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ADDB/TUM, Time Travel, and Fate v. Free Will


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#21 DWF

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 09:55 PM

Cardie, on Jan. 30 2003,04:49, said:

DWF, on Jan. 29 2003,21:37, said:

^^^A casual loop? ???  :D And Rhade was so formal. :)
That's causal, DWF--and here you had me thinking I'd transposed the letters with my usual expert typing skills.

Cardie  :p
LOL!!! Actually I think the word is causality, but it made you look.
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#22 enTranced

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 10:41 PM

I agree with DWF.

TUM was about alternate universes not time travel.

If it was time travel Rhade would have always had a scar on his hand. Instead a alternate Rhade killed OUR Rhade and took his place.

This is why ADDB is still the better episode. ;)

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#23 Cardie

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 11:08 PM

enTranced, on Jan. 29 2003,22:41, said:

I agree with DWF.
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#24 DWF

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 11:19 PM

Cardie, on Jan. 30 2003,06:08, said:

enTranced, on Jan. 29 2003,22:41, said:

I agree with DWF.
Cardie looks around furtively. Sees no pigs flying. Reports from hell confirm it is still toasty. OK, maybe just this once.
:eek:  :suspect:  :but:  :D
LOL!!!!  :D  :D Yeah, it's rare but sometimes it does happen, it's been a loooooong time though.
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#25 Bad Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 01:41 AM

Sorry guys but I'm not convinced (though I'm duly shocked at the sight of eT, DWF AND Cardie all AGREEING about something Drom related... :eek: )

The fact (in my mind) remains that an alternate Rhade has zero insentive to save any time line but his own.

Who cares what happens in an alternate universe.

Sorry guys but I don't buy the great self sacrifice unless it's to save his OWN universe.

I'm willing to be convinced otherwise but um, no one's done it yet.

:)

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#26 Kevin Street

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 02:48 AM

Ooookay, I'll give it a shot. :wideeyed:

First, I'd like to say that Cardie's interpretation is close to mine, but we differ in a significant respect. Like DWF and enTranced, I think it's all multiple parallel universes. The universe where Rhade was captain still exists, and will continue to exist, even though he's not in it. (Whether that universe's Gold Trance went back there or not is anyone's guess, though.)

There's no splitting timelines, or two universes diverging from one parent. Each universe is like a railroad track, running straight from the big bang to the end of time. Sometimes you can go from one point on the track to another (like in ADDB), and sometimes you can jump off of one track and land in a different one entirely (this is what Gold Trance does in Ouroboros, and it's what her alternate universe equivalent helps Rhade do in TUM.), but you can't change the tracks, or universes, once they have been "laid."

If it was possible to go back in time and create a new timeline by changing the past, Dylan would have had no trouble in ADDB. He could have helped the High Guard win the Battle of Witchhead, and then lived on in an alternate timeline where the Commonwealth never fell.

Cardie's speculation about the ultimate purpose of the Spirit of the Abyss is still possible (and scary), since we don't know what sort of a creature he/she/it/they may be. Perhaps the SofA trancends the universes, or maybe there's multiple versions of the thing all working in tandem towards the same goal.

The Gold Trance we know now is a different being than the Purple Trance who started the show. This Trance is from an alternate universe somewhat further along in time, who already failed to make her universe "the best possible future." She jumped tracks and switched places with Purple Trance to give "our" universe the benefit of her experience. "Our" Purple Trance sacrificed herself if you will, leaving the Dylanverse behind for some other reality. Imo, this is what Gold Trance meant by "we aren't going to win." Neither person can succeed in their native universes, but if they work together they might succeed in molding at least one universe into the best possible future. It's triage on a cosmic scale. They can't save them all, but one universe might give them a partial "victory" in their game.

Captain Rhade's motivation was simple. His efforts to repair the damage done by his treachery had failed. It was obvious to him that he could never succeed in his own universe. But Gold Trance showed him another reality where people just like the ones he knew were making the same mistakes. He sacrificed himself so they wouldn't go down his road. Sure, he wasn't saving "his" Dylan or "his" Commonwealth, but he was saving a Dylan and a Commonwealth, and that was enough. It was the closest he could come to undoing the past.

Per aspera ad astra

#27 Bad Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 02:54 AM

So he commits suicide to give Dylan a chance in a different reality?

