even for other people. Perhaps we should celebrate the beginning of time with…a birthday! 😉


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Dealing with Earth Time

It’s seems to me that children and animals have it right when it comes to dealing with Earth time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time.

Earth is out of sync with itself. Seasons are defined with respect to the (maximum / minimum / midpoint) tilt of Earth’s rotational axis towards or away from the sun, but in reality they tend to run a day or two either side of this. (Or maybe more?)

Earth time split

We already know about the addition of leap seconds and days at various times to keep time in sync, and we manually adjust our clocks around the Earth, roughly into time zones so that we ourselves can be in sync with the Earth’s rotation. (Perhaps we could argue that there’s not enough time for all of us so we need to divide it into 24 time zones to spread things out, just as the Dutch spread it’s population out over the summer holiday and define it in 3 sections of overlapping 3 week periods).

And then there’s the further manual adjustment of time, sometimes controversial, often discussed, but necessarily adhered to – the advancement or retreat of our clocks by an hour to maximise sunlight hours (assuming that we live in a country with a local climate allowing sunlight…).

This year I noticed it for the first time – the Earth’s hemispheres are not in sync with each other. Whilst Europe does away with ‘summer time’ tonight (24th October), the southern hemisphere has already entered into it’s summer 3 weeks ago.

What? Is the differential hemispheric rotation going to cause a shear across the Equator and split our world apart?

Oh wait. Southern summer starts on “World animal day”. Animals are more in tune with nature than we are. They wake up when the sun goes up and sleep when it goes down (apart from the inverse solar (nocturnal) creatures.

It happens every year, twice a year. The clocks change by an hour and people wake up and go to sleep at the wrong time. Some are too tired, others too energetic. (This is sounding like my kids…).

More seriously, you get those cretins who think they still don’t need their car headlights on in winter and plough into pedestrians they didn’t see, or into wildlife who have become confused with the advance or retreat of rush hour by an hour.

It’s seems to me that children and animals have got it right when it comes to dealing with time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time. Actually, we’re even pretty useless when it comes to dealing with time when we leave it well alone. We run out of it, we lose it, we chase it, we don’t spend it wisely.

So how on Earth can we think of time travel when we can hardly deal with daylight saving time?


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Back to the Future (and back again)

21 October 2015. This wouldn’t be a time travel blog if I didn’t write something about Back to the Future on “Back to the Future Day 2015” now would it?! So…how does the eighties BTTF 2 idea of the future measure up to “Back to the Future Day 2015” today? Maybe cartoons and headlines have it.

21 October 2015. Make a note, because thousands of people already have. Today is “Back to the Future Day”; the date that Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown travelled to from 1985 in Back to the Future 2.

Back to the Future – a timeless classic

Back to the Future (BTTF) is one of the classics in time travel movies. When the first installment was released in 1985 it brought the idea of time travel to the silver screen – not just to sci-fi fans but to a young generation. Paradoxes, alternative histories, projected futures and the space-time continuum…all on a comedic setting and the underlying story line of trying to get your parents together. BTTF is a milestone in time travel movie production.

It was and still is a dramatic success. Time travel and sci-fi are niche areas within fiction, but mention BTTF and most of the general public will have heard of it. And I think most will have enjoyed it. It’s an incredible feat that 30 years later the “Back to the Future” franchise is not only being talked about but there are gatherings, parties, re-enactments (with time machines?) – and today…”Back to the Future Day”. And it seems that everyone is getting on board.

The movies

The first film took us back to the fifties. We already know that era (it’s already been!) and much of the beauty of the movie is in how a teenager from 1985 deals with being a teenager in the 50s. It’s more of the destination kind of time travel fiction.

BTTF2 takes on a different tone. It plays more with travelling in time, now forwards as well as backwards, and introducing not only the idea of an alternative future but a branch in the time line causing an alternative history (and hence ‘another’ alternative future). It’s this movie, where Marty and The Doc travel to 21 October 2015, that we thank for “Back to the Future Day”.

Back then, and now

It’s easy to see how true to the fifties the original BTTF movie is. We can compare memories and / or records with the movie. I wasn’t around then so I can’t perform the first person analysis, but I am around now in what was back then considered to be the future. I found a cartoon today which highlights the lackluster of today when compared to ideas in the past of where we’d be today.

“21 October 2015 – it strikes me it doesn’t go well. Jaws 19, no hoverboards and no flying cars. You hate sequels, you can’t skateboard and you have no driving licence. What do you make of that? Answer: It’s the thought that counts.” (Dating For Geeks, Metro, 21 October 2015).

Compare this attitude to just last year. Even in the short term, our present is falling behind past expectations at an increasing rate. How does the eighties idea of the future measure up to today?

