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Apr 16 2012

Practicing time travel

I’m in the Melbourne airport, about to depart on a 9:30am flight to Los Angeles, which will arrive at 7am today. I’d suggest that we keep going around and around and wind the clock back a few years, except that the only effect of time travel seems to be exhaustion and confusion, and I’ve had enough of that for a while. See you in a more familiar time zone tomorrow! I mean, today! I mean…I don’t know. I’m going to just close my eyes and see when I end up.

60 comments

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  1. 1
    reasonbeing

    Do you get in before you leave? That is always a bit disorientating…

  2. 2
    Inaji

    Safe travel to you & Mary.

  3. 3
    Anthony K

    When you get to the past, don’t do anything that affects anything, unless it turns out you were supposed to, in which case, for the love of God, don’t not do it!

  4. 4
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Don’t worry PZ, with the Trophy Wife™ along, she’ll keep you straight. Good trip, and hear from you on the other side.

  5. 5
    Inaji

    Brownian:

    When you get to the past, don’t do anything that affects anything, unless it turns out you were supposed to, in which case, for the love of God, don’t not do it!

    We better hope he doesn’t meet his grandma…

  6. 6
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Turns out you can arrive in LA (if that’s your transit) before you leave Melbourne.

    Every time I fly through LA, I try to get a Melbourne newspaper to find out which sporting teams are going to win in the next 6 hours, so I can place some bets & make a fortune. Unfortunately, they don’t have any outlets for the paper version there. I’m waiting for the next trip, when I will finally be able to access the website from the future…..

  7. 7
    Gregory in Seattle

    Professor, you might useful The Time Traveler’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations by Dr. Dan Streetmentioner. Just keep in mind that all pages after the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Subjunctive Intentional are intentionally blank to save printing costs: the book is so incredibly dull that no one ever gets any farther than that.

  8. 8
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    And that the Future perfect has been dropped,

    Because, having been there, it has been discovered that it is not.

  9. 9
    Peter Cranny

    Time is an illusion.

    Lunch time doubly so.

    Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  10. 10
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Great seeing you again, PZ! Hope Australia (well, the Melbourne bit of it) made the hours in the flying tube worthwhile :)

  11. 11
    Davros

    Australia is in the Future

  12. 12
    Cipher

    Wait, you’re going to be in LA? For a thing or just for travel?

  13. 13
    Menyambal

    The only time I was on a trip like that, I was flying Japan Air Lines. I was so groggy that when they served supper just a few hours after breakfast, I ordered the octopus.

    Whole baby dead octopus.

    PZ might like that, though.

  14. 14
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Cassandra,

    That was just my musings about trips I have done. LA is the most common entry point into the USA from Melbourne. I’ve no idea whether PZ is going that route or not.

  15. 15
    echidna

    I hope both of you have a good trip. Try to nap if you can.

  16. 16
    echidna

    LA is the most common entry point into the USA from Melbourne.

    14 hours is about the most a plane can do without running into lack-of-fuel issues. The only direct flight from Melbourne to mainland US is Melb-LAX, although I have to say I prefer Melb-Syd-SF, so that I can avoid LAX, and I’m usually heading to SF anyway.

    There really isn’t a lot of land between Australia and the US.

  17. 17
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    14 hours is about the most a plane can do without running into lack-of-fuel issues. The only direct flight from Melbourne to mainland US is Melb-LAX, although I have to say I prefer Melb-Syd-SF, so that I can avoid LAX, and I’m usually heading to SF anyway

    I prefer the Mel-Syd-SAF route on the way there, and the SAF-LAX-MEL route on the way back, but that’s because I hate Sydney’s damn fool terminal system & after the 14 hour flight, I’m in no mood to face it.

  18. 18
    chigau (違う)

    I haven’t been to LAX in over 20 years.
    Is it still fucking horrible?

  19. 19
    J Bowen

    Wouldn’t that flight make PZ and Mary both a few microseconds younger than the rest of us?

    Awesome speech, PZ. As always, thanks.

  20. 20
    Cipher

    That was just my musings about trips I have done. LA is the most common entry point into the USA from Melbourne. I’ve no idea whether PZ is going that route or not.

    He said in the post though :P

  21. 21
    echidna

    prefer the Mel-Syd-SAF route on the way there, and the SAF-LAX-MEL route on the way back, but that’s because I hate Sydney’s damn fool terminal system & after the 14 hour flight, I’m in no mood to face it.

    No argument from me.

  22. 22
    timberwoof

    Don’t worry PZ, with the Trophy Wife™ along, she’ll keep you straight.

    Wait, what? Surely changing his—Oh. I know what you mean. Never mind. ;)

    Do you get in before you leave? That is always a bit disorientating…</blockquote?

    Just be glad that trips across the time zone don't cause distemper.

