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Time in a bottle

Posted on Wed May 27th, 2015 @ 9:04am by Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Moving in
Location: Science Lab 4

The sound of the door to the Science Lab swooshing open caught Jrez mid-sentance.

“Ah,” he said, “Lieutenant Hume. Please join us. Serge and I have been debating temporal mechanics and the possibility of time travel. I would appreciate your input.”

Inwardly Hume steeled herself. This news was not welcome, she had hoped that the Chief Science Officer would have gotten off the topic of time travel, that it was a passing interest and that something more useful would have captured his mind. Sadly it did not seem to be the case. She replied with a calm and measured, "I see."

“I postulated that, in accordance with Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’, especially as developed in Schlezholt’s ‘Theory of Multiple Big Bangs’ and ‘Wang’s Second Postulate’, there is an infinite number of universes out there, each with its own timeline. Further, if Einstein is correct, time fractures at any given instant so that all possible outcomes of any possible action are played out in a universe somewhere:
I drop the ball with consequences in my timeline. I catch the ball with consequences that are played out a different timeline in a different universe."

"Schrodinger Cat," Serge intejected.

"So it’s not so much a matter of traveling through time as traveling between universes. We already know they exist because there are numerous records (many apocryphal, I'll grant you, but they do exist) of the alternate universe.
It also means that there is no ‘true’ timeline. All are equally valid to those who exist within them."

Serge took up the story, "If this is true, it would resolve Novikov's Continuity principle with the observed instances previously documented as altering time lines, and match the early assertions of the Vulcan science directorate."

"Put as simply as I can, when a ship observes a phenomena where it is suddenly in surroundings which seem to match an earlier epoch in our own history, they have in fact been deposited into another universe which has developed at another rate. This universe fractals like all others."

"To try and give it a practical demonstration. I flip a coin and it lands heads. I then partake in an experience where I find myself in a location that seems to be the moment just before the coin toss. According to Novikov the probability of the coin landing tails, or even me doing anything that would prevent the coin toss, would be 0.00%. The Probability wave is already collapsed."

"However, my presence is already having an altering affect, and we have documented logs of Starfleet crew who believe they have altered a time line. How could the coin ever land tails?"

"Only if it is not the same coin, and not the same coin toss. Now I am in a universe where the coin toss has landed tails I cannot progress along this time line to a reality where the flip was Heads. I cannot return home. UNLESS, I swap universes again to a point before the coin toss, reopening the probability curve, so that it will can again land heads and open the path back to my original start point."

"If this is true it makes Starfleet Temporal Directive obsolete and would suggest the people who have reported time travel may actually not be from this universe."

Hume looked for a heavy object. She was pretty sure that she could plead temporary insanity if she bludgeoned the two to death and shoved their bodies out an airlock. Or maybe she would get a medal for defending the fabric of reality. Knowing that her objections would not deter them she said simply, "We don't get to theorize the laws we don't like out of existence."

Of course, that did nothing. They continued as if she wasn't there.

Jrez actually had heard Hume’s comment but chose to ignore it. Where was the fun in it? Surely the point of theorizing is to try to understand things, he reasoned. If that means theorizing what you didn’t like out of existence, then so be it.

"The hard thing is... how do we test it?" Serge asked.

“The only thing I can suggest,” Jrez offered, “is if we could replicate the events which lead to a cross between universes. I do not think Starfleet would be too happy if we tried to do that.”

"I agree, we probably should just keep this as a mental game," Hume said, "and never test it."

Serge seemed put out by this... He was about to protest further when Jrez cut in.

“There is also the problem of ensuring not that you crossed to another universe but that you crossed to the one you wanted. It would be even more critical for coming back again. I am no mathematician but I imagine the mathematics involved would be rather complex.”

"Da," Serge agreed, still with the fire in his eyes, "But a test probe is all we need. We plot the calculations using the Dark Sun model used successfully four times by Ambassador Spock. All we need to do is pick a point and check historical records. If the object is not recorded, we know that it crossed universes, not back into our own time stream."

“If the story of Smiley O’Brien and DS9 is to be believed,” Jrez commented, “it must be possible. Somehow he managed to cross to the universe he wanted. And every time someone from our universe crossed to the alternate one, it was always the same one. Strangely too, it was always to a similar point in the timeline there as to that in our own.”

"No, no, stop. Please stop," Hume said, finally getting frustrated. "Look, I don't want to be a stick in the mud, but what you're talking about is dangerous even if it works. We barely have the means to properly run one timeline or one universe without adding to that. You'll start a temporal arms race, and it's a genie you can never put back in the bottle. You don't want to be Oppenheimer. I mean, I hope you don't. The thing with time travel is, right now it's a crap shoot. Nobody tries slingshoting themselves around the sun because it's so blinkedly impossible that it's a one in a million chance. If you actually figured out how to do it safely on a repeatable basis then we'd have temporal incursions all over the place. How long before Starfleet figures that the best way to deal with the Romulans is to send a few Galaxy class ships back a hundred years to settle things? How long before the Romulans find out and get paranoid that that's what we'd do and so they start their own program?"

Hume shook her head. "You can think that this is just a fun thought experiment and that it's just for fun and boy wouldn't it be nice to go and kiss Marilyn Monroe or hangout with your great grandfather, but it's so dangerous. Even if you figured everything else out you'd have about a thousand different paradox theories to account for before you did anything just to make sure you don't end all of existence."

She continued, "And universes, what if we find something that's worse than this? I mean this is pretty good. What if we find a universe where the Borg won and by opening the door just that once you let them in? An advanced Borg that includes the Federation and a Borgified you who can reverse engineer their way into your world?"

The pair were silent, chastised for the moment.

“We already know of a universe worse than this,” Jrez reminded her. “The one we know of sounds like a hell-hole for most of its inhabitants. But what if we found a better one; one where the Borg have been defeated or where assimilation wasn’t permanent? What if you could sign up for a ten year stint as a drone like you sign up for a ten year stint in Starfleet?

"Actually," Serge said with a frown. "We have anecdotal evidence from the USS Enterprise D that such a universe does exist and it has reached our universe at least once. If there is a threat of Borg incursion across dimensions are we not bound to discover it? At least to disprove that it could happen? I have not desire to kiss my grandfather... or whatever it was you said, but if what we suspect is true, then disrupting this timeline is impossible."

He looked at Hume, "If we are right and we can prove time travel is cross universe travel then we can feel secure about our time line and no matter how many probes we send we cannot disrupt it. And if we manage to send a single probe back in time, designed to be noticeable but with 0 impact (Novikov 1990), we will prove the universe safe from the Borg, as well as ensuring temporal theory as a field of itself."

“I disagree,” Jrez said.“ If we can cross to another universe, they can cross to us. I agree it is only anecdotal evidence but didn’t Smiley O’Brien do just that? Didn’t the Borg do it when they tried to stop Zephram Cochrane’s first flight? I think we owe it to ourselves to explore the theory before the practicality is sprung on us and we find we don’t like it.”

"Well," Serge deflated a bit, "Can we agree that it is an interesting concept, and that there is no harm done in simply working out the mathematics and logistics of a test plan, as a purely theoretical exercise?"

 

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