Spitter in public transport
Translation: “Spitter in public transport will soon be caught by DNA”.

I was both pleased and disgusted to see the front page of the Metro, a Dutch free newspaper available at train stations this morning. At the top we have the dashboard control from the time machine used on the movie. Remember – this is the time machine which sits in a DeLorean (“If you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” – The Doc) and powered by a flux capacitor.

Notice the date: 21 October. 2015. Yes, that’s today, and it’s in the free paper, largely aimed not at sci-fi or time travel fans, but at the general public who revel in celebrity gossip, and at commuters who need something to read whilst we wait for trains that will never turn up. At least not on our time line.

And the news item for today? If you work in public transport and someone spits on you, DNA analysis can help find the culprit. Presumably passengers don’t get any help if the ticket conductor spits on you. (A lot of them do if you sit in second class.)

I couldn’t help notice the sickness of the editor who placed a picture of a homeless refugee nearby…dressed in waterproofs *growl*. But this is in line with the low mentality of the paper, and yet it still has an interest in Back to the Future, and assumes that it’s readers do too. And that’s a good thing, even if all that spitting isn’t.

Spitting at people? What kind of a world do we live in? In what kind of a time?

Maybe Biff did get his evil future time line after all.

warning - new future dawns
A new future dawns. My photography skills don’t show it, but the sky was really red. That’s a (shepherd’s) warning, right?


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

No Chime to Sit Still

With the help from an hourly chime and a little green man, I have no time to sit still.

I think like a lot of Dads I believe that time stands still when it comes to my daughters. Not that it takes just short of an eternity to get their coat on and out of the front door, but in that despite their age and their size, in my mind they are still small babies.

That idea came and bit me in the…back a few years ago when I was lowering my eldest into her cot. Thinking she was still only a few kilos in weight (sorry, mass) I forgot about my own age and completely did my back in whilst doing it. I could hardly move and blah blah yeah I’m an old man with back problems – and yes, I’ve been asked whether I could run faster than dinosaurs and is that why I’m still alive, Daddy?

So frequent trips to the chiropractor are still on-going. Another sign of my age, that it’s taking blimming yonks for my lower back to get back to the young agile state it was in when I was running circles around those pesky dinosaurs. Sadly, a sign of our present (geological) era is that many of us – and that includes myself – sit still in cars, trains and behind computer monitors instead of moving about around catching, skinning and barbecuing woolly mammoths. And that’s not good for our backs (though admittedly it’s probably good for the woolly mammoths).

Don't stand still
No time to stand still. Image credit:

When I first sought help for my back, the physiotherapist had no idea what was wrong with me (admittedly, many psychologists might not know what’s wrong with me either) – but her solution was to drink lots of water. It’s healthy stuff, and it makes you stand up to go to the toilet (or stand up to walk to the toilet – whether you sit or stand is up (or down) to you). It’s a good idea, but it wasn’t getting to the core of the problem which is why I’m now going to the chiropractor (actually, this one – so visit it, like it, share it etc. – though be warned it’s not only in Dutch, it is actually in Holland 😉 )

And it’s going very well, and on the last visit I was encouraged to entertain a visit from a little green man…

The little green man.

The idea is that we set the hourly chime so that we’re reminded every hour that we should stand up and take a break from sitting down. Give our back a rest. I commented that hearing a beep every hour on the hour would probably annoy my office-mates, so needless to say I was well up for the idea!

ready to chime

Here he is in situ on my keyboard. Notice timeless juxta-positioning of old-fashioned pens and pencils under the monitor, as well as a princess doll thing my daughter (aka back-cruncher) gave me to take to work to keep me company.

So. Against a few principles I set the chime, and for the 10 minutes before it was due to sound I sat glued to the LCD screen waiting for it to show :00, then I could stand up and move around. You may have spotted the irony that in trying the heal / prevent the inflexibility in my back I was displaying a ludicrous display of inflexibility in my timing…

A relaxing stroll to the coffee machine.

Anyway. The beep sounded, my room-mate gave me a growl and a disparaging look of contempt so I duly stood up and fled. (A note to save my dignity; he’s a big chap with big muscles, a rotweiler for a cuddly toy and an automatic machine gun under his desk. Fleeing the scene is the only way to ensure that my time doesn’t come prematurely.)

After the first few hundred meters I slowed down and stole a look behind me. Despite a slight graze to my left earlobe, most knives were now missing me by a large enough margin that I could steal a quick breather. My back might be getting better, but my heart was clapping in my ears and my lungs were burning. No wait. That would be the flame balls whizzing past me. Douglas Adams’ deadlines would have much more preferable, but by a startling coincidence and against all (OK, most) odds, I was rescued by a certain Heart of Gold and delivered panting in a pool of my own perspiration by the coffee machine where I seemed to be safe.

