10 Things I’d Do With a Time Machine

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(This post was updated in 2016 but originally written by me in 2011)

There are only a few fundamental concepts throughout the universe. Our perception of reality changes from place to place and time to time. What we might perceive as great one instance, we might think as non-existent the next. It all has to do with illusions of reality; concepts that mask the true working of the universe. Like a Swiss watch beneath which lies a cornucopia of minute gears, all working simultaneously in cog-like procession to make one large concept work. In that case, the concept is the moving of the second, minute and hour hands of a watch. In our universe’s case, it is to shadow the mind boggling vastness of our existential realm, the universe.

10 Things I'd Do With a Time Machine, Time Travel Upamanyu Acharya

One such gear is time. The illusion of time passing, or time that has past is just what it actually is: an illusion. You can compare the same object when it is new and when it is a hundred years old, and find the effect of aging to prove that time does in fact move forward, but then again, how can you be sure that it isn’t your perception that is moving backward, rather than time that is moving forward?

And it is through these theses, and inspiration from a variety of sources; The Time Machine by H.G Wells; Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; Einstein’s works and 42 that I have concluded that I have built a time machine. Now I haven’t exactly built it yet, but I’m pretty confident that I will build it one day. And when I do build it, it will merge my past and future into one constant blur through the matrix of space-time, so I can safely say that, yes, I have built a time machine.
Now it is for my future self to ponder over whether I actually show the time machine to my 14 year old self, but it’s unlikely that I’d not do any of the following things when I build my time machine:

1) Visit the dinosaur era.

Dinosaur saying Woof Woof Dog

Come on, this one’s sort of a no-brainer. I’d like to go and see how accurate Jurassic Park was. I’m guessing not much. I’ve always had a suspicion that crows are the descendants of extinct velociraptors. The way crows attack, communicate and communicate while attacking; it’s just very velociraptor-like. I hate crows because they’re like the creepy uncle who stands there in the corner, eyeing you meticulously while you try to shift your gaze somewhere else, and wherever you might be, that uncle will find a way to stare straight into your eyes, through your mortal, perishable soul, through your very existence. Too bad crows lost their hunting skills when they learnt to fly. Anyway, dinosaurs must be introduced to The Beatles and Queen, so there’s one thing you can thank me for when you find fossilized Live Aid 1985 discs next to Chinese dinosaur nests in Tibetain mountainscapes.

2) Kill Hitler’s nemesis.

If you peruse your history well enough, like more-than-PhD-at-Oxbridge enough, I mean like REALLY well enough, then you might understand that history has a way of coming up with new heroes and villains every now and then. But the Nazis sort of took the helm after the pharaohs were swept out of fashion into their less apocalyptic caves. The Nazis did it all; death, racism and an obsessive fixation with Jews. But you know why I wouldn’t just go and kill Hitler? It’s because he’s too memorialized. He’s left behind an empire of people to point fingers at whenever something goes wrong. Imagine the millions of political discussions and ‘civil’ online threads that wouldn’t devolve into calling the other person a Nazi if I killed Hitler before he became Commander of the Third Reich?

Hitler Did Nothing Wrong
Everyone is a Nazi.

What I think is, before Hitler, there was a man (or woman) a million times worse. Like Dr. Doofenshmirtz with intelligence. And if it weren’t for me and my heroic assassination skills, that man (or woman) would make you forget that Hitler ever existed. That bad. But you know what? I’m probably going to kill him (or her) soon. Basically the concept of Hitler is a coffin, and you can put your very own Hitler in that coffin depending on the cultural antagonists you want to abide by.

3) Build the pyramids.

I’ll travel back to ancient Egypt and bring them a few gifts. You know, iPads, remote control Quadrocopters, whiskey (I think they’d like Antiquity but Red Label is cheaper) and all that stuff. There are only two possible outcomes: either I get branded a heretic and they come after me, in which case I simply take back the gifts and get the hell away from there (or then, rather) or I become their new king. I’ll keep doing that till I get the second option, since time is basically a very elaborate gambling mini-game in a large open world video game, and then I’ll casually slip a note to the second in command and instruct him to build the pyramids. Then I make him King and mysteriously disappear into the shifting sands of the desert. I need to have a grand exit, you know. 

4) Witness the Tunguska Event.

What is it with Siberia and literally being the coolest place on Earth?

Tunguska Event Siberia Meteor Comet Explosion Russia It’s like this, but more psychedelic.

5) Create life itself.