    Have a safe and uneventful trip, PZ

  23. 23
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    I haven’t been to LAX in over 20 years.
    Is it still fucking horrible?

    I went through it a year ago. It’s fucking abysmal. Missed my connecting flight after coming from Sydney and had to wait in line for 2 fucking hours before I could talk to anyone. They put me on a flight for that night and wouldn’t put me in a hotel until I nearly had a breakdown in front of them. I’ll never go through LAX again if I can help it.

  24. 24
    phasic

    Nah, it can get worse. Qantas does a Brisbane to Dallas-Fort Worth leg that is 16 hours non-stop in a 747. I did it last November and it was a whole bunch of not fun.

  25. 25
    lactosefermenter

    Australia to LA, huh? Hmm…
    If you end up on an island where you have to press a button every 108 minutes, don’t ask questions just press the damn button.

  26. 26
    echidna

    Nah, it can get worse. Qantas does a Brisbane to Dallas-Fort Worth leg that is 16 hours non-stop in a 747. I did it last November and it was a whole bunch of not fun.

    I can imagine it was not fun. That’s fairly close to the range limit of a 747-400, which is what I assume the plane was.

    I did a bit of google-fu, and found this in Wikipedia:

    from 1943 to 1945 Qantas operated a weekly return flight from Western Australia to Sri Lanka with flight times from 28 to 33 hours.

  27. 27
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce
    That was just my musings about trips I have done. LA is the most common entry point into the USA from Melbourne. I’ve no idea whether PZ is going that route or not.

    He said in the post though :P

    *facepalm*

    {Slinks away in self disgust, stopping only for a quick paw wash.}

    I really need to learn to read for comprehension, don’t I?

  28. 28
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    The first time I flew through LAX I actually had a good experience. My itinerary was Melbourne to Singapore, Singapore to Tokyo, Tokyo to LA, LA to Seattle, Seattle to Edmonton. It was around 32 hours of travel time door to door. Why? Damned if I know other than that my travel agent swore it was the only way to get me back to Edmonton when I need to be there.

    In Tokyo I realized I hadn’t packed deodorant or a clean shirt in my carry-on. I couldn’t find anything in the terminal shops that I could positively identify as deodorant and it was too busy to find someone with enough english to ask.

    By LA I was pretty ripe. On checking in the clerk asked if I wanted window or aisle and I said I was too zombified to care but she should probably put me the smelly section. I board the plane and find I’m on the aisle of a three seat row that is otherwise empty. We take off and I when we hit cruising altitude I get up to pee and realize that I’m the only one on the whole aircraft who has a row to myself. That clerk took pity on me or I really was as pungent as I had assumed, either way it she did me a kindness. :)

  29. 29
    Cipher

    *facepalm*

    {Slinks away in self disgust, stopping only for a quick paw wash.}

    I really need to learn to read for comprehension, don’t I?

    Teehee aww. *hugs to Catnip* Happens to all of us sometimes.

  30. 30
    left0ver1under

    PZM’s joking idea reminds me of this XKCD comic:

    http://xkcd.com/162/

    I wouldn’t doubt there are people who actually think this way, who think by doing something dumb they’ll save time or money.

  31. 31
    cactusren

    The only good thing about long flights like that is that they make any subsequent not-so-ridiculous flights seem like a breeze. I once flew from Washington DC to Johannesburg, South Africa, with a stop to refuel in Dakar. Eighteen hours on one plane. A couple months later, I went to Beijing, and the 12 hour flight seemed downright reasonable.

  32. 32
    Pteryxx

    I’d suggest that we keep going around and around and wind the clock back a few years, except that the only effect of time travel seems to be exhaustion and confusion, and I’ve had enough of that for a while.

    Actually, traveling in a moving frame of reference really does slow down time for you (via time dilation). Demonstrated by comparing an atomic clock on the ground with one flown in a plane. Therefore, flying DOES make your life longer than it would have been if you didn’t travel (as long as you survive.)

  33. 33
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Teehee aww. *hugs to Catnip* Happens to all of us sometimes

    Prrrrr prrrrr prrrrr

  34. 34
    echidna

    The only good thing about long flights like that is that they make any subsequent not-so-ridiculous flights seem like a breeze.

    Yeah. Melbourne to anywhere-in-Europe is very, very long.

  35. 35
    jand

    Ultimate argument against rapture, armageddon, apocalypse etc:

    “The world is not going to end today,
    it’s already tomorrow in Australia”

  36. 36
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ cactusren

    Eighteen hours on one plane.

    Compare: Hong Kong – Seoul – San Fran – Atlanta – Tampa. All concatenated together, without a break. GAWD, we were zombiefied… (And then back again!)

