Absolute proof of time travel: A creative writing exercise...

Apr 11, 2015
I've browsed through so many debates on proving/debunking time travel at this point, both here and elsewhere, that the point of them has become rather silly. I am a stern advocate for humanity needing a clearer idea of what TT entails before even starting to discuss possible ways to prove it to be real. When someone says "how would you prove it if you were a time traveller?" or "how can you prove that John Titor was real/fake?", I just sort it in the "if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" pile. The answers are meaningless, because the questions are meaningless.

So I would like to set up a bit of a creative writing exercise. It's the old "how would you prove that you're a time traveller?" question, but with a bit more depth, so as to study (or at least think about) the complexities of time travel.

The challenge: Pretend that you are, in fact, born into a society with the ability to time travel, and that you travel to our time. Give as detailed a description of the following things as you can:

1: Who are you, in your own society? Your background, your overall life experiences, your social circles, your daily doings, etc. Without even thinking about time travel, give a clear idea of who you are/were/will be in your society, just as a person.

2: What is your connection to your society's work with time travel? Are you a trained specialist, a dabbler, a private contractor, an innovator, a refugee, a clumsy person who pressed the wrong button, or something entirely else?

3: Why does your society time travel? This would include some rough ideas about who runs both society and the TT stuff, including matters of access, license, control, social norms, ideologies and more. TT might be as cold and calculated a thing as air traffic, or it could be a wild west of clever crazies running around with TT devices.

4: How does the time travel machine work? This includes whether there are multiple forms of time travel, of course! It is both a question of how the physics of TT work, with issues like paradoxes and split timelines, and a matter of the practical use of the technology, like do you get shot naked into the past, Terminator-style, or do you point and click on a screen and just slip in there, or do you perhaps even go only with your mind/spirit, as in Quantum Leap? And since this is a writing exercise, there is no "I don't know how it works". You, the person writing, must give an explanation. But see #5...

5: At the point of departure, what did you, the time traveller, bring? This includes knowledge, or access to it. Devices that let you call back to your own time ("time phones") are important, as are other time travel devices, but things like futuristic tools or reference books (physical, digital or other) are also important. If you brought your time machine with you, needless to say, it is of interest.

6:Why did you, the time traveller, decide to go here/now? This is both the personal interests and the "mission", if any, AND why the mission is important to you. The risks and sacrifices involved in time travel (will you return? Does it hurt?) figure prominently in this.

7: The big one: Considering all the above, how would you expect to convince someone in our time that you are, in fact, a time traveller? This includes WHY you would try to convince someone, and who that someone might or might not be.

The point of all this is that with the laughably limited amount of knowledge we have about TT, most questions asked are far too broad to make any real sense. Most who try to hoax us by claiming to be a time traveller are mainly trying to avoid hard questions, but in a writing exercise, the hard questions are turned on the person asking. And because the focus is not on a single person trying to convince someone, we can look at the questions from a multitude of angles, poking at the topic far more than if just one bored soul is trying to make up something on the spot.

Of course, I understand if people are overwhelmed by the need to suddenly take the place of the time travellers. It's always easier to be a dozen people hacking away at one person, than to actually take on the role of that person. Remember, others can still point out holes in your arguments ;) :ninja: :roflmao:

And yes, I'll add my own, my fingers are just numbing up right now...
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Apr 11, 2015
\ said:
This I like! I need to find time to sit down and think about it ...
Yes, it is a doosey :eek:

Anyway, I'll give it a try. Remember, this is a creative challenge, so if your first, second, third, etc. is not your best, you can just do another :geek:

#1: Hello, my name is Bryon Pumling, and I come from the year 3201. I am/was/will be a field physicist, studying unusual physics events close up. Mostly, I deal with unexpected solar activities or electrical storms (in space or planetside), but the last decade or so, I have been part of TEI, the Time Evaluation Initiative. As such, I have little to no family (they prefer those kinds of recruits), and have dedicated myself very much to my job/studies. Although not actually military, I act as an advisor to the military on projects related to abnormal physics. In comparison to your time, I would say that I am 45% physicist (specializing in astrophysics and quantum mechanics), 45% engineer, and 10% philosophical consultant (scientific, not ethical). The last decade and a half I have lived on five different military bases/installations.

#2: For about a decade, I have studied the effects of time travel on the local time, i.e. how sending someone through time affects the time and place that the person gets sent from. Time travel is still a very new invention (about 20 years ago, we sent the first grain of sand 1 second into the past), so there are a lot of possibilities for errors. I am here to evaluate what "error" might mean, and how to deal with it, up to and including advising the project to shut down entirely. I have no command, only the eyes and ears of local planning staff. Mostly, I set up measuring gear around the world and talk to the few that get sent out via TT, and make long, often mathematical, theories and predictions about the consequences of what the Big Boys do with our TT machinery.

#3: The TEI is fairly hush-hush, even for military projects. We donøt ask The Big Questions much, lest someone thinks us spies or saboteurs or something like that. However, the main theory is that the discovery of time travel was considered science fiction... until it actually happened. Then, panic started at what others might do with the technology, both now, in our past, and in the future. So the TEI seems to be a first-step military operation to protect our time and society against sabotage by TT. Because we are in the early stages of understanding TT, we are still trying to identify the dangers and what others might use it for against us. Some of that is my job. Our society is a lot more rigid than yours, too, although democratic elements are still at the core. Government is militaristic, leaving functional territories to govern themselves, while intervening elsewhere with force. Territories split into smaller in levels, each level being less authoritarian, meaning that functional territories are very free, while iron fists are common in less functional ones.