I chatted and gossiped with fellow colleagues there about anything interesting that may have happened to us recently (one lady had had a new haircut) and I returned a little sheepishly and cautiously to my desk.

And found this:

running out of chime

I’m afraid – very afraid – of what will happen the next time the hourly chime sounds, but the chances are that I won’t be sitting around…


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Is time anti-hereditary?

Insanity is hereditary because you get it from your children. But I wonder if the opposite is true regarding time; without children we have more time, and in which case…is there a further step till we achieve time travel?

A few weeks ago I was on a conference out of the country. It was 4 nights away from home, away from my family. It might not sound like much, but to me it seemed like an eternity; it was the longest I’ve been without them. (Yes, I need them probably a lot more than they need me!)

time is anti-hereditary
Image credit: Daniel Cruz

On Monday morning I was anxious – the opening talk was starting at 10 am, and at 9:15 I was still lying in bed (recall…I was without my children, so I was taking the advantage of a lie in!)

But 45 mins to get up, dressed, washed, breakfasted and get my notes and stuff in order, let alone find my way to the conference centre? No way that was possible!

As I was lying in bed having a slight panic about my lack of time, it hit me.

I had loads of it! I only had to wash myself, dress myself, feed myself, and get myself out of the door. There was no need to repeatedly test my patience (ironically…) in hurrying other people along.

There’s a saying that insanity is hereditary because you get it from your children. But I wonder if the opposite is true regarding time; without children we have more time.

Of course, I never want to be without my girls (or my wife who can equally take up lots of time with make-up and clothes and shoes and matching handbags and… and…but I still love her for it!), even though some of my idiot single and / or childless friends try to convince me of the benefits of being without love in your life

But if being without wife and kids means a greater efficiency in time, it seems to me that there’s only one step further to actually traveling in time – but to be honest, I don’t think I’d want to take it.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

A unique signature of time

In the same way as Plato’s prisoners or Hawkins’ goldfish, are each of us seeing shadows of time, or a distorted view of it? How is it that each of us judge the duration of a second differently, just as each of us reproduce a uniquely shaped “0” when we hand write?

My teachers at school were always harping on about my poor level of handwriting as it clearly fell outside the margins of what was considered to be acceptable (to them).

It’s a fair point – we all try to write a “0”, for example, but each of us draws it differently – our handwriting is unique, despite each of us trying to replicate an identical shape. And if we are ‘too unique’, we call it “bad handwriting”.

Sure, there are some general patterns (bubbly, scrawly, etc.) but the point is that we all have our own personally unique interpretation of a common number or letter. Perhaps the same can be said too of art – that each of us would draw or paint a different picture even if we are given an identical object to reproduce.

Is it the same with personal time?

Not that we judge time differently. If a group of friends decide to meet outside a bar at 8 pm, it’s likely that there’ll be a spread of times of arrival, probably centered on 8 pm but perhaps with a spread of some +/- 10 minutes.

But whose version of the time is correct?

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave he postulates the idea of prisoners who are only able to see projections of shadows on a wall in front of them – they have no idea of the ‘real’ objects making the shadows, the light behind them, or the source of any sounds that the puppeteers may make and which echo off the cave walls. For them, the echoes and the shadows are the real world.

Image courtesy:
Plato’s Cave. Image courtesy:

Stephen Hawkins reproduced this idea with a fish who looks out of a goldfish bowl and sees a distorted view of things outside the bowl as the light travels through the glass. On a similar footing, that distorted view is the real world as it really is…for the fish.

In the same way as the prisoners and the goldfish, are each of us seeing shadows of time, or a distorted view of it? How is it that each of us judge the duration of a second differently, just as each of us reproduce a uniquely shaped “0” when we handwrite? Surely a 0 is a 0? There’s even a mathematical formula for a circle! Surely time is time?

Perhaps we’ll never know. Plato’s prisoners, once taken to the surface and shown how things really stand, were unable to accept the truth. And we all know that a fish out of water can’t survive. Could we?

A sundial never lies.
A sundial never lies.

In days old it was said that the camera never lies, but in modern times with digital photography, sophisticated editing software, or even basic filters, the final photo can often look very different from the image which first appeared in the view finder.

Some clocks and watches can [be made to] ‘lie’ too – a readjustment of a setting, or through mechanical fault. Except for a sundial. It’s much harder to tamper with the position of the sun…but isn’t it ironic that a sundial points the time…with a shadow? 😉


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email here:

Morphing time at the train station

So 10 minutes morphs into an hour, and if my train turns up on platform 1 on time, I’ll be getting onto it when I should be getting off.

