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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 688
# 14
10-08-2012, 07:03 AM
Originally Posted by sophlogimo View Post
We already know that there are millions of parallel Star Trek universes. Going into the past and changing things merely creates another one. It will not affect the actual future (or present).

However, once you have entered a different universe, the only reliable way to get "home" is to set things straight again so they develop roughly in the way that your own universe did, so when you go "back" into the future, this new universe won't differ too much from the old.
That creates a paradox all of its own though. Time travel 101 says you go back in time, you make a change, and time continues along a different path. You're stuck following that path to whatever future it leads to. That does indeed mean that for you to get back home (or rather, reach a future point in the new timeline that looks like home) you have to undo the alterations, either by going back further or mitigating the consequences.

You can't however actually ever return to your original timeline. (Other than (maybe) by sidestepping the way the Mirror Universe does. The effects of which on spacetime I hesitate to guess at.)

Worse yet, if time in this new timeline plays out as it should, and you hop forward to your departure date, you'll find that in this new timeline, another version of you was born and is living your life. Now if this universe is similar enough, this version of you will have gone back in time to repeat the whole mess before, and you'd be none the wiser.

In your original timeline, however, if you were the 'first' to go back in time, no earlier alternate version of you is available to replace you.

This also means that when the Borg went back in time to assimilate Earth, the timeline they departed continued unchanged. All the Starfleet survivors would have seen was the disappearance of the Borg cube and the Enterprise. The only reason the Enterprise was able to see what the Borg were setting out to (rather pointlessly) do is because it was caught in the sphere's temporal wake and moving into the new timeline with it. So unless Borg quantum-compute across timelines, the queen's trip to the good old days would have had no benefits for the collective she left behind, only for a new one.

Same deal with Janeway going back cause oh dear oh dear, poor little Seven died and Chuckles didn't take it so well and oh, Tuvok lost his marbles. All these things still happened. These people still go on without her. Unchanged. She's just created another timeline, for another version of herself and these other people, where these things could be avoided.

So basically, if you go back in time to try to do anything, say something positive, like prevent suffering or something else bad from happening, it never works. The damage in timeline you originate from is done and will always continue to exist. You can create a new timeline for you to live in where everything is all sunshine and butterflies, but it changes nothing for the people you left back home. As far as altruism is concerned, it's an exercise in futility. No one loses or benefits but you. The people in the new timeline didn't even exist until now.

Problem with this theory is though the clash of mathematics and physics. Mathematics likes to pretend there's such a thing as infinite anything. Physics as far as I know, really doesn't embrace that quite so eagerly. We really know of nothing that's infinite. Space isn't even infinite. So why would time be? Why should we assume that it is? And what supports all these timelines? If you boil everything down to its most basic elements, all matter and energy can reduced to information. Information needs to be stored. The obvious choice is spacetime. Now it could very well be that there is a massive amount of spacetime, more than enough to hold the entire history, down to subatomic events, of the universe up to and from now on, trillions to the trillionth power times over. But if spacetime is anything short of infinite, what happens when the universe's harddrive is full? With every new timeline created, afterall, the amount of storage medium remaining for future events is reduced. Going from one timeline to two halves it. We're also not just dealing with Earth here, or Trek races, but also races that live in other galaxies, civilizations that have already fallen, or may still need to come into existence. If the people in both timeline one and timeline two keep travelling through time, the number of timelines is going to keep increasing, exponentially, until finally...

Well, as far as Daniels knows the universe could crash next Wednesday. (We know it's at least going to make it into the 31st century.) So for me the question really isn't, how does the Federation survive timetravel. How does anything?

Remember, manipulate time with moderation.

Last edited by hrisvalar; 10-08-2012 at 07:18 AM.