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Time Travelers' Convention 836

usermilk writes "Some folks at MIT are holding a time-travelers' convention. The idea is to make it so famous and so widely-known that even thousands of years in the future, people will still know exactly when and where this time-traveler convention went down, and will all come travel to it at some point in their illustrious time-traveling careers. For those interested in attending, it's on May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC) in the East Campus Courtyard at MIT. 42:21:36.025N, 71:05:16.332W (42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees)."
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Time Travelers' Convention

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  • Paradoxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:10PM (#12401975) Homepage Journal

    If no time travellers turn up on May 7th, will everyone stop promoting it after the date?

    Personally I would have thought it'd make sense to give a bit more advanced notice than a week, if only to give people a chance to get the word around more beforehand (thus more likely to be archived).

  • by Aeiri ( 713218 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:12PM (#12402005)
    Because then we would be hearing reports of a massive gathering at MIT, but not know what it is.

    And on top of that, nobody from the "present" would be there.
  • zerg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:17PM (#12402064) Homepage
    Even if someone time travelled into the past for a few seconds, wouldn't they wind up in the icy cold of space while the planet speeds along on its normal course around the sun?
  • by Bradmont ( 513167 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:17PM (#12402065)
    Maybe they did and someone came back to tell us it was going to happen, so we can go; otherwise, maybe nobody from the present would believe them in the future!
  • Re:Vonnegut? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:19PM (#12402079)
    Its a random quote each time you load the page.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:25PM (#12402145) Homepage
    For a universe in which time travel is possible and the past can be altered by time travelers the only stable state is one in which time travel is never invented. Work it out.
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gfody ( 514448 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:32PM (#12402211)
    Probably didn't explain it very clearly. ;)

    I'm sure you meant to say that if you travel back in time to shoot hitler, you could in fact shoot him, just that once you left on your mission to shoot him you could never return to that same place because that place exists in a relative path from a place where hitler was not shot.

    Of course if you could transcend time and thus travel freely thru the infinite possible dimensions, why would you want to go and shoot hitler.. the dimension in which you shoot hitler would probably cast you a pretty dark lifetime anyways. You'd be better off choosing a dimension where somebody else shot hitler and has yourself cast as a young millionaire or something.
  • They Don't Get It! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:32PM (#12402213)
    There's no need to publicize it beforehand. If no time travelers attend, there's no need to publicize it at all, since it would do no good. It seems like even the organizers of the event have no real understanding of what time travel to the past implies.
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:38PM (#12402262)
    I think "Time is an illusion" is an easier way to say it. If you have a picture you and a friend are looking at, and he wonders if the right side can ever travel to the left side and modify things, you'd wonder what he was talking about. I would argue that time is like that: static if viewed from enough dimensions, available for observation (in theory) as one massive N dimensional statue.
  • If you were really a time traveler, why would you want to show up at a known place on a known date? The government would be waiting with an awesome arsenal of firepower, waiting to forcefully take your tools from you.

    Or if you're the big-business conspiracy theory type, substitute "government" for "private mercenaries."
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CowbertPrime ( 206514 ) <sirmoo@cowbert.2y . n et> on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:39PM (#12402271) Homepage
    actually the entire premise of the convention is flawed because the current model of time traveled dictated by relativity suggests that one cannot travel backwards in time past the point where the time machine was discovered/invented.
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:46PM (#12402321)
    > Actually Time Travel by itself is impossible.

    Yeah, almost like it's impossible for objects heavier than air to fly
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:49PM (#12402347)
    > Assuming time travel is possible,

    I am a time traveller, it is just that I seem unable to alter the direction and speed from that of everything else.

  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 01, 2005 @07:57PM (#12402413)
    Doh! Free will is an illusion. David Hume demonstrated this three hundred years ago when he pointed out that, as a matter of definition, every process is either deterministic or random.

