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How could a time traveller prove that she's travelled back from the future?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ruby, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    If my MC travels back from the 21st century to the 19th century where she was born, how could she prove she'd lived in the future? She wouldn't be able to build a tv, a mobile phone, a plane, a motor car or a computer, would she?

    I've just watched the first episode of Doctor Who, where his granddaughter gets into trouble at school for mistakenly mentioning decimalisation in England years before it happened. So time travellers would appear wise beyond their years, (or crazy) but how would they prove that they are telling the truth?:confused:
     
  2. Noma Galway

    Noma Galway Archmage

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    Well, there's always showing people the apparatus that allows her to time travel, if that is possible in your story. Depending on how technologically gifted she was, she might be able to build something, but it probably wouldn't work well, if at all.
     
  3. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Yes, Noma, possibly she could; although in the Doctor Who story, once the teachers see the TARDIS, the Doctor has to take them time travelling as now they know too much.
     
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    The classic way is by knowing their future, with what's going to be in the news (or stock reports!) the next day. Which works best if you have a bit of preparation, or stay in place long enough for more general Famous Dates to come up. If you're especially persuasive you might be able to make your case with just a lot of secret knowledge ("You would have married Johnny if he hadn't died, and the pirate's treasure is hidden under the old cannon-- it all comes out in the future.").

    But time travel is just so weird an explanation that, whatever your proof is, it's hard to convince anyone that it's the real reason behind it; "genius," "psychic," "spy," and other things are always a simpler answer. Taking someone through time may be the only real way.
     
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  5. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Thank you, wordwalker. In that case the time traveller would either have to have brought her notebook back with her or have a photographic memory; unless we're dealing with short term time travel into the future, say to see who wins a match or find the winning lottery numbers.
    Conversely, I think when she moves into the future that's going to be a huge culture shock for her, too!
    I remember a comedian once telling a joke about someone who'd gone back in time and who was boasting about all the things in the future. The joke was that he described all these amazing technological things, but when challenged to make them he didn't know how, so no one believed him! :(
     
  6. DassaultMirage

    DassaultMirage Minstrel

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    Doubting Thomas: How do I know you're--
    Time Traveller: I have seen in my time travels that you will doubt me, and in about five seconds you will fart but before that let me show you this machine blablabla faaaaaaaaart
     
  7. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    :) Very amusing, DassaultMirage. But this would only apply to short term time travel. If you were away for 100 years, you would have better evidence.
     
  8. Braveface

    Braveface Scribe

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    Speech would give it away, I'd reckon. Phrases you just wouldn't hear in the 19th Century but could be said totally naturally by someone from the present day.

    I've just finished Stephen King's 11/22/63 which manages to keep the cat in the bag until pretty late on.
     
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  9. Braveface

    Braveface Scribe

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    Why can't they take anything with them?
     
  10. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    She probably wouldn't have the skill to "build" something that complex, but that is assuming she didn't build the time machine itself... If she did, a car wouldn't be a problem. You could easily write a chemical formula (say for plastic or urethane, ammonia chloride) on your hand and simply give it to chemists of the era.

    Another aspect is that it is assumed the time travel device works only on living matter like the human body; but if that was the case, you'd enter the future naked since non-living matter (including clothing) wouldn't transfer. I would think that's not the case and it would be relatively simple to bring back a souvenir watch or newspaper with the date on it (though that could be argued that you printed it on a period printing press and made up the stories.). If you want something that could potentially change the future, then perhaps a blueprint for something that hasn't been invented yet; something without electronic parts (since that would unlikely they'd be able to replicate it using period materials) like an older model car (50s or 60s) a firearm or whatever.
     
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  11. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Why would she want to prove it? Proving her origin could in fact change the future history and she might not have a home to return to if she did it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. Braveface

    Braveface Scribe

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    She should kill her own grand-father. That'd show 'em.
     
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  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    And what would happen then? She'd vanish in a puff of logic?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  14. Hedwig2751

    Hedwig2751 New Member

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    I'd suggest that before you think of any of these details you should give more thought to how time traveling works in your story. What you can and can't do are the most important things you should work on. There's a system to everything, and creating one for time traveling would give you a solution to your problem.

    Taking objects back and forth through time could have dangerous consequences. Imagine that someone came to you one day to give you a necklace, telling you that if you twist the stone while wearing it the color of your clothes would change. You might not believe him and laugh and chuck the necklace at him or you might be skeptical yet curious and try it on. Sure, that'd be a perfect way to prove that he is from the future, but then what? Someone else is bound to find out about the necklace, and if one person could, others could, too, and after some time, too many people would know and the secret would be out. Eventually, someone would kidnap the man who gave you the necklace and begin interrogating him endlessly, which might not serve the time-traveler well. They'd ask how to make the necklace and the man wouldn't know, so they'd want him to show them how to get more, which would force him to reveal his time traveling. I mean, you could write an entire story just about that!

    If I were you, I'd just stick to having the MC befriending one character that the MC would tell him/her the truth but saying that they couldn't explain, or just keeping the whole thing a secret, one that the person you're trying to convince is going to find out on their own at a later time...
     
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  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think the only way you could prove it absolutely would be to take someone into the future so they could see for themselves.
     
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Braveface, I hadn't heard of this book and just read a synopsis on the internet.(That's another book for my "to read" list.) I think that you make an interesting point about speech. I'm aware now that I've been making the middle class Victorian characters speak in a very formal style to fit the period, while the lower class characters, eg servants, are coming out mostly cockneys :) Thanks for this prompt. I think it should be noticeable when my MC time travels into the future that her speech is odd. Apparently, Stephen King, wanted to write this particular time travel book for years but delayed it as time travel is a difficult concept.
     
  17. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi, Saigonnus. No, she didn't build the time machine. She gets tricked into travelling into the future. But I've seen a tv series recently called Crime Travellers in which the rule is that you can't change time. If someone bets on a race because they know the result, when they go back in time the betting slip is blank and void.

    I suppose she could bring a photograph, or would that become blank, too?
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
  18. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Steerpike, this is actually what happens to her when she is taken into the future by another time traveller.
     
  19. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Ah, so you're saying she must not tell anyone... There seem to be as many differing "rules" of time travel as there are paradoxes.:confused:
     
  20. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I solved this one yesterday, when it transpired that the time traveller had previously time travelled with his grandfather. This wasn't planned: the characters just revealed it. Please don't tell me this isn't allowed!:confused:
     
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