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Do Time Travellers Age?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ruby, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I have a question about the rules of Time Travel in a Fantasy novel. I want my MC, who is 16, to time travel from the end of the 19th century to the second half of the 20th century. She gets stuck in the future for many years until she is an old lady. She then manages to return to her original time. When she returns would she now be an old lady or would she revert to her original age of 16?
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    The "convention" is that the time traveller's chronology is linear to them, if not to anyone else... so they can dart about as they want and only their personal time passes.
    If they did age [+ve or -ve] as they move through time, then won't they be stuck in their own life span, even if they could "re-live" their life anew... they could be friends with themselves at school...:p
    I think it would make an interesting device and would also make my ears bleed trying to keep it all straight.
    That said, you can make the rules up as you want, as long as you are consistent.
     
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  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    She would still be an old lady, by conventional thinking. If you want to make her young again when she goes back, you can, but I think you need to provide some explanation as to why things aren't following the normal linear progression of time from her perspective.
     
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  4. There's plenty of stories that use each mechanism, although the first one (your body continues aging normally from your perspective no matter how much time travel you undergo) is more common, mainly because it makes more intuitive sense.

    There's nothing wrong with the "reverts to a younger body" trope, although if your body reverts, why wouldn't your mind, causing you to forget everything that happened? In essence, it would be as if the time travel, from your perspective, had never occurred, which would sort of defeat the purpose.
     
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  5. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Thank you CupofJoe. I understand your first point that, say a character moved forward a hundred years, they would not age a hundred years but at a normal rate. However, I'm not sure if I understand your second point. Are you saying that while the character was time travelling there could be another "self" who was continuing to live her life in the 19th Century. So there would be a kind of schizophrenic parallel universe?
     
  6. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    The way Doctor Who explained it was that you could view yourself but not change your own actions, if memory serves. I think each additional "you" that was in a given time strained the timeline... two was okay, three was definitely dangerous, and I don't think they ever went to four, so we don't know what happened.
     
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  7. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    It's not time travel, but in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the kids grow to adulthood in Narnia but revert to kids when they come back. This is 100% author's choice. If you wanted to, you could even have time travels stop aging the moment they travel or only age while in their home time period. There was one book that I really liked which did the whole "only age in home time period" thing.

    As for what Ben said about forgeting due to reverting, I don't think that's too necessary. It's pretty common with writers and readers to treat the mind and the body as two separate things; even if the prince gets turned into a frog, he is still able to think like a prince (with a few froggy influences of course) despite not nearly having enough brain space for it.
     
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  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Unless you split into separate timelines, I think you end up with paradoxes, though. Not sure there's any other way around it.
     
  9. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    I don't remember the episode(s) where that happened, but that's not surprising, considering how many years the Doctor has been traipsing around time. :D
     
  10. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    I think what Cup was saying is that you could live your life until you're an old man then travel back to earlier in your life so you de-age so you'd have the original you and the older you who traveled backwards and was de-aged living in the same time frame.

    As for causing a paradox by having two of you in the same place, well that depends entirely on the internal rules of time travel and even with Doctor Who it depended mostly on who was writing the episode. Personally I think the whole paradox excuse is mostly 'cuz it can get really confusing really fast.
     
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  11. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Steerpike. Yes. It would make more sense if she remained old. But then, say she returned to the moment after she left and suddenly metamorphosed into an old lady, well, that would be scary. (A bit like the young girl who suddenly becomes an old hag in Lost Horizon.) If she stayed young, however, for a hundred years, she would need to use some kind of magic, I suppose.
     
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  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Dr. Who is full of paradoxes and inconsistencies. It's best to just forget about them and enjoy the show. There were only a few things that outright bugged me, like WWII-planes flying around space as though it had an atmosphere, or River Song being cast out unprotected into open space and staying alive long enough to be saved.
     
  13. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    That's true... it's still a fun show despite the problems caused by different screenwriters.
     
  14. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Benjamin Clayborne. I think she would have to remember otherwise it would be like an annoying, " and it was just a dream" type of story. I think in most of the time travel literature I've read, the time traveller is not away that long, so no one remarks on his aged appearance. However, come to think of it, how would anyone know how long he's been away?:confused:
     
  15. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi GeekDavid, I didn't know that about Dr Who. Of course, he overcomes the problem of ageing by regenerating into a totally different body every couple of series. Although, I suppose we're all doing that anyway over our normal lifetimes. ( Hey, just thought of that, quite philosophical really.) But I don't know if I'd use Dr Who as a guide because there was a paradox in the recent "tv special" where they had the 3 TARDIS time machines in the same place at the same time, and why did he marry Elizabeth I?:confused:
     
  16. My personal opinion is that from the perspective of the traveller, they would live a linear life. What we call aging is a breakdown of DNA replication, where free radicals degrade the process, similar to how photo copy of a photo copy of a photo copy eventually leads to a lesser version. Unless the traveler is exposed to something that changes that progression, and they are physically moving through time, they wouldn't de-age or accelerate in age based on where in the timeline they are. If they were jumping into their body at that point in time on a psionic level, then I would say they would experience that effect.
     
  17. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Queshire. I'm glad you mentioned the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I must admit I find it odd that the four children lived their lives as adults in Narnia for years and then one day returned home to the moment they left, reverting to being children once again.
    I like your explanation about the prince and the frog.
    My MC is a wizard, so maybe she could do something to delay ageing. Do you think it's ok to mix SF with magic?
     
  18. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

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    I expect them to age, so the now old lady has return to her time but she is still old. I would accept, and find interesting if when she traveled to the future, let's say, 50 years, she aged those 50 years. Once she is back to her original time, it would make perfect sense to be young again.

    That would create a few limits, you may try to travel far from your age span and just die in the process or cease to exist if you return to before you were born.
    Also, if you have things like destiny and fate, a 20 year old woman fated to die at 30 but who travel those 50 years might create a quite interesting conflict.

    Edit:
    Just to add, I would also be perfectly fine with the idea of only aging in the original time line. So the girl travel 50 years into the future, lives for 300 years, than go back to her time, resume her aging.
     
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  19. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    There's no problem with mixing sci-fi with magic, and, hell, I don't know why more people don't do it! If any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic then magic ought to be indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology. Why not have a space ship powered by prayer or something?
     
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  20. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I will give my answer before readin replies.

    The human body lives in the now. So every day that the body pumps day is one day, never to be retrieved.
    If time travel back makes you younger, then time travel into the future would make you older. So you could not travel outside your life time and who knows how far into the future you could go before you died?

    IMO the device that takes the body back and forth in time would not affect the body. Ie if you live an average of 70 years you could travel back and forth endlessly but the time you do live, no matter what time period, you have used up that time of your life.
    Example:
    At 16 she travels to the past and can't come back until the problem is fixed. She would have used up the time the body can live in the past, so there is nothing the machine can do to give the person more life. She could travel back or forward in time but she would still be an old lady.
    There could be the negitive effect on the body such as aging twice, or ten times the amount of time it actually takes to travel through time. Say it takes 10 hours to time travel to the period you want, so you could age 20 hours or 200 hours in body time. Making it hard on the body to travel through time.

    But that said, when she met the person that can fix the time machine, they could travel back and give her the fixed time machine back then and an alternate person could travel back to the future. But that would be a different person, because the person had to be there to tell what happened to break the machine.
    But maybe the person coming back changes time and they are killed in the change? They can't be two places at the same time so they negate themselves.

    The hazards of time travel.
     
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