    There are two common arguments for free will and they are both extremely weak:

    (1) I feel like I have free will, therefore I do.

    (2) Free will must exist because lots of other stuff (like our moral systems, the law, etc.) don't make sense without it.

  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <frogbert@gmail. c o m> on Sunday May 01, 2005 @08:00PM (#12402432)
    I've always wanted to know why anyone would risk changing the past, I mean if I were to go back in time and kill Hitler as a child then perhaps the world would not have had WWII which would be good in the short run but it would mean that most countries probably wouldn't figure out that having all out war is bad for everyone involved. If war was staved off for a little while and weapons got more powerful then the next war they had would be even more devistating.
  • If he hadn't... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yolegoman ( 762615 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @08:32PM (#12402676) Homepage
    He wouldn't be around to decide whether or not to go back in time and do her.

    Obviously, he went back in time. Pervert.
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @08:45PM (#12402763) Homepage
    I think I'll bumped into you at a room party there. You'll said that someone on Slashdot told you how to find it, but then you'll said to not tell you when you posted because it wasn't worth the trip.
  • Re:Ahh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dswensen ( 252552 ) * on Sunday May 01, 2005 @08:53PM (#12402818) Homepage
    What's the matter, John, didn't have "time" to make a Slashdot account?

    Hyuk hyuk
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @09:00PM (#12402866) Homepage
    If we understood how all the wiring of the brain works, and understood all the inputs the output could be predicted.

    Are you sure? If quantum mechanics are involved in any meaningful way, then some of the events may be literally random (i.e. not a function of any observable input). In that case, even perfect knowledge of the inputs and the wiring would be insufficient.

  • Re:Ahh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @10:28PM (#12403526) Homepage
    Hm, first time that the wikipedia detractors make sense to me - I know they take their NOPV thing seriously, but shouldn't there be some sort of "stupid hoax considered a stupid hoax until proven otherwise" rule?

    Striving to represent all sides of an issue is one thing, but those who believe a lame hoax and those who don't, do not two valid sides of an issue make.

    I mean, come on: "there are discrepancies between Titor's claims of the future and actual events"? Oh really, cause it all looked pretty solid to me!

    Somehow their reputation just got knocked down a notch for me.

  • Re:Ahh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jonathunder ( 105885 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @11:08PM (#12403813) Homepage
    So fix it. Be bold.
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by operagost ( 62405 ) on Sunday May 01, 2005 @11:35PM (#12403972) Homepage Journal
    Hop into your spaceship, head out for a leisurely cruise at or near the speed of light.
    Half right. Travel at precisely the speed of light is prohibited.
    Want to go backwards in time? I leave that as an exercise to the reader. Hint: think black holes.
    Hint: I believe you really have no fucking idea and just like to watch yourself post.
  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mattintosh ( 758112 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:08AM (#12404438)
    Better yet... Time travel isn't possible because time doesn't exist.

    We speak of "time" because it's convenient. It allows us to measure our lives and our activities against a single background. We keep track of "time" by observing the predictable patterns of celestial objects, as well as by setting mechanical devices to synchronize with those celestial movement cycles.

    But what exactly is "time"? Time is a series of events. Nothing more. You can't undo things in real life. A broken vase can't be put back together just by reversing the event that caused it to break. Why? Because events are irreversible. You can cause a negating event for some things (like turning a light on or off), but you can never undo an event once it's done.

    So, simply put, time doesn't exist. It's merely perception of a series of events. The fact that it's perception is made clear by the phrase "time flies when you're having fun." Your brain records images of events into your memory, sometimes with a record of celestial body locations or numeric representations thereof.

    The more interested you are in what is happening around you, the more things your brain will record. But having limited processing resources, it will skip the "timestamp" on many of those events. The relative difference between each "timestamp" is much farther apart than is expected or normal, so "time flies."