I was late leaving work, and although I was pedalling to the train station as fast as I could, I wasn’t going to get there on time. Sadly I was still 10 minutes away when my train was at the platform; it wasn’t going to wait for me, and it pulled away on its hour journey to my home town without me.

rectangular bottom imprints

Shattered and exhausted from all that extra hard cycling (in vain), I locked my bike and made my way on wobbly legs to the cold metal bench in the station waiting room. I had 20 minutes to kill before the next train, which of course morphed into 50 minutes because the next train was cancelled.

So I’m sitting here with aching legs, a bottom with tiny rectangular imprints on it, a stomach that’s rumbling, a heart which is beating louder than a rowdy nightclub and a head with teeth clenched in frustration with the thought that my 10 minutes cost me, in real time, an hour.

If the train turns up on platform 1 on time, I’ll be getting onto it when I should be getting off.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

Hands off, Einstein, she's mine!

The results from my experiment with time dilation are in: despite playing with the twin paradox, kissing my wife makes the universe a safer place!

My experiment with a pretty girl. Hands off, Einstein!

Last week I posed the question if I kiss my beautiful wife for a minute and for her it seems like an hour, does that make me a good lover?

The results are in. (Don’t worry – this remains a post relating to time travel! 😉 )

Time dilation from kissing.
Image credit: Prashant Soni

My wife feels pretty much the same as I do, i.e. when she kisses me for a minute it seems like a second.

This has interesting ramifications – and not just for my pride! 😉

If we’re both kissing for a minute and each perceive it to last a second, two questions are raised:

Where has all the time gone?

Our bodies are tangled in real time for a minute, so somewhere 59 seconds remain unaccounted for. Where has that time gone?

The obvious answer is that love clouds the brain and as a result we simply think slower and subsequently perceive time differently. Amorous or amorphous? So let’s be a little more scientific; let’s talk time dilation.

Did the Earth move bringing a change in the reference frame? Or were we swept off our feet taking us to a lower gravitational potential? I’ll say yes on both counts, and the time as experienced by us and that experienced by external observers (which I hasten to point out that there were none – despite living in Holland!) differed.

But how does it stand for the passage of time within the ‘experiment’?

The original postulation was that time passes at differing rates for the (willing) kisser and the (perhaps not so willing) kissee. But it turns out that my wife feels the same as I, i.e. that she suspects that during her minute of kissing, an hour has passed for me.

So question 2…

Have we stumbled on the twin paradox?

If both of us feel that for us time is passing more quickly than for the other, have we bumped into a kind of reverse twin paradox?

The twin paradox is where one twin zooms off at high speed and comes back to find that he’s aged less than his Earth bound brother. The paradox arises (though disputed by some experts on wikipedia) that the laws of sibling rivalry mean that the brothers argue, in this case about who has moved relative to who and thus which one of the two has aged less.

The parallel with my wife is that we argue which one of us is experiencing the second and which one experiences the hour.

Well. There are ways to make up with your wife after an argument! 😉

One possible explanation for the paradox is that the traveling twin accelerated away from the other, had a change of mind and slowed down to a stop, turned round, and came back home again. Or in other words, there was a change in the reference framework and special relativity no longer holds. i.e. the twins are identical in looks, but not in experience. They are different from each other. (Obviously; one’s into space travel and the other one wants to sit at home writing up his blog). I still suspect that if the twins were truly identical in all respects, and experienced identical circumstances, the paradox would remain.


So the mindset needs to be the same. But bringing this back to my wifey, if we are both feeling the same way then there is a very real risk that universe will shake itself apart because nature abhors paradoxes.

At the same time – and I can’t stress this strongly enough – kissing my wife without consent is a highly dangerous activity. Universes have heaved under the strain of the knowledge, black holes have collapsed, and supernovae have extinguished themselves and hidden themselves under a safe rock.

There we have it. Kissing with consent in the time2timetravel HQ makes the universe a safer (and much happier) place!



safer universe
Image credit: Marc Garrido I Puig

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!

An Experiment with Relativity

Einstein is famous for his theory of relativity, but he also described it using hot stoves and a pretty girl. This lead me to conduct my own experiment.

Einstein described relativity using hot stoves and a pretty girl:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

I got round to thinking about combining the two – not by sending the pretty girl into the kitchen (yikes!), but thinking about something far more interesting:

When I kiss a hot girl for a minute, it seems like a second.

For the hot girl though, it would probably seem like an hour.

So the question is this: if I can make it last an hour for her…does that make me a good lover?

So much for thought experiments. I’ve got something I want discuss with my wife…


Einstein's theory of hot girls, stoves and relativity.
Image credit: Gabriella Fabbri.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit, like or circle time2timetravel on Facebook and Google+

Sign up here to receive future posts sent direct to your email!