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Daniel Sheehan

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I'm going back in time. Where should I go? What do I do?

Going back in time will change the Now.

Our Now will no longer be what we know it to be because what I do then will have a ripple effect that changes our present.
Knowing that I can't come back and the thread to this present will be forever severed, how far back should I go and what should I change?
Mind you that You, in all likelihood, may never be and your concerns for the present will be moot.

To when do I go?
What do I change?


ADDENDUM:
This is a fantasy outside of what we know of quantum mechanics. Assume that I have a magic talisman that can translate me to the past. The debate is premised on what should and/or shouldn't be done when I travel back in time.

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  • Sep 17 2012: "I'm going back in time. Where should I go?"

    Go to the best day in your life.

    "What do I do?"

    Nothing, just watch, don't change anything. You wouldn't want to turn your own time into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, now would you?
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      Sep 18 2012: Oddly, I think my best days are more malleable than my worst days.

      My best days seem to be good stuff stacked on good stuff stacked on good stuff. Topple that tower and what you get is a pile of chaotic good stuff.

      But for my darkened days, they balance on the sharp end of the pin. All too often my survival depended on that precarious balance. The resulting chaotic pile of that horror could be unbearable and I couldn't guarantee that I'd survive it.
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    Sep 11 2012: Just watch old reruns of peabody on Rocky and Bullwinkle and call it good...
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      Sep 17 2012: Yeah, this question has been rolling back and forth in me since I was a kid in the sixties watching The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
      Even today when I watch the cartoon I go back in my mind and I'm sitting on the floor two feet away watching a dinky black and white TV nudging my brother at the joke I got and he didn't.
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      Sep 17 2012: I'm going to hide a Guttenberg Bible test print to be found later. Keep an eye out for it.
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    Sep 11 2012: Hey you can travel back in time any time you like. You don't have to be anywhere else but you will need some technology and a different pair of spectacles. Lets begin the adventure. You will need something pleasant to drink, either warm or cool depending on whether you live in a hot climate or a cool one. You will need a gentle breath of fresh air. You might want some supplies like a bar of chocolate or to put some coffee in that warm milk you might be drinking. Go and lay down wherever you normally sleep at night (or if you are not sleeping that well) whereever you sleep. Lay down and close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth. Three to five times should be enough. Open your eyes and look at your nightstand (or wherever you put important things). What is there ? Bet it is a mobile phone, a set of keys, some change and possibly an alarm clock. Maybe there is a bowl or tray. Maybe there is a photo. These objects represent what is important in your life right now. Sit up slowly and move gently to a sitting position you find comfortable or stand up if you prefer. Notice what else is in the room. If it is in your eyeline and easy to reach that is what is important to you now. If it is very important to you it is immediately near you. Now think about what is in the cupboards and stored in the drawers. It is hidden because it is valuable to you in some way. Now think what you would want to take with you if there was an emergency evacuation. You have 5 minutes. Don't panic, don't rationalise just place it on the bed gently. Stop. Have a drink. Do some more deep breathing. Now, what is there and what does it mean to you. You will need your memories and your senses to explore the meaning of the objects. What emotions do they arouse in you ? Note particularly the ones given as gifts by others. Hey you are time-travelling. Do not respond to any of the emotions just note them for now. See next post.
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    Sep 11 2012: Hi Daniel... very interesting thought experiment. I would say that you should travel to Italy in the years 1470/1480 and should invite Christopher Columbus and Niccolo Machiavelli to live luxuriously in a beach house for the rest of their lives. Sometimes i wonder what would the world be without the influence of those two people.

    cheers
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      Sep 17 2012: That would be a great trip. I'd do it just for the face time with Columbus or Machiavelli.
      Yep, this would be a very different world without their influence.
  • Sep 8 2012: Since this is just fantasy:

    Go way back to when mankind all lived in caves, before warfare was really a problem. Teach classes in peaceful conflict resolution, and hope for the best.
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      Sep 11 2012: I'm amused by the image of me standing in front of a group of cavemen (OK, cave people) pointing to drawings on the wall pantomiming being nice to each other, with one caveman in the corner as the dunce.

      That raises the point that cave drawings were used not only for recording events but also for illustrating techniques for hunting, stories of origin, and territorial boundaries.

      Schools do go back all the way to the beginning of history.
      • Sep 11 2012: After I wrote that comment, it occurred to me that the language barrier might be a problem.

