SMOKE: Time Travel
Originally published: 25 February 2004
I know time travel became all popular and stuff after the Back To The Future movie series, but I've been interested in it since well before those movies were made.
What the movies did were open my eyes to the possibility of future time travel in order to come back and profit from the present - before that I had only ever considered travelling back in time, to eras long past.
All of this, you understand, on the premise that not only will time travel become possible one day, but indeed even in my lifetime.
I've come to realise that my chances of hopping it back to the Crusades are as great as my chances of travelling to Mars, so I've given up on the idea.
I'll go as far as to say that I don't believe time travel will ever be possible, although I'm also the first to admit that what may seem like physically impossible missions as dictated by the laws of our universe and all that binds us together can just as easily be the same sort of cynicism that affected blokes arguing that the world was flat.
In other words - for centuries scientists and astronomers and mathematicians have declared certain physical theories impossible, but as human knowledge has progressed so they have been proved wrong.
Our current understanding of physics precludes the possibility of time travel (as far as I know we can't exist in two physical states at one time, which is what is required for time travel).
But that doesn't mean that it's impossible for us to one day discover that we can exist in infinite physical states, and indeed - do. It's just our limited understanding of the laws of the universe at this particular time in history.
You can't argue that our knowledge of physical laws will not progress - they have done since the start of time, to when the first chap worked out that pushing a round boulder would propel it forward, to Isaac Newton and his apple and so on into the new millennium.
Basically - we don't yet know what's possible or not, which makes it impossible to determine whether or not one day we will be able to travel backwards and forwards through time.
But for fun's sake, and to give me something to write about, let's suppose that in a couple of year's time some pale geek in a filthy, pizza-stained hovel he calls his bedroom comes up with a simple solution and in no time we all sign up for budget package tours of the past and present.
Where would you want to go?
The obvious choice is a year or two into the future, to check out the newspapers and betting magazines for winners of our present time, then to come back and lay bets on them before they've run.
Wouldn't really help me, though - to make it pay big time for you you will need to put a lot of money down and I doubt the R2 coin I've been saving for an emergency would net me much.
But fantastical movie plotlines excepted, I'd really like to catch a glimpse of the future, in time increments of 50 years. A lot of change happens in 50 years and I'd like to stop off in the same place every 50 years and photograph it, and do this until I've covered - say - a million years into the future.
That would make a pretty cool photo album. None of this "Oh, and look - there's Mommy with Patches by the sea" bollocks. Better yet - do summa that time lapse photography shit and put all the stills together to form a movie of how one place will evolve over the next million years.
If I were to go back in time there are a number of eras I have to check out for myself, but to go back in time requires knowledge of the place you are going to and adequate protection from Pigs.
Not to mention a reliable craft that won't leave you stranded in Salem during the late 1600s wearing a Megadeth t-shirt and a skull and crossbones ring.
I'd definitely like to go back to the cavemen - hopefully with some dinosaurs around.
A little microlight would sort me nicely, as I could float around above even the longest and most inquisitive neck and fly for miles over unspoiled terrain. Imagine flying low over South Africa as it was 65 million years ago - I doubt even Table Mountain would be around.
I'd love to be around during the height of the Roman empire - you could hop right into the middle of any available orgy, stuff your face with all manner of legal inebriants and go to the Colosseum to watch fellows be chowed by lions, or hack each other to death with maces.
That excites me. It's not very appropriate these days to want to see brutal live killing, but there's an innate urge that forces man to want to witness the taboo and there can be no greater taboo than watching someone die.
I'd fancy a trip to Spain at the time of the Inquisition, to ride a fast horse from Madrid to Malaga and to sail upon a galleon groaning under the weight of treasure plundered from wrecks off the coast of West Africa.
I'd like to visit the Old West and drink bitter coffee high in the mountains as a fresh wind blows across the prairies making the long grass whisper.
I'd fancy a stint in the trenches of Arles circa 1917, or be a fly on the wall overlooking the Battle of Stalingrad in January 1943, or a ship's mate at Dunkirk.
I'd have to see a guillotine in action and I'd really like to see the look on Lancelot's face when I ride up to him in jeans and t-shirt and tell him screw Merlin, buddy, and hear this - you want to be avoiding Guinevere. Trust me.
I'd like to see first hand a Paris street during the time of the Black Death, all overcome with pestilence and disease, and to ride the Old Silk Road all the way to Samarkand and beyond to the Gobi desert, carrying a writ from Kublai Khan himself that none shall hinder my passing.
I'd lose myself in ancient Persia and cross the Tigris and Euphrates; I'd go and chat to fellows like Plato and Aristotle (using a translator, of course) in the coffee shops of Greece; I'd visit Peru during the time of the Inca; I'd love to chat with gentlemen of Victorian England about their thoughts on whether a moon landing will ever be achieved; and I'd definitely want to witness a battle or two involving groups like the Mongol hordes, the Vikings, the warring Scottish clans with their two-handed axes and the French mobs in 1789.
In fact - the only era in time I wouldn't necessarily like to go back to is the 80s - been there, done that, made it out without turning gay.
Mighty warriors - yes. Jeans tucked into white boots - I think not.
All Smoked Out,