Thursday, February 28, 2008

Looking for my constant

Wherein more mindless Lost speculation

This week's Lost theory: I'm still working on it.

...Until then, here's a letter from Richard P Feynman to David Paterson, February 11, 1976:
Dear David:

I was glad to hear from you. I looked at your enclosure "Traveling in Time," but didn't read beyond the second sentence because I, also, believe that time travel cannot be done, and I thought my colleagues agreed with me. The science fiction writers who have interpreted my view of the positron as an electron going backward in time have not realized that that theory is completely consistent with causality principles, and in no way implies that we can travel backward in time.

Richard P. Feynman

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track: The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman

Julian Jaynes, from The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind:
...But, actually, you could, as you remain where you are, just as well locate your consciousness around the corner in the next oom against the wall near the floor, and do your thinking there as well as in your head. Not really just as well. For there are very good reasons why it is better to imagine your mind-space inside of you, reasons to do with volition and internal sensations, with the relationship of your body and your 'I' which will become apparent as we go on.

...Let me summarize as a way of 'seeing' where we are and the direction in which our discussion is going. We have said that consciousness is an operation rather than a thing, a repository, or a function. It operates by way of analogy, by way of constructing an analog space with an analog 'I' that can observe that space, and move metaphorically in it. It operates on any reactivity, excerpts relevant aspects, narratizes and conciliates them together in a metaphorical space where such meanings can be manipulated like things in space. Conscious mind is a spatial analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts. Consciousness operates only on objectively observable things. Or, to say it another way with echoes of John Locke, there is nothing in consciousness that is not an analog of something that was in behavior first.

Looking for a couple of time travel stories I remember from Omni magazine, I found Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, by Paul J. Nahin:
It is a strict interpretation of Hume that Sorensen adopts in claiming that a time traveler would have no success (among rational persons, anyway) with tall tales of "different places." As Sorensen explains, "Clearly the time traveler cannot persuade a reasonable person by baldly asserting 'I am a time traveler.' The improbability of his claim places a heavy burden of proof on him. But perhaps he could shoulder the burden by means of artifacts, predictions, and demonstrations." Sorensen dismisses all of these possibilities, however, by reminding us of the slightly sleazy history of parapsychology and ESP. which run counter to known scientific laws, but which have still duped "many a respected scientist." Any artifact, prediction, or demonstration of time travel, argues Sorensen, is more likely to be the result of deception and fraud than of actual time travel.

Mr. Nahin mentions one of the stories I was looking for:
In my own 1979 story "Newton's Gift" it is the visit of a time traveler from the future that causes Newton's descent from first-rate physics to third-rate theology, a tragic misapplication of talent about which the time traveler knew but did not know the cause.

I'm also looking for Rent Control by Walter Tevis. In this story a couple finds that time stands still for them when they're in bed together. They get carried away with the concept and die.

One I can't locate a title or author for concerns a student watching a time capsule before it is buried the next day. A stranger approaches with a proposition to place a note inside to test the existence of time travelers. His theory is that if there were time travelers and they some how got stuck in the past, the best to get a message to the future would be to place it in the time capsule. It's possible I have all three of these stories in a couple of old Omni magazine collections. Being as how they're in the infamous boxes in the basement, there is no guarantee they'll be soon located. Just searched the local library system for the Nahin book and all they have is Duelling idiots and other probability puzzlers.


Blogger XWL said...

Desmond would be a good character to follow without the headache of time travelling paradoxes.

(damn causality loops!!!)

By having consciousness only, and not physical bodies slipping back and forth, you avoid a lot of the possible problems, but you still end up with plenty of silliness.

And, thank you for your post.

(teh internets, the politest non-place in the universe?)

2/29/2008 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Easy there, no one likes a suckup.

2/29/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger XWL said...

Woohoo! I devised a comment for which you didn't thank me.

I am teh smart. I am teh smart.

2/29/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...


2/29/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger justkim said...

It occured to me the other day that the Xanadu reference in last week's episode could have been there because the song "Suspended in Time" is maybe a clue. I'm not sure that the mystery of the island is time travel per se (except for poor Desmond), but there seems to be some sort of time slippage with time on the island moving more slowly than it does on the rest of the planet.

Icepick thinks that Hugo just digs cheesy 80s movies and/or Olivia Newton-John.

3/01/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

I thank you for your speculation. And add who doesn't like cheesy 80s version of Olivia Newton-John.

3/03/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rent Control is located in Walter Tevis's 1981 compilation, Far From Home - originall in Oct. 1979's edition of Omni Magazine.

1/01/2009 03:29:00 PM  

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