On the non-existence of time

TimeTravelMy husband and I got to arguing about whether changing a single event could change — even derail — the course of history.

I think it’s possible. A small change at the just the right time could alter the outcome of something much bigger. If Queen Victoria had ordered her staff to clean up the drains of Windsor Castle — long-known as a breeding ground for typhoid — Albert would not have died when he did … and Victoria would have been a different woman and queen. And possibly, British imperialism might have followed a different course. How much would have changed? Not everything … but not nothing, either.

If Lincoln had not been assassinated, maybe some of the worst of the post Civil War divisions and hatred might have been averted. If King George had said “Fine. They can vote as British citizens. As long as they pay their taxes.” If the captain of the Titanic had slowed down and spotted the iceberg before hitting it.

nasa time machine

In our personal lives we see where had we chosen differently, many things down the line would be changed. In world history too, there are intersections. Moments when events collide, paths cross, times when history could march left, right or reverse direction.

Garry doesn’t agree. He thinks whatever happened was inevitable. With or without Prince Albert, the world was marching towards disaster. Had Lincoln lived, served his second term, he thinks the racial divisions and hatred in this country would have been unchanged. Maybe delayed by a few years, but no more than that.

TIME_MACHINEASSY_1We could have argued until dawn but other than sheer speculation, there’s no way to know. For this kind of speculation, we have science fiction and its peculiar sub-genre — alternate history. Unless, of course, we find a wormhole in time and step through.

I’m fascinated by time travel. I believe the history of everything would be completely changed had cell phones been invented earlier. If I were a time traveler, I’d give the world mobile communications technology around the time when the Greek city states were getting organized. Then I’d go back to my now and watch history unravel.

Time doesn’t exist. It’s a concept, not a thing. Which is why we can’t travel back to it. It isn’t a place. Time is a construct. It’s how we keep track of events, personally and globally. You can’t go back to a time and place in the past because it isn’t there. The future isn’t there either. Only the present exists and it’s a moving target.

delorean time machineWhich brings me back to our argument. Garry was right. By definition what happened is what had to happen The proof? It can never be changed. Everything that has ever happened was the only thing that could have happened. I can argue the other side, too. Arguments in which no one can possibly win are my favorites.

And that’s why I love time travel. Because it’s impossible.

Categories: American history, Events, History, Magic, Sci Fi - Fantasy - Time Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. love those time machine shows though …


  2. i read something that said: Earthlings are the only beings in the galaxy who have a system of measurement for something that doesn’t exist.


  3. Makes for fun conversation especially when we both KNOW their history. And, it says something about both of us that we can get charged up over history. I thoroughly enjoyed that PBS 2 parter on Queen Victoria and the British Empire during her rule. Might be hard to watch Errol Flynn movies right now, especially “The Charge of The Light Brigade”. We have another PBS goodie on Lafayette to watch. Hey, this took my mind off the stumbling the Red Sox.


  4. Wait a minute, are you saying… I can hardly write this… that Dr Who ISN’T REAL???
    Seriously though, a great post on a great topic. This is something that people could knock back and forth for ages in the wee small hours and come up with some cool theories 🙂


    • It so much fun to bat around. No one is right, no one is wrong. Garry and I got pretty hot and started yelling until we both realized how incredibly stupid it was to argue about this. But it gave us both a good laugh anyhow 😉


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