        But if you are clever enough to find a way to go back in time, surely you could overcome a few other difficulties.
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    Sep 7 2012: Wouldn't you have to step outside the current known laws that govern the known human view of the universe and therefore literally disappear?wouldn't you have to have a bit of this timezone around you to keep you anchored and in doing so literally keep you from interacting with any past timeframe? i'm just musing.

    I would go back to the age of the megafauna and get some climate and atmospheric data and some biological samples.
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      Sep 11 2012: "Going back in time" would create two fixed temporal points linked by a pre-deterministic thread. The pre-deterministic thread would support variables along the direction of time but have to terminate at both ends in a specific manner. There would be specific conditions that would have to be met along the time frame within the tolerance of the variables, as example the chair I am sitting in when I translate back would have to be there at the latter fixed point.
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        Sep 12 2012: Yes,i see what you mean.

        If i was to jump back,it would be better if i jumped from a cave that hasn't altered in 10 million years,that way i would be certain of arriving within the cave and have the cavefloor under me or hope to have it there,then the jump back would be firmer in probability?
  • Sep 7 2012: How will it change the NOW, if you can only be in the NOW?
    If you tell us what you are going to try and change, can you tell us NOW, before you go back, and try and change something? Something that we know ahead of time so that we can spot, monitor, or resist it, or keep it the same or go with it to see what happens?
    You know, sort of like an experiment in the NOW. From back then, that NOW, to NOW, NOW?

    And if you can, will it change the NOW of when it was supposed to happen, so that we won't know what NOW it will happen in?

    Now must be a series. No Other Way
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      Sep 11 2012: The Now we are experiencing has to be result of a series of events. But if the Now we experience is the result of a modified chain of events we'd never know there would have been a difference because we'd have no reference of the unmodified chain of events.

      Probability says that it has happened and we don't know the difference.
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    Sep 7 2012: (You can't affect the future unless you break the laws of physics. But let's have fun and imagine free will exists.)

    I don't mind disappearing. But it'd be disapointing if I disappeared because of a lame butterfly effect such as stepping on a rat. I'd rather you made a complete mess.
    If I were you I'd go back about 300.000 years in the past, travel around the world and see how many different kinds of homonoids I can get pregnant.
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      . . 100+

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      Sep 11 2012: Ge..........................................................raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaald !!!!???
      The answer would be a maximum of half of one.... before you would be clubbed
      over the head by the second hominoid.....;-)
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        Sep 11 2012: Animalistic tribalism would get me killed off really fast for being "Not one of Us."
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      Sep 11 2012: I'd never purposely crush your butterfly Gerald.

      Spreading my DNA among the early hominoids, in several generations everyone starts to look like me.
      That’s kind of scary.
    • Sep 11 2012: Question: Was there a woman that was so dear to you, so special, that you will always keep in your heart? A woman for which (when you go back in time via your memory) you can say that no matter who you met on your way, she was always the one who stayed somewhere in your mind?
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    Gail . 50+

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    Sep 7 2012: Go back to 1819 when the Supreme Court threw out the Constitution as the law of the land and replaced our Constitutional Republic with British Common Law, where it (the court) ASSUMED themost important role in what has erroneously been called a "system of checks and balances". Then tell everyone you know what happened.

    That one decision (McCulloch v Maryland) is the single starting point where all that is wrong with government began. It established a national bank that is the cause of all of America's (and the world's) problems today. The court assumed the role of the people (specifically taking it away from you if congress wants) and made it easy for the Robber Barons of their day to buy politicians.
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      Sep 11 2012: I'm not well read-in on McCulloch v Maryland.
      My question would be, what is the conflict that had to be resolved at that time, and what were the proposed resolutions that were offered or possible?
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        Sep 11 2012: Problem. Federalists wanted a National Bank but the Constitution prevented it. Anti-Federalists (who were successful at stopping the ratification of the constitution without a Bill of Rights) were opposed because a national bank was not "necessary" & the Const. convention denied it. A national bank was placed in Maryland and it claimed to be free from state taxes. That's why MD objected. The claims:

        1. 10th Amendment prohibits government from assuming ungranted power.
        2. The establishment of a national band wasn't "necessary" as there were workable alternatives, thus the necessary powers could not be used.
        3. When the Constitution was offered, 6 states vehemently disagreed. (VA, MA, CT, NY, NH, & RI). Their articles of ratification stated the terms under which they would be part of the union.