No way do I buy that.

I can live with Rhade seeing the big picture and forfeiting his life to save his *own* reality.  But I cannot buy a Nietzschean doing something like that unless there's something in it for him.  And remember, Trance told him that this was his chance to shape the universe to his will.

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#28 Kevin Street

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 03:30 AM

Rhade wasn't committing suicide. All he did in "our" reality was give Dylan a sporting chance. The fight was still to the death, and if Dylan had proved to be inferior, Rhade would've killed him.

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I can live with Rhade seeing the big picture and forfeiting his life to save his *own* reality.  But I cannot buy a Nietzschean doing something like that unless there's something in it for him.  And remember, Trance told him that this was his chance to shape the universe to his will.

Yes, that's it exactly - a chance to shape the universe (or universes) to his will. As we saw in TUM, Rhade was a classic Nietzschian. That is, he was a true follower of Nietzsche's philosophies in their original form. And the philosophy he was following here was "the will to power."

Here's a quote from Nietzsche on the will to power:

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My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (-- its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on--

Rhade was trying to impose his will on the universe by fixing his mistakes, but he was thwarted in this for various reasons. Gold Trance offered him a way to impose his will on another universe, and Rhade took it, because in the end it didn't matter which universe he was molding - the important point was that he was controlling events - events were not controlling him. He conspired with Gold Trance to create an arrangement where his will to power was greater than the constraints that were trying to hold him back. And to him this principle was worth more than life itself.

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#29 Bad Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 03:37 AM

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Gold Trance offered him a way to impose his will on another universe

*shakes head emphatically*

Point me to where in the ep she says this.  She doesn't mention *another* universe, she says *the* universe, which says to me that it's *the same* universe.

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#30 Kevin Street

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 03:54 AM

Well, in the end it's a question of interpretation. Imo, Trance was using the word "universe" in its broadest sense - the all, or everything there is. But if you choose to disagree there's nothing I can say that might convince you, since the question of what a character really meant is a hazy one with no definite answers.

I do think, though, that the evidence is in favour of parallel universes. But ultimately, our interpretations could both be right or wrong, or something in between. At least it was fun discussing this.  :)

TUM certainly does have a lot of depth to it!

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#31 Christopher

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 04:31 AM

Umm, I'd like to ask Cardie or Rhys to move this thread to the Science & Tech forum.  It's just the kind of discussion for that forum, and I get so little activity there. :pout:

Okay, let's bring physics into this, because Robert, Zack & Ash have stayed more consistent with actual time-travel physics than any other SFTV/film writers ever.

No, I take that back, it's not so much physics as simple logic.  I say this over and over again:  An event that has happened cannot "un-happen."  Period.  You can't erase a moment of time, because erasure is change.  Change requires a "before" and an "after" -- the version of the thing that existed before the change and the version that exists after the change.  A single moment in time cannot exist before itself!  So the concept of "erasing the past" or "changing the past" is simply meaningless.  By definition, if there are two versions of a single moment, they both exist at the same time.  Neither one "replaces" the other; they exist side-by-side in parallel timelines.

Most time-travel stories assume that the time-traveller's perspective is reality -- that the "new" history created by the traveller "replaces" the "old" one.  But to the objective observer the two histories run simultaneously.  The perspective that one history comes "first" and the other "second" is only the time-traveller's personal, subjective point of view, arising from the order in which s/he visits the timelines.  It makes no sense to assume the time-traveller's perspective overrides the rest of reality.  Maybe it's more interesting from a dramatic viewpoint, but it's logically nonsensical.

It's also mathematically impossible (which is kind of the same thing).  To put it in physics terms, an equation must have a unique solution.  It can't add up to two different values at once.  So there are only two options, the two which Rommie and Sara spelled out in ADDB & BotL: either an event only happens one way, or it happens a different way in each of two separate timelines which subsequently do not affect each other's development.

GRA's writers managed to use both theories.  The rules are: under normal circumstances, there is only one timeline.  But Harper's device created a unique set of initial conditions which allowed the equations to have two separate solutions, thus allowing two separate histories to branch off.  (Does this mean the laws of physics changed?  No, merely the conditions under which they operated.  Plug different variables into the equations and you get different results.  It's just that certain combinations of variables almost never occur.)  In quantum terms, it allowed the wavefunction of the universe (see BotL -- a real concept from Stephen Hawking's theories) to enter a stable superposition (two sets of properties at once, like a radioactive atom that's both decayed and undecayed).

