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.

0 thoughts on “The grandfather paradox and time travel

  1. Nilesh

    nice imagination and thoughts. but i believe we can just imagine all these and this will never be possible.

  2. Amrit Post author

    Hello Nilesh

    “Never” is a tricky expression. The things that are so normal today were “never” once upon a time 😉