I was absolutely delighted when the doctor offered to write a guest post about time travel. No, not the Doctor, but fellow author of time travel novels, Doctor Ann Nyland, who also offered two copies of her time travel novel, Hedgeland, as a giveaway (now closed). Here’s Ann…
There are several theories of time travel. Einstein’s theory of relativity predicted wormholes, which are a way to pass from one place to another without traveling through the space. A wormhole is like a shortcut. As an example, let’s say that there was a wormhole between London and New York. This would mean that someone would be able to leave New York, enter the wormhole, and arrive in London a few minutes later. Of course there isn’t a wormhole (as far as we know!) between London and New York, so people have to use the traditional methods of travel.
Scientists do now know that wormholes do exist, and that time travel via one of these worm holes is indeed possible, but these wormholes are minute, so tiny that even a flea would not be able to go through. The famous scientist Stephen Hawking has said that if a wormhole is between two points of time rather than two points of space, then time travel is possible. Hawking says time travel is indeed possible, but only time travel to the future.
It has been known for some time that time travels faster in space than it does down on earth. It is also scientifically accepted that traveling near the speed of light will cause someone to time travel to the future. Of course, we haven’t traveled anywhere near as fast as the speed of light yet. If you traveled around the earth at the speed of light, you would go around the earth seven times in one second.
Time travel does present us with paradoxes. The most well-known paradox is the grandmother paradox. Imagine if you went back to the past and killed your own grandmother when she was a baby. Then, in theory, you would never have been born, so how did you go back and kill your own grandmother? There are three theoretical ways around this.
The first theory is that the past is predestined and defined, that backward time travel is only possible if everything the time travel does in the past is already fixed and part of history. The past is an unchangeable constant. You, the time traveler, will not be able to kill your grandmother as circumstances will prevent you, no matter how you try. In the Doctor Who episode The Waters of Mars, the Doctor realizes that Captain Adelaide Brooke’s death on Mars is a “fixed point in time” and so he must not intervene, but then changes his mind and takes her to Earth. Captain Brooke immediately commits suicide on Earth, which suggests that her death was predestined and defined. The second theory is that when you, the time traveler, kill your grandmother, you immediately create a parallel world.
Another example of someone dying to get time back onto its path was the episode Father’s Day. Rose Tyler saved her father, Pete, from being hit by a car and dying in 1987, and this set a series of dire events in motion. Pete decided to die to rectify the situation.
The third theory is the Möbius strip. A Möbius strip is a surface with only one side. To make a practical example, take a paper strip and twist it, then join the ends of the strip together to form a loop. In other words, start making a loop out of a strip of paper but twist the ends before you join them. Applying this to the grandmother theory – you can time travel to the past and kill your grandmother, but you can still be born and currently be alive, because you and your grandmother are stuck in a loop with no beginning or end; that is why it is possible.
In the Ontological Paradox (also called the Bootstrap Paradox) an item becomes or creates its past self. For example, someone from the future sends back instructions on how to build a time machine to their past self, who then builds the time machine, and when they arrive in the future, they have the instructions which their future selves send back.
The Ontological Paradox appears several times in the Dr Who 2007 episode “The Shakespeare Code.” To Shakespeare himself, the Doctor quotes lines from Shakespearean plays that Shakespeare has not yet written. Shakespeare likes the lines and says he will use them in a future work.
In one of my all-time fave Dr Who episodes, the 2007 “Blink,” the Doctor records a message on film in 1969 in the form of half a conversation. The other half is filled in when Sally Sparrow sees the DVD of the message 38 years later in 2007. Her friend Lawrence Nightingale writes down the whole conversation. A year later, Sally Sparrow sees the Doctor, who does not of course recognize her, and hands him the transcript, which he later uses when the Weeping Angels send him back to 1969.
In another example of the Ontological Paradox, in the 2010 episode “The Big Bang,” the Doctor goes to the past to give Rory his Sonic Screwdriver to enable Rory to free the imprisoned Doctor and return to the past. In “The Curse of Fenric,” when the Doctor’s companion Ace visited 1943 with him, she ensured the possibility of her own birth by saving her own mother from her grandmother.
A Möbius strip, also called a time loop, is recurring theme in Dr Who. In “Carnival of Monsters,” the occupants of the ship SS Bernice are caught in a time loop when the Doctor happens upon them. However, in most instances, the Doctor uses time to trap enemies.
In the episode “Image of the Fendahl,” the Time Lords sealed the Fifth Planet in a Time Loop. In “The Invasion of Time,” K9 tracks down their home planet of the Vardans who are attacking Gallifrey. The Doctor beams the Vardans back to their home planet and then traps it in a time loop.
In “The Armageddon Factor,” the Doctor, with the help of Romana and K-9, disables the computer Mentalis and gives the Key of Time enough power to create a time loop in which to trap the Marshal’s ship as well as the Mentalis control room which is in an automatic self-destruct sequence.
In “The Claws of Axos,” the Axons land on Earth, looking to use the energy of every life form on earth for their much-needed fuel. When they meet the Doctor, they decide to travel through time and space to feed on energy. The Doctor tricks Axos into linking its drive unit to the Tardis and sends Axos into a time loop.
In “Meglos,” the Doctor was the victim of a time loop. When the Doctor, Romana and K-9 try to land the Tardis on Tigella, Meglos traps them in a time loop.
Dr. Ann Nyland has written several novels and non-fiction books. Her time travel novel is called Hedgeland and is available in paperback and Kindle editions in the US and UK , as well as iTunes, Barnes & Noble , Kobo and elsewhere. Read more about Ann and her book on her blog here.
You can be sure that anyone writing such an excellent post is also capable of writing an excellent time travel novel. Find out for yourself in Ann’s giveaway. If you want to be in with a chance of winning a digital edition of Ann’s book, simply leave a comment on this post. Giveaway has now closed. The winners were Maria Staal and Michael Drakich who wil be emailed an eBook edition of Hedgeland in their choice of either Kindle, ePub, PDB or PDF format. Congratualations!