This year the Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day event hosted by the Sci Fi, Fantasy and Steampunk meetup group out of Colorado Springs, Colorado was held in Old Colorado City on Saturday December 10th. I mean it WILL BE held there.
That was the year they mixed it with A Very Dickens’ Holiday Promenade and Fashion & Gadget Show. What a mix that was! WILL BE! What a mix that will be. Ahem.
According to most Science Fiction, time traveling can, or will, cause a paradox. Wikipedia has a great list of different examples of paradoxes here. Take the list with a grain of salt. A lot of people don’t really understand what a paradox is. I’m not even sure I really do, as it is a difficult concept (not really) that a lot of people argue fervently over (really).
So let’s start with what a paradox is NOT. It is not a pairofducks. That is a pun.
It is not something like military intelligence or conventional wisdom. Those are oxymorons. Watch out for things like ‘paradoxical oxymorons’. They will mislead you as to what a paradox really is. An oxymoron is merely two SEEMINGLY conflicting ideas put together. They may or may not actually work together. Like Deafening Silence. Those ideas seem opposite. They seem like they don’t go together. But if you have ever experienced it, it makes perfect sense.
A true paradox is the disruption of causality. Example. I pick up a rock and throw it at another rock, causing them both to break. A very linear example of cause and effect. So now we use a time machine to create a paradox. I send an arrow and a sign back in time and place it pointing at a rock. The sign says ‘throw the rock at this rock’. Then I pick up the rock, wrap it in a note that says ‘throw this rock’, and send it back in time to where the sign is. Now, you come along, see the sign and think “What?” Then you see the note and open it, finding the rock. “Oh!” So you throw the rock at the rock, breaking it.
You broke the rock with itself. Now it is broken and I cannot send it back in time. Since I cannot send it back, you won’t receive it. Since you won’t receive it, you won’t throw it. Since you didn’t throw it, it never got broken. Which means I can send it back in time with a note!
See? The whole cause-effect thing is broken. That is a paradox.
Can a true paradox exist? Not as we know it. If anyone ever invents time travel, maybe we’ll find out. More likely, anyone testing a paradox will never be able to share directly observable data and will be restricted to sharing anecdotal, non-repeatable evidence with the people around him in the new time-line they have just created.
Anyway… See you on Time Traveler’s Day! Oh wait. That was the year I missed it. No…Wait! Was that the time I beat myself up over going twice?