I Have Finally Made A Time Machine…Or Not [Pic]

I had a lengthy Facebook discussion with some of my friends from physics regarding this. The conclusion was that this comic assumes that there are absolute spatial coordinates which are sun-centric. However, in reality, the (more or less) inertial frame of the Earth is no less absolute than the sun-centric system, so there is no reason to assume that you wouldn’t reappear in the frame you left (i.e. the Earth’s), rather than moving to a new one (which is the sun-centric frame).

Basically, the comic assumes absolute space, which is incorrect according to Galilean relativity and Einstein’s relativity. Boom.

[Via I f* love science]





18 Responses to I Have Finally Made A Time Machine…Or Not [Pic]

  1. I'm wondering if you have anything more basic than that. From where I'm sitting, it appears that the cartoonist is imagining that when the man jumps forward in time (the last frame seems to imply he wasn't going to the past) that he would appear exactly where he was with regards to the universe. The earth however is now further along it's orbit leaving him behind. I feel if he was truly fixed, both the sun and earth would have shifted farther away, not just the earth along the orbit. I fail to understand how he'd have reappeared on earth when taken from this perspective.

  2. There seems to be a point here where the argument is made that the sun would have drifted as well, not just the Earth. The comics point still remains the same. One would reappear in space. How does absolute spatial coordinates challenge relativity?

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  3. The supposed time traveller John Titor stated that they got around this issue with gravitational locks. The time machine takes a snapshot of the surrounding gravitational fields and then attempt to adjust as it travels forwards and backwards in time. This supposedly kept the traveller anchored to the same space while traveling through time. It also supposedly kept them from materializing inside a physical object. Notice my use of the word "supposedly". It's an interesting theory.

  4. "incorrect according to Galilean relativity"

    I'm not ashamed to admit I read it first as "Galifreyan relativity".

  5. Well. Let’s say you jump in time and appear everywhere else but your starting point. Then that would be a demonstration of a center of the universe? (wherever it is). If so, you could take some reading from your current position, and from your last position. Then you should have to jump again to get a third position… and voilá. You could calculate the absolute center of the universe. “Note to self: Next time I jump in time don’t forget a space suit”

  6. It is a comic and it's funny. Of course somebody that has spent that time building something will start making tests, maybe time jumps of seconds or minutes… what do I know, I haven't built one… yet.

  7. The comic doesn't assume that the motion is just sun centric. It could be relative to the motion of everything else in the universe, and so the guy would still pop out in space (most likely). The last frame could just be an example of the earth not being where it will be when he appears.

  8. Not to mention time is something created by humans, and in our sense, not constant across the universe.

  9. This is why Doctor Who does his time travelling in a TARDIS, that way it doesn't matter if he's a bit off target. :-)

  10. well, once you step away from a sun-centric universe, you realize that anywhere could be the "center" of the universe, and, as such, a geo-centric universe is not impossible. Just very, very messy (mathematically)…

  11. for me it’s just a visual anchor to make it easier to understand what happened (Earth moving). the same way one could argue there isnt’t any white arrow in which the Earth orbits, right? :-)