#4: I'll spare you the math (oh god, the math...). In essence, time travel is based on the universe being held together along the T axis (time, as opposed to X, Y and Z dimensional axes) by a fifth fundamental force (the four you know being gravity, electromagentism, and strong and weak nuclear force). We have no formal name for it, but my field typically calls it chronicy. And just like you can overcome the other forces with enough energy (push against gravity or magnets, for example, or split atoms), you can overcome chronicy, too. You adjust some gravity tunnels to align yourself on a trajectory, pump in a buttload of energy (we got permission to enclose a small star to tap for power), and off you go. In practice, it's harder, mainly because that much energy rips most things apart, so anyone going out is encapsulated in a blob of absorbant material (compounds mostly consisting of Stabilium, atomic number 195, the first near-stable artificial element to be created), which is designed to detonate in the energy burst, protecting the travelelr inside it. For logical reasons, we do this in deep space, or we'd blow holes in anything nearby! We have succeeded in building some arrival stations, the one started in 1994 orbiting Neptune in a wide orbit.

#5: I brought very little with me. In fact, I didn't even bring my body, instead being encased in a cerebral fluid and given a vatgrown body upon arrival back in January. Took some getting used to, it's a bit more muscular than my body back home! My gear is entirely produced at the arrival station (called the Boxxy, apparently it's a cultural figure of your time?), and includes mostly a lot of scientific measuring devices, all packed into a small dvices and designed to look like an ordinary cellphone. That lets me do readings in public without raising eyebrows. Mostly. I do maintain a connection to the Boxxy through it, too, but it's not very stable due to the solar activity of your time. They have a lot of other stuff, including some archeological data on your period, although I'd love it if they had something more precise. It's a millenium+ gap, so there is a lot of stuff missing. Don't expect celebrity gossip of the future to be within my reach, is what I'm saying. Oh, and my body has some hefty genetic upgrades, almost all of them meant to keep me alive, i.e. boosted immunities, certain antisanguinary measures, etc. Most of what I need, I build from scratch. Travel to and from the Boxxy is by stealth spacer, which they operate and dro me off or pick me up, but I only get that trip every few months.

#6: I'm a loyalist, and a geek. I believe in the importance of protecting my home.... but I just love time travel, to be honest! It's some of the biggest challenges you can get, all wrapped into one neat package! My mission is to take a huge amount of readings over the course of several years, which will then be sent back to my time. I will also be going back, sometime around 2020, unless I get an extended stay. I really have no family of note back home, so I'm hoping to get an indefinite stay. Nobody told me outright, but I think the only reason to get most travellers back home is to keep them from getting too attached to their destination, up to and including changing time too much by relaying critical information or taking advantage of technological preknowledge. I heard one guy tried to bump a small island ("bumping" means splitting it out to its own unique timeline, without chance of access by others), but he got caught and... well, let's just say the people in charge have ways of dealing with that. Ick.

#7: The proof is in the flashy gadgets, mostly. I am going public to look for new recruits for escalating the readings to large monitoring stations, and I need people who can handle the complexity of the work, both mentally and physically. You'll be using VERY advanced gear, based on sciences you do not even have yet, in areas of deadly climates and immense solitude, or even in downtown L.A. (special protective gear is issued). To handle this, you'll be issued a lot of stuff to keep you alive. I have a long list of names that are acceptable recruits, because their deaths will not affect the timeline all that much, and because they have been estimated to be capable (by other agents of the Boxxy). My usual way to convince someone that I'm from the future is a bit brutal, but it works: Cut off a finger of theirs, then stick their hand in my portable regrowth tank to grow them a new one in seconds. Anyone who remains skeptical but is of sufficient value might get a quick round trip to the Boxxy. Otherwise, the gear issued when they are stationed tends to help convince them. Of course, some only need to experience the excitement of the work or the lavish luxury of the time off (typically at the Boxxy, though we have a few secluded bases earthside) to convince them that, time travel or not, it's worth the job.

Any questions are welcome. Potential recruits can message me, and I'll check their names on my list.

[breaking the fourth wall now for comments]

So that is a fictional time traveller. The proof in this case is futuristic gear, but it is already admitted that it was built from scratch, so there is nothing really impossible involved. A big hole I see in that is the argument that it might just be military, corporate or other secret stuff, advanced well beyond our public technologies. That goes for the Boxxy, too; anyone might claim that some government or billionaire group just built it in secret! How advanced would the technology have to be for you to believe it? Would the rapid regrowth of a finger do it? Would a trip to the Boxxy (which might also be faked, remember)? What kind of definite proof would you ask Bryon Pumling for, knowing about him what you know? What other information would you ask about his background in order to figure out how he could prove his story?

Remember that this is a creative exercise, I am not offering anyone actual trips to the Boxxy :alien:


New member
Mar 13, 2016
If or when I do get to travel I am sure that the folks that allowed me to drive that very fast car would never allow me to share that information on this forum? However until I am forced to sign the 10/10 papers to never disclose I am free to share things I do know. My teacher told me back in 1965 that TT was being used by our secret government and I learned just last year where he got that secret info from. It turns out his brother-in-law told him way back in 1965 and then he told me at great risk to his safety. I felt back that I did not tell him back then about my seeing aliens face to face back in the 50s. Now you know why I believe that Time Travel is being used by our leaders. It is easy to keep such a secret because who the hell would believe you?