    When you're disinterested in events around you, the opposite is true. Your brain records some meaningless drivel and since it has lots of resources available, it slaps a "timestamp" on every one of those mental notes. Boring stuff seems to take much longer because of this.

    Let's see the writers for the next Star Trek series (several years from now, I hear) put this tidbit of time-travel logic to work. It'll at least spare us some crappy re-hashes of Nazis in space (spaaaaaaaaaaaace?).
  • Re:Ahh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:33AM (#12404540) Homepage
    I play an alternate personality on a message board other than slashdot, and do what some people would refer to as trolling, but I and at least several others who don't know my true identity, think it's a form of performance art/humour. Many people find my routine funny, and although I should be irritating in how I portray myself, I give enough clues than I'm not as dumb as I come across, and that is humourous to people. John Titor is a performance comic/troll, which sounds to me like an interesting guy/group of people to know.

    Yep, I understand the "Titor urge" well. People are willing to believe the darndest things, so long as they are "told with a straight face". The classic example is the Ouija board. There are two kinds of people when it comes to using a Ouija board as a group: the people saying "look! it's spelling something!", and the one guy who's gently pushing the pointer around and saying "I'm not pushing it!" like everyone else. I've always been the guy pushing the pointer around, myself...

  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by droleary ( 47999 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:53AM (#12404859) Homepage

    Think of it this way, the way something happened, is the way it happened.

    Buddy, I've got a cat in a box that would or would not beg to disagree.

  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Headcase88 ( 828620 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:02AM (#12404888) Journal
    Problem is, you wouldn't even have to shoot Hitler or anything drastic like that. Just existing for any amount of time could make huge changes happen over time, which is somewhat explained by the Butterfly Effect [].

    Now, here's the tricky part: what if I decide not to go in the past and me going into the past is part of history? That would change history and oh I've gone crosseyed.

    Since I'm not a big fan of predetermined fate, I must assume that no one may go in the past of their own dimension. The two seem to go hand-in-hand as far as I see.
  • by Mycroft_VIII ( 572950 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:19AM (#12404951) Journal
    This only holds for a few specific theories of how time(travel) works.
    Sort of a multi line/track switch theory you have for your explanation.
    Now try and work it with single-line editing allowed and still explain away the 'paradox' that implies, for extra credit give two paradox solvers. :)
    Time Travel is one of the more fun things to consider.
    Wish I could remember if anyone fun showed up at this one.

  • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Temposs ( 787432 ) <temposs @ g m a i> on Monday May 02, 2005 @04:16AM (#12405139) Homepage
    My theory is that this(that the past and future are already set constant) is indeed the case and that free will is still possible. The way it would work is that you make your choices independent of time. It is your consciousness by means of your body that travels in linear time, experiencing your choices.

    But they are all your choices. So in my theory you have in fact already chosen your future choices, but not really because it's outside of time so there is no "already chosen".

    It's more like, your choices are as much a part of your being as your left arm or your mind, soul, spirit, whatever. So at the same time that your choices are "set" in advance, you still freely make all your choices, since they are a part of you.

    This roughly solves the paradox of a set time continuum and having free will. It precludes you to believe in your being existng outside of time and such.
  • Re:Ahh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrLex ( 811382 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @04:53AM (#12405258) Homepage
    Hmm, never heard of this guy until now. It was interesting to read. However, it's almost certain that this is a hoax, albeit done by an intelligent and talented man. What he did was trying to turn insightful predictions into something that people would actually be interested in. Time travel speaks to the imagination of many people, insightful predictions don't. He just used the time travel story as a vehicle to try to make people aware of what is going wrong in our current world. Most of his predictions are based on things that were known somewhere at the moment he made them. It was just a matter of finding that information. It's not because something hasn't been published widely yet, that it's not 'known' yet... Other predictions are just based on plausible extrapolations of current events.
    Of course many people don't buy the time travel story, hence don't believe anything of it. But at least he has managed to address some people. And for the others it was just entertaining :)

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.