One-Minute Time Machine
A friend shared a short movie with me and I’d like to share it with you. It’s fairly predictable, though I’d encourage you to stick with it to the end because it does get the mind thinking…
The similarities with Groundhog Day (with Bill Murray) are so apparent I won’t patronise you and point them out. But the welcome difference here is that where Groundhog Day is symptomatic of some sort of time-repetitive phenomenon (we only know that there’s replay), One-Minute Time Machine lets us know from the outset that it arises because there’s time travel.
True, the time machine is black box (or at least a shoe box) and we even get a little education in it thanks to reference towards the book that she’s reading!
The idea of reliving part of your life over and over again, taking information back with you each time to learn from, is not new. Think Groundhog Day (of course!), Replay (Ken Grimwood) and Buckyball (Fabien Roy) to name a few.
Personally, I like the idea presented in The Time Traveler’s Wife that the past has already happened – including the trips to it. This means that the actions made by a time traveler have already been.
For example, a time traveler goes back in time to save the life of someone who’s been hit in a car accident. The ambulance had arrived too late, so our time traveler endeavors to phone the ambulance himself, but earlier. When he goes back in time to the scene of the accident he pulls out his phone but there’s no signal. It takes time to borrow a phone so his call to the ambulance is delayed and subsequently the ambulance arrives too late to save the person’s life. It was the time traveler’s phone call in the original time line which had lead to the ambulance arriving too late in the first place.
But things are different in One-Minute Time Machine because history is actually being rewritten. Where the sweet talk and charming maneuvers went wrong the first time round, the guy learns and uses this information not just to try again, but to re-do it as though it had never happened in the first place – at least from the point of view of the girl.
A deadly game
This is an important point – replay applies to a specific person. So the question is this: does an alternate time line apply to us, or to someone else? In the latter case we are simply an unknowing pawn in someone else’s game.
“Unknowing”? In this clip the girl is reading about the effects of time travel and is not only educated in it…but becomes the player not the pawn! It’s a brilliant twist!
Don’t rush to be the player though – it’s a deadly game and we see (for me for the first time) that it may well be beneficial to be a pawn; the player dies.
So this is where I have a problem…if the player dies then how is the experience information passed back in time to the next replay?
Discussing this with my friend who shared the clip brought forth the idea of a ‘life force’. The life force – the essence of the guy – goes back in time, and takes the information back with him. This would explain how only one version of him would remain alive because the version of the guy in the present is left with no life force and dies.
On the other hand / at the same time…
Even so. It doesn’t seem plausible that only the player (the one pushing the time travel button) gets to live the thread of a life. It would be more convincing if everyone (actually, all life – including those not in the clip) died and started anew.
But then there’s no preservation of information which is the crux of the plot.
Perhaps the life energy to move to another pre-existing universe costs the life in the other – but then it isn’t a copy but a pre-existing exact double. This seeps into the realms of quantum theory, that everything or all possibilities already co-exist, but each needs a trigger (such as observation, or as here, a click of a time machine) to turn it into just one reality.
What are the odds?
Whatever the explanation, with so many versions of players and pawns, it’s quite incredible to wonder which combination of possible halves in a couple will successfully meet each other and, no pun intended, marry their previous experiences together?
Finally, I must admit that I first saw this clip several years ago. I’m just hoping the same version of me has already seen it, and not a copy of me who’ve I’ve just killed!
Note: This post first appeared as a guest post in April 2019 on the discontinued timetravelnexus website.
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