Okay, here’s a very very interesting aspect of the evolution of iPads and human civilisation. How do you think life started? From what people have gathered till 2011 CE, it’s understood that the oceans “randomly” mixed up a few elements and fused them together to form chains of amino acids, which grew and evolved till it formed a ‘cell’. From then, life just always got lucky when it picked up the Chance card in Monopoly. Life is definitely out there somewhere in the universe, it’s just not directly visible to us.

So that’s what I’m going to do, create life. Just find a bunch of cells from the present day and dump them into the sea, or perhaps an ask actual scientist what the process might be. I don’t know. I didn’t really think this one through. The day I return from that trip and my friends ask my what I did today, I can say “Nothing much man, just the usual, you know, creating life and all.”

6) Kill a man in the future.

Honestly, I know nothing about time-travel. No one does except pan-dimensional intergalactic aliens and possibly the Queen of England. But if I choose to believe in the concept of plastic time, where my actions in the past can alter the present (and thus give birth to a hundred thousand paradoxes like the grandfather paradox), then pretty much anything is possible. Relax, I’m not going on a murderistic frenzy anytime soon (or later for that matter). It’s just that, I mess around so much here and there, my time-pollution will no doubt cause a life or two to be terminated. Maybe I ate a cookie in 1916 that would have gone on to be the life-saving cookie of a Great War soldier. Maybe a woman looks at me being cool, falls in love (at first sight) and is so infatuated that she never marries. If I hadn’t time-travelled to flaunt my gorgeous looks that women might have had 15 kids. That’s 15 lives I’ve (possibly) killed just by existing. Who knows? R.I.P 15 kids who were never born.

7) Fund a space program.

Space and time are two sides of the same coin. So it just seems fair to me that only when we can travel safely through both, can we say that we are a Type 3 Civilization. If I can travel through time, it’s basically infinite wealth for me. But I’m not going to do that, instead I’d try to harness those resources to do what NASA hasn’t yet. Seriously. Who needs money when you can do anything you want whenever you want? It’s better to keep it with regular humans who need to do things like pay mortgages and buy bananas.

10 Things I'd Do With a Time Machine, Time Travel Upamanyu Acharya Battersea Power Station Animals Pink Floyd

8) Hack mathematics and become super rich.

Everybody’s played an online game where they scream “HAAAAAAX”. Well, with a time machine you can hack into just about anything. Take Compound Interest for example. I can go back to 1780 and deposit a couple of kilos of gold at the bank, and come back in 1912 to collect my South African goldmine. It might not work in practice; banks could be looted, people could steal my fortune by assuming I’m dead and straight up deny my amassed time-warped fortune. However, there are plenty of ways you can use mathematics to your advantage when you remove time from the equation.

9) Teach important life lessons to myself without ever meeting myself.

You can notice that everything I’ve said that I’m going to do in the past will not actually stop that event from taking place. I won’t kill Hitler, I won’t destroy the pyramids, I won’t forget to create life. All these are the base of what make time travel real; you cannot change the past. I’m actually not a great believer of plastic time, though my opinion doesn’t really matter; I’m just a 14 year old with an internet blog.

Douglas Adams Quote Lunchtime

I’ve learned some pretty important things about life till now. You can’t always win. Know when to give up. Don’t put a bag of chips in the microwave. Ever. I’ll probably travel back in the past and change things ever so slightly without ever interacting with myself directly. How ever so slightly? Maybe I move my whiskey glass two inches to the left, spilling it over accidentally. When I go to pick it up I bang my head against the desk and have a Newtonian revolutionary idea. The difference could be life changing. That might be how I end up creating a time machine in the first place. Who knows?
And lastly…

10) Destroy the time machine altogether.

A time machine is a very dangerous thing.

Time Machine Time Travel BP Oil Spill 2011 Deepwater Horizon

And with its danger comes its almost infinite possibilities for exploitation. For every good use for a time machine, there are a hundred bad uses. And so, when the time is right, I shall settle in a pocket of time somewhere, sometime, where I am comfortable and destroy the only machine capable of bringing me back. That is, until, another ruggedly handsome time-traveler decides to mess up time again, or if my (future) girlfriend needs me to fix the internet.

Acknowledgements: Wikipedia and my Wi-Fi router, for working for a change.
Follow Upamanyu Acharya:

Upamanyu Acharya is a writer who doesn't write. Sometimes he's an artist, musician, photographer, physicist or lazy student. His hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is his personal blog where he writes on topics ranging from leadership skills to the consistency of jam.

One Response

  1. Sumer

    Superb Upa, you really have outdone yourself this time.

    Your theory about illusion in the beginning is a very interesting philosophy – a little more work and you could publish it.

    The Tunguska event is a really good choice – that would be awesome to watch.

    Good one

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