        All of the above was the anti-federalist position. Their papers and speeches are still not advertised by government - as the Federalist papers are. Thomas Jefferson was 1 of their loudest spokes person.

        The Federalist position remained unchanged from that which is listed in the failed arguments presented by the Federalist papers. An all-power central government - no state sovereignty. Common people should not have a voice in government because they need angels looking after them.

        Bottom line: Constitution set aside and called a "guideline". Bill of Rights called "suggestions". State sovereignty voided. Supreme court elevated itself beyond that which constitution allowed - marking the first time in western civilization that a court usurped authority of a government. Necessary powers don't have to be necessary to be assumed and implied powers do not need to be constitutionally granted to be assumed. (Anti-Federalists never accepted the idea that courts should have the power it claimed, but they, being less wealthy, were in a minority.

        It was a new government - of the $, by the $, and for the $.

        It's the greatest secret the US government now holds.

        It's what's wrong today
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        Sep 11 2012: The court also said that the 10th Amendment - that says that government should have no power unless granted it by the Constitution should really mean that government should have EVERY power unless expressly prohibited it by the constitution, and even then, it can still assume those powers using necessary powers - whether or not they are necessary - or implied powers (that are not granted in the Constitution)

        It was most certainly a coup d'etat by the bankers and their wealthy friends.
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          Sep 17 2012: OK, I'll see what I can do.

          I won't make any promises but, what would be a better resolution of the issues that would work out to our advantage?
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    Sep 7 2012: I alwas found the topic of reverse time travel interesting, for the same reason as your question seems to pose...the "paradox" that you refer to of changing the present so your own existance is impossible as you mention about "closing the thread".

    But even under the criteria you state, I have to pose another question. If you are looking at the "best" thing you could do to change the future of the new "time thread" you will age in, I don't think you could really come up with a viable answer. Why?

    Your assumption is that you are the ONLY time traveller that went back to the same time thread you are currently in. If you can do it, it's reasonable someone else(s) could too. So you won't be the ONLY one making changes to the current time thread you went back to. You have no idea what they may do to alter the new future for everybody, regarldess of what you did.

    Basically, you couldn't predict the new future in the old time thread any better than you can predict the one you are in now.

    That said, I'd just try to "do" (change...make a better decision about) ) whatever I thought I did "wrong" in my previous time-line...and hope for the best.

    ADD: Of course, there is the theory of parallel universes created for each indiviuual. So your going back might mean you WERE the only one in "your" new universe. If that happened, then you...and only you...could be the catalyst for future change. But you couldn't be sure what that change would ultimately result in either. Too many variables if all the other people in "your" new universe are going to react to the change you created.
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      Sep 11 2012: On what is known as the "Grandfather Paradox" - Going back in time and killing your grandparents or in some way preventing them from producing offspring that would give birth to you, thus preventing you from going back in time.
      I don't think the time line could support this type of temporal anomaly. The outcome would sever the time thread supporting my translation back in time and I'd wind up where I began with a null result. My magic talisman would break.

      Regardless of what I thought would be the "best" action to change the time line of the past I could only be sure of a "different" outcome of the time line. For example, if I went back to Ireland in the early 1800's and introduce variable farming techniques and a blight resistant potato that would prevent the Irish Potato Famine my great-grandparents may not have emigrated to America and I (or what would be me) may have been born in Ireland. It would be a different outcome not necessarily a best outcome.

      As far as changing the mistakes of my past, I have to accept that whatever time I went back to and made a significant change to the time line would alter my life experiences leading up to using the magic talisman.
      There are some mistakes that I don't think I should change.

