Thus far no time traveler has been so dimwitted as to let a paradox come to pass. By definition, a paradox is a statement or proposition that, despire apparently sound reasoning from an acceptable premise, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable,or self-contradictory.
Types of Time Travel ParadoxesEdit
This sentence is false. A sentence which if true is false and if false is true. The Homer Simpson Burrito of Doubt. Could God make a burrito so hot that he himself coud not eat it? The Chicken or the Egg. Which came first? Answer: Velociraptor
However, unlike the standard, thought-experiment variety of paradox, the temporal paradox is a good deal scarier. It is fraught with questions, steeped in conundrums, and washed over with an air of no-frills, pants-crapping fear. Before delving into the various categories of temporal paradox and anecdotes that illuminate the ease with which they are created, we'll start with the basics and allow you a moment to don an adult diaper.
The classic example of a temporal paradox is the grandfather paradox, also known as the Grandpappycide Paradox. In it, a moron with the capability of time travel (let's call this traveler "You") uses said capability to go back in time before your grandfather has knocked up your grandmother or that prostitute in Saigon.
While there, you kill Grandpa in cold blood. In addition to insues of murder and family murder and the psychological damage it would cause or require, this scenario creates a paradox. If your grandfather is dead before he makes your dad, then you never could have been born and therefore never could have grown up, found a time machine, traveled back in time, and murdered your own grandfather. Consequently, your grandfather could not be dead, even though you just lobotomized him with a salad fork. One of these factors does not compute.
Beyond the obvious questions ("Why the hell would you do that?" or "Couldn't I just kill my dad instead?"), surely you're wondering what would happen if the above scenario came to pass. Unfortunately, there is much more learning that needs to take place on your end before you'll be ready to hear the answer. Suffice it to say that if you are truly hell-bent on avenging your mediocre childhood to the extent that you would murder Pop Pop, please do your best to leave time travel out of it.
The Butterfly EffectEdit
Another classic example of a temporal paradox is known as the Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect occurs when you go back in time and step on the small child version of Ashton Kutcher.
It's similar to Grandpapppycide but with radically different results: instead of the dissolution of the universe due to irreconcilable yet equally valid occurences, the Universe we know and love is instantly and irreparably altered. To wit:
- Ryan Gosling is cast as Kelso on the time travel television series That '70s Show.
- The Notebook is only released in Spanish-speaking nations.
- That '70s Show is cancelled after three seasons when Gosling can't muster requisite comedic relief.
- Punk'd never exists.
- No one ever gets Punk'd
- Maybe Punk'd does exist, but it's hosted by Robert Pattinson of Twilight.
- Twilight instead casts Dustin Diamond of Saved By the Bell: The New Class as Edward, the sexy, pale-skinned vampire.
- Even girls with low self-esteem cringe.
- Twilight never garners enough success to justify a sequel.
- No one ever finds out what happens to Bella.
- Demi Moore is available, assuming you can defeat Bruce Willis in a cage fight to the death.
All right, so all that doesn't sound so bad.
But if putting pre-That '70s Show Ashton Kutcher into a chasm changes more than just Ashton Kutcher-related things? Dubai may never exist, American Idol could become a national sport, or you could be Gary Coleman. Who is not peculiarly tiny, but died in 2010. Paradox.
In other circles, the theory of the Butterfly Effect postulates that if you go back in time to prehistory and accidentally step on a butterfly (for example), that seemingly minor change sets off a domino-like chain for alterations throughout the world, which result in a future unrecognizable to the clumsy-footed traveler. Here the damage done to The Universe is directly proportional to how far back in time you travel. This also applies to future travel. The effects of an event of action in the present will have farther-reaching expression the farther into the future you travel subsequently. For example, if you go back to yesterday and step in some dog crap, it is unlikely that once you return to the present anything will be different, outside of your need to new sneakers. But say you go way back to a time when soup du jour is primordial. There you are, on the pristine beaches of Pangaea, just as the first-ever-legged-fish demon creature is pulling itself onto dry land. If you kick that slimy toadmonster back from whence it came, you more likely will have just altered every infinitesimal event to follow and probably even disallowed for the possibility of human existance. At best, we would evolve into merpeople (Time travel proves evolution, we think).
It should stand to reason that the further back you go, the more careful you should be
The Four ParadoxesEdit
Thus far you might have not needed that diaper you put on. Most paradoxes, as you surely seeing, can be avoided throgh caution, non-murder, and moderate consumption of alcohol.
But don't remove your crap-catcher just yet. Unfortunately, there are many more ways to damage the timeline than Ashton Kutcher would have you believe. I have carefully devised four different categories of paradox, each trickier and more dangerous than the last:
- Paradox by Action
- Paradox by Inaction
- Paradox by Predestiny
- Paradox of a General Lack of Understanding of Paradoxes
Other pages will describe each of the above variations in detail, rely heavily on guessing in lieu of actual science, and maybe, if there's time, take a stab at how to avoid destroying spacetime when faced with each.