Category Archives: Science

The grandfather paradox and time travel

While reading this Stephen Hawkins article on time travel I came across a term called the “grandfather paradox” that’s quite interesting.

Suppose a time traveler goes in the past and murders his grandfather before the grandfather can meet his future wife and give birth to one of the traveler’s parents, and this means the traveler cannot be born, and this further means that since he cannot be born he cannot go back in the past to kill his grandfather and this means the grandfather doesn’t die so the traveler gets to be born and then he can go back in the past to murder his grandfather…and so on. The opponents of the time travel theory often use such paradoxes to refute the concept of time travel.

Coming to the concept of time travel…do I believe in it? I think time travel is possible if we don’t take it as a singular occurrence. In the above-mentioned article Hawkins talks about a wormhole, miniscule crevices in time that in future will be enlarged so that bigger objects, and if possible, even humans will be able to enter one entrance and exit from another. But due to the laws of physics these wormholes will collapse upon enlargement. Then he talks about traveling in great speed. Einstein’s theory of relativity says the faster you travel, the slower time gets. This has been proven by the facts that time on earth travels faster than on satellites and everyday the clocks need to be adjusted, and this happens because due to earth’s gravity and mass time travels slow. Read the article to properly understand the concept, but the whole idea again stands on the concept that the timeline is singular.

I believe, since we have an infinite universes around us, there are infinite instances of us happening everywhere, triggering different timelines. Being infinite is a big advantage, because it means every object, living or dead, can have its own timeline and every object in these infinite timelines can have their own timeslines and this goes on indefinitely. So the paradox doesn’t have to take place. Even if the traveler kills his own grandfather, he won’t be eliminating himself, but his replica existing in that timeline. And since there can be infinite timelines associated with this particular traveler there can be countless instances of his circumstances.

So in order to travel in time without causing chaos, we have to find a way to hop around different timelines. We don’t need a linear concept. We need bridges. We need tunnels that connect different timelines.

But then you may say, what happens to your own history? This is no timetravel. Timetravel would really mean an ability to go to ones own past, not the replica’s past. So if you go to your past, you’ll be experiencing it as a spectator, and not as the timetraveler. Valid question.

I’m not an expert on timetravel – neither scientifically nor philosophically – so it’s just a vocal thinking. What happens if you hop through various timelines? I mean, what if you become a serial timeline hopper, disturbing multiple timelines? According to the infinite concept it doesn’t really matter if a few timeslines, even if a few hundred timelines, get disturbed, because for infinite timelines there are infinite realities. We are only conscious of this timeline. I’m writing this blog post, then I’ll publish it, and at this moment you are reading it (oh, so you have read till now! Great :-) ) … we all belong to a particular timeline. If I go to another timeline I may disturb that timeline and the world existing in that timeline, and I may even alter this particular timeline with my absence, and then after a while, come back and resume my normal activities. People do disappear and then come back, without causing much havoc in the current timeline.

You might have done things in your life – whether good or bad – that you normally wouldn’t do. All of a sudden people turn into saints and normal citizens turn into mass murders and psychopaths. People fall sick without reason and the sick get better with no medical explanation. Why does the behavior of some people get altered without warning? Maybe someone crosses over from another timeline and completely changes the character of his or her replica in our world. Sometimes people come back to their normal selves and sometimes they don’t. Maybe that’s how we see ghosts too. Suppose a man dies and then his existence from another timeline comes over and now is totally clueless because in this timelines he’s dead and now the neighbor from another timeline simply is unable to go back.

This all seems hypothetical but if we want timetravel without murdering grandfathers and consequently, ourselves, we’ll need to think beyond linear timelines.

Chandrayaan-I finds water on the moon

Chandrayaan-I, India’s first ever lunar mission, and it has found water on the moon. The reports are, allegedly, ‘unambiguous’, but NASA’s remote sensing instruments installed on Chandrayaan-I have clearly indicated that there might be as much as a liter of water in every ton of lunar soil, and that’s lots of water.Chandrayaan water on moon

The Indian media is in a frenzy of course. I remember the launch of Chandrayaan-I didn’t create much buzz in the mainstream media, in fact Rahul G and Sonia G travelling in 3rd class and Shashi Tharoor tweeting on cattle class got much more coverage.