The physics is quite clear here from what we've been told onscreen.  There is no single history being "rewritten," and no separate-from-the-start parallel histories that cross over.  There is one timeline which forks into two (or probably a few more) at a particular node in history, one triggered by the effects of the Alice string-tesseract device (effects which reach back and forward through time around the date of its construction).  The Rhade who survived in one timeline ultimately travelled back to the "fork" and took the action which enabled the other timeline to exist.

Okay, that's enough of that for 4 AM... let's move on to the question of free will.  Does predestination in time travel mean that free will doesn't exist in the universe?  Of course not.  Or rather, it proves that we have more free will in some circumstances than we do in others.  Our actions are always constrained by what the circumstances make possible.  You have free will to move in any direction you choose -- until you step off a cliff.  Then your movement options become very, very constrained.

We have free will to act within the laws of physics and logic.  Making an event "un-happen" is physically and logically meaningless, so the will to do it is irrelevant -- it just can't be done.  Making it happen in two different, simultaneous ways is (by GRA-universe physics) possible in a unique set of initial conditions.

So on to the philosophical question: why should Rhade care about making things better in another timeline if it won't undo what happened in his own?  This is something that I guess each individual has to decide.  You can do it out of simple altruism, the desire to make things go better in someone's reality if not yours.  Or you can convince yourself that the alternate you is still you in some way, and that the alternate versions of the people you care about are still them and deserve your protection just as much.  Or you can say, "if it doesn't make things any better for my versions of my loved ones, what's the point?" -- in which case you probably won't make the time journey anyway.  Does it matter?  Does it matter that you save one version of JFK when another one still dies?  That's up to the individual to decide.

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#32 Cardie

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 08:45 AM

To make Christopher happy, I'm moving this to Science and Technology. I hope you don't mind, Lil.

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#33 Uncle Sid

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 09:51 AM

Christopher, on Jan. 30 2003,04:31, said:

Does it matter?  Does it matter that you save one version of JFK when another one still dies?  That's up to the individual to decide.

Of course, the episode never says this, but if Rhade does solve the equation for the Dylan survival solution and the timelines collapse, then yes, he does do something.  He ensures that the expressed timeline is the one that he is responsible for creating.  

If we look at it this way, when Rhade heads to the Dylan timeline, the machine is still operating in his timeline in the Andromeda.  If Rhade leaves the Andromeda in his reality without destroying it, the machine continues to operate, possibly destroying that entire timeline.  

The machine itself forces one solution on the timelines, just like it created the situation to begin with.  If Rhade destroys the machine in his timeline, his timeline continues, but if he leaves, it picks apart the loser timeline.  Since Rhade made the choice, he has truly shaped the Universe to his will since he ended what is actually the main timeline and pushed it into an alternate direction that could not have happened without his involvement.  

How do we know this is true?  We don't, but if Rhade jumps back into his own timeline and somehow disables the machine, we know that the Rhade in the alternate Dylan universe wins, just like he did, since there is no reason for that Rhade to lose.  The timelines then resolve themselves to one solution and the twinning of the timelines ends with the deactivation of the machine.  

Okay, so Rhade leaves, so what?  Can't someone else in the Captain Rhade timeline get to the machine and destroy it?  The answer to that is speculation, of course, but chances are that no one except Rhade is capable of making it to the Machine Shop in his reality.  In the Dylan reality, there is more crew, including Tyr, to fight off the bad guys.  Without Tyr, chances are that some Magog are able to go a little farther than they would have and find Harper and either kill him or disable him before he can do anything about it.  Ditto with Beka.  Trance, of course, doesn't assist because she senses the alternate timeline and wants it to occur.  Two big strikes against success for the Captain Rhade timeline.

Okay, smarty pants.   What if Rhade doesn't go to the parallel timeline but just sits around and allows the universe to be ripped apart by the machine.  That could happen, right?

In theory, that might happen, but it won't.  Rhade is Rhade and will always make a decision.  His options are constrained by the "cliff" of his nature.  He's a man of action.  Standing around and letting the universe fall apart is not a possibility for Gaheris Rhade.  Indeed, without Trance, Rhade would probably have destroyed the machine without a second thought.  

