Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slate Article: Time-Traveling for Dummies

With the recent release of the movie adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's (really most excellent) book The Time Traveler's Wife came this article on Slate:

Time-Traveling for Dummies

In which a physicist lays out some ground rules for the use of time-travel in fiction.

A couple favorite quotes from the Slate article:
Quantum randomness must obey well-established laws, and Novikov showed that the probability of producing a different future with a time machine was zero. To put it more simply: You cannot alter history in any way that changes it from what it always was.

Matched with (my character) Teresa's words:
"Ye cannae change the past, lass.  Ye can only do what ye have already done!"

But if you've already seen what your destiny is, then the future is already written. Making that self-consistent future play out is one of the great challenges of time-travel fiction.

Yes, I can tell you: it is!

I read the article with increasing glee, as I had constructed my own time-travel "rules" based on my own background as a physicist, and was very happy to see that I seem to have gotten it "right"...

To wit: my 2.5-year-old posts on the topic in my own book establish that Elspeth is moving within one, self-consistent universe, her "time machine" is space-time itself, so she can travel back beyond her own birth, her own supposedly "free will" actions to change history actually result in the occurrence as she recalls it, etc. (No spoilers here! Not really.)