Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Temporal Models

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2006); The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

Whitcomb compares the continuum to "'...a mesh of tough rubber bands...'" in the first Time Patrol story, "Time Patrol" (Time Patrol, pp. 1-53 AT p. 15). He adds that it is not easy to distort the continuum because it tends "'...to snap back to its, uh, "former" shape.'" (ibid.)

Whitcomb hesitates before the word "former." There is a reluctance to acknowledge that a second temporal dimension is involved here. If there is a four-dimensional continuum with three successive shapes:

former shape;
distorted shape;
restored former shape -

- then those three shapes have a relationship of "before" and "after," i.e., a temporal relationship, i.e., they are distributed along a second temporal dimension at right angles to the familiar temporal dimension. There is no need for the word "former" to be placed inside inverted commas.

"Time Patrol" was published in 1955 whereas "The Year of the Ransom" (Time Patrol, pp. 641-735) was published in 1988:

"...reality is conditional. It is like a wave pattern on a sea. Let the waves - the probability-waves of ultimate underlying quantum chaos - change their rhythm, and abruptly that tracery of ripples and foam-swirls will be gone, transformed into another." (p. 671)

These are completely contradictory views of time. Further, "The Year of the Ransom" almost articulates what emerges later in The Shield Of Time - that temporal changes need not result from the activities of time travellers. Quantum chaos itself can do the trick. The Shield Of Time partly reconciles the two temporal models. See here.

In The Shield Of Time, Wanda Tamberly repeats almost word for word what Whitcomb had said:

"'World lines...They're like a mesh of tough rubber bands, right? Pull on them, and they'll try to spring back to their proper, uh, configuration.'" (1987 A.D., p. 31)

Wanda even reproduces Whitcomb's hesitancy in completing the thought. She is able to say what she does because she has learned "'...a little about relativity.'" (ibid.) But I thought that in relativity the world lines were static?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Such subtle speculations about the nature of time, reality, the cosmos, etc., certainly helps to explain Everard's anxious bewilderment in another story that he didn't pretend to understand how the universe worked, that he only WORKED there. And I certainly share his puzzlement!