Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
Nina: Nana what were you like when you were a kid?
Nana: Well behaved, quiet and obedient. Not a bit like you.
Nina: Are you sure Nana? I bet you’re exaggerating. You know, I’m going to find out soon enough.
Nana: Really? Are you going to time travel to meet my younger self?
Nina: Yes Nana. I bet you were a lot more fun to play with then. And I’m sure you were noisy and mischievous too. I can’t wait to find out.
Nana: Well make sure you don’t do something clumsy or stupid and end up obliterating your own current existence. Haha.
Nina: Oh you mean the grandfather paradox, don’t you?
Nana: Don’t you call me a paradox young lady. It’s rude.
Nina: But Nana, that's what it's called.
Nana: Hahaha. I know. I can kid too, you see. Yes that’s what I mean. Time travel is too messed up.
Nina: A recent paper shows that the math for time travel works out so there are no logical inconsistencies. Events rearrange themselves in such a way as to avert a paradox.
Nana: So how do you explain the grandfather paradox?
Nina: I don’t quite understand, though others have tried to with the idea of twisted time, even before this theory came up. But this theory tries to explain the corona virus paradox.
Nana: Whatever is that? Did Einstein travel to the future to come up with it?
Nina: No, it’s just a contemporary version of the grandfather paradox that these scientists came up with to explain their work.
Nana: Are you saying grandfathers are not contemporary? Didn’t my daughter teach you any manners, rude girl!
Nina: Nana, will you let me finish?
Nana: You’re sounding more like me. I like that. Now you know how much you annoy me. Okay go on.
Nina: So the idea is, suppose you went back in time and prevented patient zero from getting corona virus then the pandemic wouldn’t happen and you wouldn’t be motivated to go back in time to prevent patient zero from getting it. A lot like the grandfather paradox, right.
Nana: Hmph, right. I hate that they call it the grandfather paradox. Killing grandfathers, how barbaric!
Nina: Nana focus. So these scientists say that events would rearrange themselves so there would be no logical inconsistency. For example, in trying to prevent patient zero form catching the virus, you yourself might catch it, and then the pandemic would proceed, and you would go back in time to prevent patient zero from catching it. But that would be you, and the closed loop would keep replaying. No paradox, see.
Nana: Good heavens! So if you ever time travel you’ll keep looping through various times endlessly. What a nightmare! I sure hope I’m dead before they implement the technology for it.
Nina: Don’t worry Nana. If you are, I’ll come and visit you in the past. We can always be together forever and ever.
This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Lavanya Srinivasan. Her posts can be found here.