There you go.  Of course, none of this explains why Rhade had to kill Dawn and die in the alternate timeline and, more importantly, how he knew it would be necessary to do those things.  I think that might have been better explained.  Rhade certainly could have warned Dylan if he was alive, although Dylan might have not have reacted the same way to warnings from a live Rhade.  Nevertheless, this was a fine episode, especially for a clip show, and the plot holes are not quite as wide as some would imagine (although they still exist).  Definitely a Season One quality episode and one of my favorites.

:)

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#34 Rhea

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:11 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jan. 30 2003,06:41, said:

Sorry guys but I'm not convinced (though I'm duly shocked at the sight of eT, DWF AND Cardie all AGREEING about something Drom related... :eek: )

The fact (in my mind) remains that an alternate Rhade has zero insentive to save any time line but his own.

Who cares what happens in an alternate universe.

Sorry guys but I don't buy the great self sacrifice unless it's to save his OWN universe.

I'm willing to be convinced otherwise but um, no one's done it yet.

:)

Lil
The problem with even having this conversation is that Andromeda started out with a single timeline universe. Ad,DB was consistent with that.

Ouroborous fudged the issue, and TUM fudges it even more.

Have I mentioned that time travel and alternate universes make me dizzy?  :crazy:  :o

Must have coffee...'scuse me while I take a quick stroll to the coffee maker and shake the cobwebs...er..strings out of my brain. :D

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#35 Christopher

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:29 AM

uncle sid, on Jan. 30 2003,09:51, said:

Of course, the episode never says this, but if Rhade does solve the equation for the Dylan survival solution and the timelines collapse, then yes, he does do something.  He ensures that the expressed timeline is the one that he is responsible for creating.

If we look at it this way, when Rhade heads to the Dylan timeline, the machine is still operating in his timeline in the Andromeda.  If Rhade leaves the Andromeda in his reality without destroying it, the machine continues to operate, possibly destroying that entire timeline.
But Sid, I just explained -- you can't destroy a timeline!!!  Destruction is a change.  It requires a before and an after.  Before and after are points within the timeline.  The whole timeline cannot come before or after itself.  "Destroying the timeline" is as nonsensical a statement as "Moving the North Pole farther north."

As I said, if there are two versions of a period in time, then by definition they coexist at the same time.  That is the whole frelling definition of parallel timelines.  One is not "after" the other, one does not "replace" the other, they're simultaneous.  It looks to the time traveller like one replaces the other, but only because the time traveller starts in one and moves into the other.

It's so hard to talk about this subject because we just reflexively assume the existence of the passage of time in our thoughts and words, and we don't know how to deal with situations where that assumption just doesn't apply.  Let me explain:

If we speak of time as a "line," then we are stepping back, outside of time, in order to see its whole "shape" from beginning to end.  From this perspective, past and future become directions on the graph.  Change is merely a shape in the curve.  To you, the observer looking at time from the outside, time does not exist.  It's been transformed into geometry.  You are seeing all of history and alternate history in a single snapshot.  Every process, every change that ever has happened or ever will happen is sitting right there in front of you simultaneously.  So that tableau itself cannot undergo change.  You can't "erase" or "reshape" part of it.  How can you?  Those processes require time to elapse, but you are outside of time -- time is just a geometric axis.

To put it another way, stepping outside of time to discuss it as a line is like looking back on the whole history of the universe from the end -- because you can see it all at once.  It's like watching a tape of a sporting event.  You can't change the way the game is played, it's already done.

========

I'll grant this much:  There might be some way that one of two parallel timelines could end -- the quantum superposition of the cosmic wavefunction could collapse back into a single state.  But that would not mean that the alternate version of events would "never have happened."  Let's consider the situation where Rhade in CY 9784 kills Dylan, goes forward in one timeline up through CY 10088, and then goes back to 9784 and causes the emergence of an alternate timeline which runs forward from that date.  Now, perhaps, theoretically, the departure of Rhade from his timeline in 10088 could cause the superposition to collapse at that point.  But what this would mean is that the single timeline would split into two in 9784 and the two tracks would run parallel until 10088, when the original track stops and the second track takes over as the "real" one.  So maybe in that way one timeline could be destroyed in favor of the other.  But the events that happened during its temporary existence would always be part of the history of the universe.  The events of TUM did happen alongside the events of GRA's first season and a half.  They weren't erased or replaced.  They just didn't have a future.

