Past time travel question.


mattmachine

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Joined
Feb 18, 2019
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14
Let’s say Time travel to the past is possible. If you were to hop in a time machine and go to the past let’s say 2 years would my age go back 2 years? Like if I went back at 19 would I be 17 when I arrived at my destination? And would I see myself in the past? Or would it just be me in the past? And if I saw myself in the past could I talk to him and help him make better decisions? And if I did would it be on another timeline or would I alter the future of the timeline I’m in?
 

samzeman

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Joined
Mar 17, 2019
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20
It honestly depends on which model of time travel you subscribe to. I'm only going to talk about the past out of habit and because you mentioned the past only, but most of this applies to the future as well.

Aging-wise, there are two models people believe in, or talk about. The first one is physically travelling back, like in BTTF, Terminator, Doctor Who, any time travel media. It's an exciting idea because you can effectively start a new life in the past but with 'future' knowledge, or at least knowledge of what's likely to happen in your future in the past.... when the past is your present? This always happens when I talk about time travel lol. The other model though is sending your conciousness back to occupy the same body you had in the past, effectively granting you future knowledge without actually changing any physical things (until you act on the knowledge). This would replace the mind of your past self, so there would still only be one of you in the past.

In the first model you could see yourself in the past, in the second you couldn't (except, like usual, with a mirror). In some, rare, models if you physically travel back it means your past self disappears (Animorphs Megamorphs #2 is the only one I can think of), but that relies on some kind of metaphysical assumption that your soul can only exist once at a time, which isn't grounded in much science, so I personally don't put much heed on it.

If you saw yourself in the past then here again the models people have differ. In one model, you could talk to him fine as if he was anyone else, and help him make good decisions. This is like, the many-worlds multiverse deal you'll find most science-minded people assuming, since it has /some/ backing in quantum theories that are accepted by a wider community of scientists than just time travel speculators. However, doing this in this model wouldn't change your own future at all, or your memories or whatever, it would just adjust that timeline. So that version of you would go off and be successful while.... you could be equally or more successful alongside him because you look the same and have more knowledge by definition, at least at first? That'd be decent.

There are other options too, like the old Doctor Who style, where if you influence the past then the timeline tries a bit to heal it up and fix it (e.g second shooters, spontaneous fires burning future knowledge, people ignoring the things you do) in ways that are completely probable and you can never be sure are actually the timeline or just bad luck. That is to say, bad luck in terms of random chance, not like curses or anything. Then, if the timeline can't fix, some monsters appear and you have to fix what you broke yourself and push the person you saved in front of a car or whatever. Not to be callous lol

Altering the future of your own timeline by travelling back is kind of a no-go since that's when you get paradoxes. If you travel back and do something that prevents you travelling back, that's a paradox, so something must be done. That's why people believe in many-worlds/multiverse (because if you can only travel back to other timelines, that means you can never influence your own decision to go back) and why people also would believe in the self-healing bad-luck type of time travel where things will go wrong for you if you try to prevent yourself going back, and you'll just fall short of doing it.

I've always personally been interested in writing myself a letter in the past that convinces me to go back in time and make the changes that I made; this way, it could be a stable loop which means I can travel back to my own timeline and influence my own actual future. I just need to wait for the letter to arrive for me at the moment so that the loop can start. If it doesn't arrive, and in the future I do go back and give myself the letter, it would mean that I just make mistakes each time I send the letter back, so I don't do the exact thing every time and it means each time is different in ways that split it into new timelines. idk if you understand this lol.

Sorry for the wall of text.

TLDR: In answer to all of your questions. Maybe. ;)
 

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