Time Stop (hypothetical)

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Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby TheWhiteDeath » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Being new, I'm not entirely sure if this goes here; but my friend and I got into a discussion on this at lunch the other day, and I figure if anyone will know, it'll be xkcd people.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, what are the implications of being able to control time? Rules and restrictions exist:

1. You can't change time selectively. You can either mess with everything except yourself, or nothing.
2. You can change the speed, which is to say that you can slow down, fast forward, or stop, but no rewinding.
3. The actual process of controlling time is difficult and not consistent--sometimes it'll work, sometimes it won't. You'll get better with practice, but this is assuming you've just gotten the ability.

I have some thoughts, but I'll let you go first.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:50 pm UTC

I'd much prefer a sci-fi "time stop" device. Power/limited restriction. Over "limited/confusing/broken" use. Most of the fun you could have with "time stop" becomes obsolete, or dangerous if it only sometimes works.
For example, if I try to stop a bullet, out run a car, spy on someone.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby userxp » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:37 pm UTC

It all depends on how stopping time works. The universe is made of particles that interact with other particles (let's assume classic particle physics), and can be divided in two groups: you and everything else. If you just "freeze" the particles that are not you and make them not interact, from your point of view, everything will just disappear (since you won't be able to interact with it) and you will experience severe barotrauma and die. If you freeze all the other particles but still let your particles interact with them, it will be equivalent to being inside a solid block of concrete (since the air particles will not be able to move).

In order to have useful time stop, you need air (to breathe), photons (to see) and being able to interact with things (in order to walk and move). So you need something more sophisticated than just "stopping things". Some ideas:
  • Stopping everything outside a radius of 2m from your body. You'd have a bubble of time which might work, but you'd also break many things easily (if you are exactly within 2m of a person, animal or other complex machine, only half of it will work, which is bad)
  • Stopping things gradually (speed of particles decreases proportionally to their distance from you), so you are at speed 1, things 2m from you are at speed 0.5, and things further than 10m are at speed 0 (stopped).
  • Some intelligent algorithm that stops only some particles but lets other run (air, light, solids in contact with you). This would give the best results, but it's also more difficult (though if we're talking about stopping time, there is no reason not to have magic ;-) )
  • Going "outside" the universe and watching everything from there using some interface that lets you see the world without affecting it.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:27 am UTC

Yep. Using a 5th dimension might work. You then just "move" things from this vantage point. Like how you can effect 2d worlds on paper with ease.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby idobox » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:44 am UTC

What works without all the struggle is to "simply" slow down everything but yourself by a factor between 2 and 10.
Everything gets colder, air becomes thicker, everything is red-shifted, but you can still do a bunch of things, like waving your arms at supersonic speeds.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:31 pm UTC

Or the other way. As the energy requirements to slow down the Universe are going to be huge. Just speed yourself up! Just need to get Teflon skin to cope with all that friction though. :P
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby zmatt » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

idobox wrote:What works without all the struggle is to "simply" slow down everything but yourself by a factor between 2 and 10.
Everything gets colder, air becomes thicker, everything is red-shifted, but you can still do a bunch of things, like waving your arms at supersonic speeds.


And your clothes burst into flames spectacularly to all observers and in a cool, surreal way to you. Stopping time is an interesting problem, because the concept is easy to conceive but very difficult to actually figure out.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Aelfyre » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

idobox wrote:What works without all the struggle is to "simply" slow down everything but yourself by a factor between 2 and 10.
Everything gets colder, air becomes thicker, everything is red-shifted, but you can still do a bunch of things, like waving your arms at supersonic speeds.


even simpler than that is to assume that whatever substrate they use for cognitive information processing is capable of selectively speeding its "clock speed" up significantly.. to the point that everything appears to be moving in ridiculously slow motion due to the fact that you are thinking 10000x faster than normal.. the main problems you would have to deal with at that point being the limits of your physiology's ability to move swiftly.

It would be a bit disconcerting at first being "trapped" in a body that can only move very *VERY* slowly from your internal perspective but you would have all the time in the world to take in your surroundings and react accordingly.

