Time knot – theories about time that inspired science fiction: On December 1, 2017, the German science fiction series Dark on Netflix was released and instantly gained critical acclaim. In addition to the fascinating and compelling characters, the series is impressive also because it uses real scientific hypotheses and studies to be very flexible in telling the story.
The main driving force behind the content of Dark, as well as many books, movies or TV series in the genre of science fiction, is time travel and the associated paradoxes that scientists and philosophers have long debated. In this article we will discuss one specific hypothesis of time travel, which is very popular today, in particular – time nodes.
Parallel worlds and the paradox of time
One of the most famous (and boring) theoretical difficulties of time travel is the “grandfather paradox”. Imagine creating a time machine through which you travel to the past and kill your grandfather. In that case, your parent would not have been born, and therefore you would not have seen the light of day, and therefore you would not have been able to travel in the past to kill your grandfather – this is also a paradox.
The simplest solution to this paradox is the “multi-world theory”: when you travel to the past, you actually visit a parallel world where everything is identical to your reality and you killed your grandfather right there. However, this version of avoiding paradox is quite boring.
The idea that all possible worlds exist at once is the subject of many movies, books and TV series, and it is theoretically possible. The source of inspiration for the hypothesis was Erwin Schrდინdinger in his time (yes, he’s Schrგdinger that “kills” cats).
In a 1952 paper, Schordinger told students that his equations were “lunatic” because they “simultaneously describe current stories.” Clearly Schrდინdinger did not describe anything “lunatic”, he was only talking about superposition.
Superposition is the ability of a quantum system to be in several states simultaneously until it is observed. Schrდინdinger Cat’s mental experiment is a good illustration of this phenomenon.
However, as I mentioned, many world theories bypass Grandpa’s paradox. It can be reconsidered by another approach. So, let’s go back to the same experiment.
The knot of time – whether you will kill your grandfather
You created a time machine through which you traveled past and killed your grandfather. As a result your parent was not born, you also could not see the light of day and could not travel in the past, which is why your grandfather did not die, he had a child who eventually gave birth to you. Because you were born, you made a time machine, you traveled in the past, you killed your grandfather, why you were not born, and you could not travel in the past to kill your grandfather, that is, your grandfather survived, why you were born, and so on indefinitely.
Such a world, where life seems to be tied in one knot and two realities are going on at the same time, where in one place you kill your grandfather and you are not born, and in another you do not kill and you are born, is an analogy of the above superposition. If the world in which we live is in a superposition of two states, then it is logical that the paradox of grandfather can be avoided.
However, just because something is logically consistent does not mean that it is real. In practice, other questions arise: is it really possible to travel in time and / or is it possible for a time loop to really exist? This is still a matter of controversy among scientists, though it is better to leave this discussion to physicists. Before that, let’s discuss the concept of a “time node” in more detail.
A time node or circular causality is a theoretical model where cause and effect are related to each other. The past, present, and future occur simultaneously, although we can only perceive time linearly. This is the idea that inspired the creation of Dr. Manhattan, the character of the TV series Dark and Watchmen.
Suppose one day the courier brings you the book, “How to Make a Time Machine.” You follow the instructions and Eureka! After a lot of hard work, in 10 years you have created a fully functional time machine. Decide to pick up a book and travel to the past 10 years where the instruction of making a time machine you left in the past.
In this case, it turns out that the book through which you created the time machine, you give yourself. However, if you did not create a time machine, you would not have discovered the book. Then the question arises, where does this book come from or what is its origin? In such a “time knot” where everything moves in a circle, no one has created a book. There is no “original”, it just moves in an infinite circle. The result (making a time machine) determines the cause (giving a book to a past version of oneself).
Time curvature and copy without first source
In mathematical physics, a “time knot” is called a “locked time-curvature.” It was developed in 1939 by Willem Jacob van Stokum and represents a theoretical mathematical model that was later substantiated by the legendary logician Kurt Gödel. The theory of general relativity does not theoretically rule out the existence of such “distortions”.
However, apart from the fact that the physical creation of a time travel car is associated with additional paradoxes that preclude its existence in reality, traveling directly between information past and future seems to contradict the second principle of thermodynamics, according to which entropy in a closed system is ever-increasing. Aspires. Everything is stored in our “time knot”. Many physicists believe that this paradox can be avoided, but this is a separate issue.
The “time knot”, where the result is the cause and there is no primary source of circulating information, puts the notion of “free will” in a rather philosophical context. Let’s go back to the mental experiment where one day you received instructions on how to assemble a time machine:
If you created the time machine because you got the instruction book, and if you discovered the book because you created the time machine, what does that say about free will? Can you refuse to create a car while receiving a book? – No, because you have already created a time machine, otherwise you could not get a book. Consequently, you are doomed to do the same thing that leads to a tragic realization: time is your master and free will is not really yours.
The real physics and mathematical theories that go beyond these mental experiments are quite complex, and I can not even discuss them, except that the format of this article is erroneous. However, such a combination of his poetic simplifications is quite interesting and is also a graceful way of conveying the history of characters in fiction or cinematography.