When Chandrayaan-I was launched on October 22, 2008 from Sriharikota’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre there were some who even protested that why India is sending a mission to the moon and wasting money, after all, what purpose can be solved by sending probes and people to the moon? Today’s media hubbub may be because of the NASA conference together with scientists from ISRO where they declared that Chandrayaan-I, along with Deep Impact and Cassini probes, have given evidence of the lunar soil containing traces of water.

Why is Chandrayaan-I finding water on the moon a big discovery?

No doubt it is a proud moment for India and re-establishes its scientific prowess. The brilliant Indian scientists who willingly choose to work in India don’t have enough resources to do their work. Hopefully more attention will be paid to them. India is now definitely on the world map of space science.

Why presence on the moon is important?

Space science is not just about releasing satellites into the orbits, sending deep space probes to find new planets and hopefully life or collecting lunar soil and rocks. Lots of scientific discoveries and inventions take place while scientists are working on space shuttles because of the extreme conditions.

In a few years many countries will be setting up lunar bases to conduct scientific experiments. Highly powerful telescopes will be constructed there so that distant stars, constellations, black holes, comets and planets can be seen more clearly. Countries having easy access to the moon may even set up colonies or generate power there to be beamed back to the earth.

Water on the moon also means there can be life there. This is like jumping the gun, but at least, water being there means that water can be extracted for consumption and irrigation once humans start farming in their lunar enclosures.

Of course the Indian media must acknowledge the contribution of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper – M3 – specifically designed by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to search for water on the lunar surface. This means it’s not an accidental discovery, and scientists were already expecting such a find. To be precise Chandrayaan-I carried 11 scientific instruments built in India, the US, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria.

This is certainly going to be a big boost for Chandrayaan-II, slated for 2012/2013. It will also give it a precise location to land.

Alien invasion or slimy worms?

There is this video on YouTube that shows an obscure blob of slime heaving up and down in a North Carolina sewer. The footage, allegedly, has been shot by inserting a snake camera into the sewer.

Some websites dedicated to extraterrestrial life and UFO have started urging people to brace up for an alien invasion. Of course, scientists and sewage experts say they are nothing but a colony of Tubifex worms. They often get together and form this blob and then display slimy movements when exposed to light and heat.

I wonder why people have such a bad notion of aliens. Why does a life form that can travel across galaxies have to end up in sewers and manifest such a repulsive biological existence? How did they travel? Did they use spaceships or simply hopped across dimensions and time coordinates? If this is the future of an intelligent existence — you gotta be highly evolved, spiritually, biologically and scientifically, to be able to travel and reach other living worlds — then this gives me shudders. Will we all turn into sewage-haunting blobs say, after a million years, if by any chance we don’t kill ourselves and the planet by that time?

Or may be the ability to travel in space is overrated simply because we cannot grasp it. May be it is so simple that even goo can travel through space.

Life in most extreme conditions

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If life can exist in the most extreme conditions on earth, why not on other planets? As this article says:

After 3 billion years of evolution, life has flowed into every last nook and cranny, from the bottom of the sea to the upper edge of the stratosphere. From blazing heat and freezing cold to pure acidity and atomic bomb-caliber radiation, there’s seemingly no stress so great that some bug can’t handle it.

It certainly can, and I wonder why some scientists reject the possibility outright.

An ancient life form resurrected after 120000 years

This can be a plot for the next horror flick. After lying dormant under 2 miles of ice in Greenland, for nearly 1,20,000 years, by gradually increasing its body temperature, scientists have reawakened a bug in their laboratory, and it took them 11 months to do so. What if it is a dangerous bug and it was buried so deep by some ancient civilization to keep future generations safe? What if now they cannot control it in the lab and it starts spreading and then eventually colonizes the planet, annihilating other life forms?

After this experiment scientists think many other life forms that remain buried can be brought back to life, even on Mars.