Still, I see no physical justification for this idea, no mechanism that would cause the Rhade timeline to stop after his departure in 10088.  And it can't be the case, because Trance came back from his future to change his decision.  So we know that the Rhade timeline does move forward from t=10088.

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#36 Christopher

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:37 AM

Rhea, on Jan. 30 2003,10:11, said:

The problem with even having this conversation is that Andromeda started out with a single timeline universe. Ad,DB was consistent with that.

Ouroborous fudged the issue, and TUM fudges it even more.
Well, as I said, what seems like a change in the laws of physics may just be a change in the initial conditions, the variables you plug into the equation.  For instance, time, mass and dimension behave very differently at v=299,792,450 meters per second than they do at v= 0.5 m/s.  Or, at current energy levels, the four fundamental forces behave differently from each other, but at high enough energy levels they merge together into a single unified force.

So GRA is a temporally self-consistent (single-timeline) universe under most physical conditions, but under rare conditions the creation of alternatives might be possible.  It's really no different from saying that, under normal physical circumstances, faster-than-light travel is impossible, but if you can create just the right set of abnormal conditions using exotic materials and near-unattainable amounts of energy, then you can take advantage of a loophole or two and get around the lightspeed limit.

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#37 Christopher

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:37 AM

Cardie, on Jan. 30 2003,08:45, said:

To make Christopher happy, I'm moving this to Science and Technology. I hope you don't mind, Lil.

Cardie
Thanks! :wideeyed:
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#38 Bad Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:52 AM

And here I was about to say I think it's a fine idea to move this thread..... ;)

Christopher I've not had any caffeine so apologies for not responding point by point.

The way I see it I've got two choices how to look at this and both are problematic in terms of consistency with ADDB (though arguably one of them could be consistent with BOTL).  Note that I'm no physicist and I make no pretense that any of this is based on any scientific possibility, it's just my own caffeine deprived brain.

Possibility Number One:  There is but ONE time "line", that is there is but one chronology of events.  However the word "line" is a misnomer because although there is but one, in fact it tends to be more of a curly q thing such that once in a while you will see things happening out of sequence and even once in a while see a brief convergence because um, the "line" isn't a still thing but tends to ebb and flow.  Under this scenarior, the chronology would actually be that Rhade kills Dylan, goes forward with his mission, fails, encounters nu Trance (temporary convergence of present with future due to ebbs and flows), realizes he has to set things right, goes back, kills his younger self, and lets Dylan kill him, allowing Dylan to proceed with his mission.

Chronologically on the show that is not how it happened because of the fact that the time line is not straight but curly and hence the weirdness in chronology.

The problem with this:  It is imho inconsistent with the theory advanced in ADDB that once an event happens, it can't be undone.  So that once Rhade kills Dylan, Dylan is dead and that can't be changed.

The attractive thing to me:  It at least keeps it all in one universe.   :eek:

Possibility Number Two:  

Multiple realities, normally entirely separate but occassionally convergent, giving someone who fails in one reality the chance to succeed in another.

In all my arguments that Rhade has no incentive to save an "alternate" time line, the obvious flaw is that it assumes a fact not in evidence:  that Rhade actually KNEW that what he was being given a chance to do was save a time line different than his own.  Trance never told him this.

The problem:  I think the idea of multiple realities is inconsistent with both ADDB and Ouroboros.  However the idea has been raised in BOTL.

I still say it's the first scenario myself.

Okay, my uncaffeinated ramblings (somewhat edited and fleshed out now that I have some tea in me).

:)

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#39 Rhea

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 11:07 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jan. 30 2003,15:52, said:

Heh heh. Your uncaffeinated ramblings are far more organized than mine.  :D

I too prefer possibility number one. It makes more sense to me. And I think I embraced the single timeline paradigm as first introduced, so I get a little confuzzled when they start tinkering with it. :crazy:

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Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#40 Bad Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 11:41 AM

Thanks Rhea!

Yeah I agree though I would prefer the immutable past to have stayed in tact....

Like I said, I prefer Twelve Monkeys to the Terminator movies for time travel stories..

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