      Current parallel universe theories include the concept that there are universes that the change I'd make were already made. In that case I'd arrive at that temporal causality and then continue along in that parallel universe's time line.
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    Sep 17 2012: There was another conversation recently about being awake being a dysfunctional state. Conversation was with Rick. You can have a look back at my previous conversations to find conversational thread. Understand Rick wanted to explore functionality of awake state and debate which is potentially more useful in creativity. Conversation wandered into purpose of sentient creatures besides human beings. Great conversation. Conversations not lost here on TED. Only recent conversation so should not be difficult to find.
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    Sep 11 2012: O.K. you are on an expedition. At this point you need to think about heading back to your starting point. Go back to where ever you sleep. Lay down and sleep. Try to stay asleep for several hours so your brain can run through several layers of sleep. Sorry forgot to say you might want a notepad and pen. If you wake up during the night after a particularly vivid dream, write down who was in it and what they said. Don't analyse, just write it down and look at it again in the morning. If you don't remember dreaming, it is O.K. Just lay there and listen, listen to the sounds in the room, listen hard. Do you have a clock that ticks ? Is all silent ? Now notice the sounds outside, what is going on there ? Do the sounds trigger any memories from the past ? There might be information in the emotional responses you have to the sounds you are hearing. Useful ? Now turn on whatever you use to listen to music. Listen to the words of the song, imagine someone is saying them directly to you. Do the words answer the question in your heart ?Appreciate this all sounds a bit 'ohmm' but really it works. We can all time-travel. Like you said you do need to be a bit wary of the slipstream and anticipate turbulence during the return journey and you don't want to change a thing. Don't act on the emotions, just listen to the sounds in your environment, then think it through and analyse what the words said and the feelings you have. Be very careful acting on any of your thoughts or feelings will have irreversible consequences that will affect others. Only act if you are sure you will hurt no-one and that includes yourself. Want to do something, O.K. do it but do it in a safe way. Now you have probably noticed this all takes a lot of time and space. So the journey carries a warning. Do not start it unless you definately want to finish it. O.K. that is the big secret to timetravelling without getting sick and tired. Be prepared before heading for the blue horizon.
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      Sep 17 2012: Great advice. Its a lot like the prep and post I go through for Out Of Body (imagination) travel. I don't do the time travel with OOB but in my lucid dreaming I'm unencumbered of time.
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    Sep 11 2012: Problem. Federalists wanted a National Bank but the Constitution prevented it. Anti-Federalists (who were successful at stopping the ratification of the constitution without a Bill of Rights) were opposed because a national bank was not "necessary" & the Const. convention denied it. A national bank was placed in Maryland and it claimed to be free from state taxes. That's why MD objected. The claims:

    1. 10th Amendment prohibits government from assuming ungranted power.
    2. The establishment of a national band wasn't "necessary" as there were workable alternatives, thus the necessary powers could not be used.
    3. When the Constitution was offered, 6 states vehemently disagreed. (VA, MA, CT, NY, NH, & RI). Their articles of ratification stated the terms under which they would be part of the union.

    All of the above was the anti-federalist position. Their papers and speeches are still not advertised by government - as the Federalist papers are. Thomas Jefferson was 1 of their loudest spokes person.

    The Federalist position remained unchanged from that which is listed in the failed arguments presented by the Federalist papers. An all-power central government - no state sovereignty. Common people should not have a voice in government because they need angels looking after them.

    Bottom line: Constitution set aside and called a "guideline". Bill of Rights called "suggestions". State sovereignty voided. Supreme court elevated itself beyond that which constitution allowed - marking the first time in western civilization that a court usurped authority of a government. Necessary powers don't have to be necessary to be assumed and implied powers do not need to be constitutionally granted to be assumed. (Anti-Federalists never accepted the idea that courts should have the power it claimed, but they, being less wealthy, were in a minority.

    It was a new government - of the $, by the $, and for the $.

    It's the greatest secret the US government now holds.
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    Sep 10 2012: Interesting association you make between quantum mechanics and a magic talisman. Hmmm. Anyway, DO NOT go back in Time to before your conception! That would mean you would pre-exist yourself. The result can't be good.
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      Sep 11 2012: Paradox vs. Paradox

      I'd be existing in two places at the same time if I limit myself to the same period in which I exist. I do believe that any changes I make would resolve itself in a shorter time frame and have less impact on the over all time line.

      But respectfully I prefer to remain unique.
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        Sep 11 2012: Oh, you are forever unique sir. We all are. No two the same. 7 billion one-of-a-kinds. I'm sticking with Einstein who said we may travel forward in Time, but never back. Maybe you are here from the past and that is why you have the urge to travel back, you're homesick. Our present is your future. Say hi to Bill and Ted if you see them.
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    Sep 7 2012: I'll go first. (chuckle)

    It is imposible for me to go back and affect any timeline that would prevent me from being. My timeline would still have to be secure so some of you would have to exist in a consistant present.
    Are you the lucky ones?