Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Time Bombs

                On Time Bombs

            This blog post continues earlier blog posts about time paradoxes. Here I simplify them to their technological minimum.
            Imagine, as before, that there are time-phones, capable of sending a signal to the past. Consider a Time Bomb; that is, a bomb, whose trigger signals to the bomb through a time-phone. The Time Bomb, if triggered, explodes before it was triggered. This would destroy the bomb, and the time-phone, and the trigger; therefore the bomb was not triggered; therefore it did not explode; therefore it was triggered; therefore it did explode; and so on!

Is the Time Bomb ever triggered? And does it ever explode? I know of two resolutions to the paradox: odds-bending and alternate worlds.
In the odds-bending hypothesis, the time bomb’s trigger is never pushed, no matter what.  If the trigger is otherwise easily pushed, this means that improbable events can intervene to prevent the triggering. If you set up the trigger to go off automatically unless event X happens, then this bends the odds in favor of event X. This effect has obvious technological uses. 
           In the alternate-world hypothesis, there are two parallel worlds, one in which the bomb explodes and so does not send the trigger signal to the other bomb, which doesn’t explode and does send the signal. To observers in either universe, the time bomb either explodes without signaling, or signals without exploding, seemingly at random. They can’t predict the outcome beforehand because both outcomes come true.
            Which hypothesis is correct? Or is it a mixture of the two; odds-bending up to a point of high improbability, and then alternate worlds? My own speculation is that the transition probability is about 1 in 10^100; that being the measured density of cosmic dark energy, divided by the theoretical density of vacuum energy, given quantum mechanics.
            So I speculate that the Time Bomb’s trigger almost never goes off; that strange events prevent triggering; but if events would have to be too strange, (that is, less than one chance in a googol) then the trigger goes off after all and the bomb did not explode, or the trigger does not go off but the bomb explodes; and this result at random.

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