  37. 37
    Natalie

    PZ We LOVED having you in Melbourne for the GAC! I am spewing I missed the fringe event at Uni of Melb (couldn’t get a babysitter, boo hoo) but I sure hope that you consider coming back at the earliest invitation! It was a fabulous talk you gave, vibrant and encouraging – I particularly liked the bit where you related how you didn’t ‘like’ the moderate god-botherers… me neither! Have a great flight and best of luck, missing you already! Kind regards, Natalie Eldridge, Blackburn, Victoria, Australia.

  38. 38
    Dick the Damned

    Caine, #5,

    We better hope he doesn’t meet his grandma…

    More to the point, i hope he doesn’t meet my grandmas, if they were babies, & especially so if he was hungry. Well, i guess he didn’t – not in this universe, anyway.

  39. 39
    Matt Penfold

    I have done Gatwick-LA-Aukland-Brisbane, which was 42 hours door to door. I could not have told you what continent I was on by the time I arrived.

  40. 40
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Matt

    I could not have told you what continent I was on by the time I arrived.

    Australia is not an island ‽

  41. 41
    Matt Penfold

    Australia is not an island ‽

    I think it is considered both an island and a continent, but after that flight I was in no position to say.

  42. 42
    duvelthehobbit666

    If you are going to time travel, you should really do it with a blue police box.

  43. 43
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Island and continent is correct. Isn’t attached to any other land mass. Hence it must be an island, and has its very own Patent Continental Plate ™ to travel the world on.

  44. 44
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Although further reading suggests that there are more than one definition to islands & continents, & the division between island and continent seems to be arbitrary, so my previous comment could be both wrong and right. I blame quantum duality.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    rnilsson

    Umm, I’m probably confused here. Which way is the route again? Melbourne to LA, the shorter way should be due east and north, so the plane meets time on its way, so to say, rather than following the timezone chasing sunsets in the west.

    IOW, unless I am more confused than everyone else, you will most likely touch down TOMORROW morning instead of before you took off. Missing a number of meals and otherwise productive hours whilst in a cramped position. Now I envy you a little bit less!

    Happy flying, anyway.

  47. 47
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Rnilsson

    Heading east, you do “go faster” through the timeline, until you cross the dateline mid pacific. At which time, you go back in time by 24hours.

  48. 48
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    #39 Matt Penfold at 42 hours wins the day. Sheesh.

  49. 49
    rnilsson

    @ Catnip,
    Aha, so that darned singularity beat me again! Thanks for clearing me up on this point! Borders abound where least expected, as always.

  50. 50
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    No worries rnilsson. The date line can do weird stuff to your mind when you cross it, if combined with lack of sleep and sensory deprivation.

  51. 51
    Skip White

    @ 25, lactosefermenter

    I was wondering how long it’d take for a Lost reference to surface. Of course, one would also have to figure in all the other time travel as well.

  52. 52
    Rey Fox

    Therefore, flying DOES make your life longer than it would have been if you didn’t travel

    Until you factor in your increased exposure to cosmic rays on an airplane.

  53. 53
    jeremystyron

    As I have just been working my way through Lost for the first time on Netflix, flying from Australia to Los Angeles would completely weird me out. ;)

  54. 54
    Doug Little

    Enjoy the inevitable jet lag that you are going to suffer PZ. I always get really bad jet lag coming back over from Oz.

  55. 55
    Doug Little

    Actually, traveling in a moving frame of reference really does slow down time for you (via time dilation). Demonstrated by comparing an atomic clock on the ground with one flown in a plane. Therefore, flying DOES make your life longer than it would have been if you didn’t travel (as long as you survive.)

    The person who currently holds the record for time dilation is Sergei_Avdeyev. He has aged roughly 20 milliseconds less than an earthbound person due to his 747 odd days aboard the Mir space station.

  56. 56
    pentatomid

    Don’t worry,PZ, as long as you don’t change any fixed points in time, everything will be fine. (If you do, though, the entire universe will be in deep shit, what with the pterosaurs and Winston Churchill and all that.) Also, avoid your ancestors… And maybe those of your wife as well, just to be on the safe side.

  57. 57
    ibyea

    Yeah, but what is the point of time dilation if you yourself is not going to feel it. Only the observers outside your frame of reference notices the time dilation.

  58. 58
    DLC

    Safe travels, PZ. But, as you have been to the future, you knew I was going to say that. Or did you go into the future to use your Super Science to make me say that? ? ?

  59. 59
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    PZ, keep practicing. Eventually (unless you are a medical doctor, dentist, or lawyer) you will get it right.

  60. 60
    garydargan

    This of course means that Americans are living in the past. No wonder there are so many creationists. As a matter of interest Muslims anticipated this time conundrum. One early question their scholars dealt with was: If you are in a town and you pray at the time the prayer is due then reach another town before the time comes for the same prayer do you have to pray again? All this before international jet travel. Did they anticipate this or were they making rulings for Sufis of high station who were endowed with supersonic flying carpets?

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