I love time travel stories. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the crazy idea that we could possibly change the past or impact the future that appeals to me – it’s audaciously amazing. Thrilling. Mystifying.
I loved the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour – I’ve probably seen it a hundred times – as well as Guy Pearce in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. I grew up reading L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and as an adult, The Time-Traveler’s Wife left me pondering the notion of how frustrating it would be if time were not constant.
So when I read in the San Diego Union Tribune this morning the headline that there will a series of lectures at USD to discuss “provocative science,’ and among the topics, “Reversing Time,” I had to read on. First, I simply had to know what provocative science was. Don’t you want to know? I Googled “provocative science” and was unhappy with the results. Even Dame Wiki doesn’t seem to have a page on it. About.com doesn’t either. It appears from cursory glances at my hodge podge of search results that ‘provocative science” – and please someone correct me if I am wrong – is purposeful pondering on hypotheses we can’t yet prove. Such a definition doesn’t exactly make it science but undoubtedly has the potential to provoke some interesting conversations, dontcha think?
Some of the lectures are free and open to the public, but not the one on reversing time, dangnabbit. The UT says that not only do some scientists believe it is possible to reverse time, “they’re trying to develop experiments that would prove their theory, undermining the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one of the most important principles in science and engineering. ” Yikes. The lecturer believes the future can influence the past. Yikes yikes. There are a great many things in human history I would love to see undone. The Holocaust, the sinking of the Titanic, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, just to name a few. It is heady to think there might be a way through human endeavor to thwart past undesirable human endeavor. I am not even sure if this what these scientists believe.
But if it is. we have ask ourselves the great line from Jurassic Park (a fine Hollywood example of what happens when you to try to fix something that should’ve stayed broken) spoken by the annoyingly dear Dr. Ian Malcom: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
It’s interesting that if you look up the word “provocative” on dictionary.com, this adjective is defined first as stimulating and then degrades from there to irritating to vexing.
I think we might possibly be vexed with our results if we found a way to change the past. We might be smart enough to find a way to do it but I don’t think we are smart enough to make the past perfectly suited for the future that awaits it. Plus, sooner or later someone in the future would look at the past which we had manipulated and declare it deficient. And so on and so on.
God has granted some people tremendous intellect. Physicists who can imagine the imaginable amaze and, at times, astound me. But with knowledge there must also be wisdom. They are two different things. I don’t see God manipulating the past and He could do it with a mere word. Seems to me there is wisdom in that, along with knowledge.
We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience. ~ George Washington