This would work best with a synthetic life form that has both the prerequisite inorganic cognitive information processing substrate and increased physical durability to withstand stress and move swiftly in response to stimuli.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby zmatt » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:28 pm UTC

Your post has given me an idea. Perhaps the best way to slow down or stop time, isn't to modify time at all, but instead to simply speed you up. Perhaps through, chemical, cybernetic, genetic or a combination of enhancements you could speed up the reaction and information processing speed of a human to be on par with something like a fly. In practice this would make your reflexes seem almost like precognition.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby jaap » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:19 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:Your post has given me an idea. Perhaps the best way to slow down or stop time, isn't to modify time at all, but instead to simply speed you up. Perhaps through, chemical, cybernetic, genetic or a combination of enhancements you could speed up the reaction and information processing speed of a human to be on par with something like a fly. In practice this would make your reflexes seem almost like precognition.

H.G.Wells wrote a short story with this premise: The New Accelerator (1901).
In it there is an elixir that speeds up all of the body's processes. One interesting twist was that
Spoiler:
friction with the air from moving so fast caused their clothes to heat up and smoulder.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby ikrase » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:47 pm UTC

My suggestion for it: At the instant that the Time Stop is performed, an unbreakable barrier field forms in a sphere around you. A barrier field repels objects from it's surface, with the force of repulsion increasing to infinity as distance approaches zero, and also blocks all interactions. So from your point of view, you are now in a bubble, whereas from the outside point of view a bubble forms (except nobody sees it since it is only visible to them for an instant. ) Bubble is completely indestructible, and opaque. It might, however, be movable from their point of view. You might be able to change the bubble, instantly transmuting a section of the outsider world into in-bubble world, and then move around. You could even bubble in the air, but not solid objects. At the time you let go of the Time Stop, the barrier field disappears and the changed world inside re-integrates into the world outside.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:31 am UTC

jaap wrote:
zmatt wrote:Your post has given me an idea. Perhaps the best way to slow down or stop time, isn't to modify time at all, but instead to simply speed you up. Perhaps through, chemical, cybernetic, genetic or a combination of enhancements you could speed up the reaction and information processing speed of a human to be on par with something like a fly. In practice this would make your reflexes seem almost like precognition.

H.G.Wells wrote a short story with this premise: The New Accelerator (1901).
In it there is an elixir that speeds up all of the body's processes. One interesting twist was that
Spoiler:
friction with the air from moving so fast caused their clothes to heat up and smoulder.

Darn HG Wells. He beat us all to it! Grumble...
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby zmatt » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:
jaap wrote:
zmatt wrote:Your post has given me an idea. Perhaps the best way to slow down or stop time, isn't to modify time at all, but instead to simply speed you up. Perhaps through, chemical, cybernetic, genetic or a combination of enhancements you could speed up the reaction and information processing speed of a human to be on par with something like a fly. In practice this would make your reflexes seem almost like precognition.

H.G.Wells wrote a short story with this premise: The New Accelerator (1901).
In it there is an elixir that speeds up all of the body's processes. One interesting twist was that
Spoiler:
friction with the air from moving so fast caused their clothes to heat up and smoulder.

Darn HG Wells. He beat us all to it! Grumble...


You are surprised by this? He also predicted the Apollo mission and atomic bombs if I remember correctly.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby collegestudent22 » Mon May 02, 2011 1:19 am UTC

zmatt wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:Darn HG Wells. He beat us all to it! Grumble...


You are surprised by this? He also predicted the Apollo mission and atomic bombs if I remember correctly.


He even named atomic bombs in his 1914 novel The World Set Free. However, he did not predict the Apollo mission - his travel to the moon was powered by some fanciful anti-gravity mineral.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby ikrase » Wed May 04, 2011 7:46 am UTC

Also, his atomic bombs were more like atomic thermite, or weaponized meltdowns.
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby MrConor » Thu May 19, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:You are surprised by this? He also predicted the Apollo mission and atomic bombs if I remember correctly.


He also predicted tanks and aeroplane dogfighting, if it comes to that. The man was a visionary. Now we just have to wait for artificial sentient lifeforms, time machines and personal invisibility. Looking forward to all that?
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby Technical Ben » Thu May 19, 2011 9:17 pm UTC

We could do, or get a close enough, to all of those quite soon. Except the time travel bit. Well, maybe even that, as long as you have the energies for the space we occupy. I'd not want to guess the energy required to bend space time in a big enough area to contain our entire solar system (as just reversing time on earth could allow collision with the moon, or just about any other planet).
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Re: Time Stop (hypothetical)

Postby MHD » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:49 pm UTC

I would do this: http://qntm.org/ground

(It's a sci-fi short)
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