Have I told you guys how much I love my kids?
Last night we watched this episode of the original Star Trek series (we’re taking them back through the originals.) It was a fun episode, it’s the one where Sulu (+George Takei) runs around with a pointed fencing foil like a swashbuckler, Spock (Leonard Nemoy) has his first bout with human emotions surfacing, and so on. The part that really hit my kids was the end, when they travel back in time by 71 hours because of a theoretical engineering solution to the problem of their falling into a planet.
When I pointed out to them that the Enterprise crew would be going back to before they had originally arrived at the planet, the eight year old asked, “Well, why don’t they just warn themselves not to go down to the planet?”
Oh ho ho. Well, what would have happened indeed? They (6 and 8) quickly grasped that this would be impossible, as the events that lead to their travel back in time were directly related to their landing on the planet. (They came to this conclusion on their own, so I just named it for them: paradox) Then they started to debate what could be done when going back in time, it was a great conversation. For kids that watch a lot of Doctor Who, I’m surprised this never came up. I guess the division of ‘fantasy time travel’ as opposed to ‘science fiction time travel’ is one that could be cited here. At any rate, they now have a functional understanding of temporal paradox and the Lorenz’s butterfly effect.