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Whill
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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 12:18 am    Post subject: Time Travel Reply with quote

I didn't want the subject of time travel to derail a thread about Star Wars films that most likely will not involve time travel, so I created a new thread down here in Miscellanea.

I'm a fan of time travel stories, but often disappointed by them because there are more bad ones than good ones out there. A few years back, I wrote an "essay" on time travel in Star Trek (which is a mixed bag). And I watched a bunch of time travel movies I hadn't seen before and mini-reviewed them.

For the sake of discussion, time naturally moves in the forward direction so I do not consider stories only involving one-way journeys to the future to be "time travel" stories. "Time Travel" is going against nature and traveling to the past, whether it involves traveling to the future beforehand or afterward.

Sutehp wrote:
Time travel might be appropriate in some sci-fi stories but it does not belong in space opera.

Star Trek is technically Space Opera too, but it is more sci-fi-ish than Star Wars for sure. But I agree on the more raw, pure Space Opera like Star Wars films. Time travel would probably completely break genre, and undoing one specific movie would just be bad form no matter how much we disliked said movie.

cheshire wrote:
The sci-fi that deals with it best is the one that just sort of revels in the fact that it doesn't make sense, and they can just have fun with it.

I would put Back to the Future in that category. Time travel is wonky and works inconsistently, but the movies are well made and a lot of fun.

Sutehp wrote:
Most time travel stories annoy me because no one seems to agree on how time travel works, whether you are actually changing the past and thus the future of the original timeline or whether you create an alternate universe entirely when you travel to the past and "change" it.

It is true that time travel works differently in different stories, but it shouldn't have to work the same in different franchises. Time travel is fictional in all of them so there is no one universal way to handle time travel. One consideration for time travel stories is if the rules for time travel are internally consistent or not.

Star Trek, being the massive franchise that it is, has a couple time travel episodes in every season of every series, plus handful of movies with time travel. Time travel does not work the same way in every story, so Star Trek has about every kind of time travel ever imagined and different methods of time travel have different rules. Trek has time travel episodes that are internally consistent for that episode, but it also has individual episodes that are not consistent.

Before even your question of how time travel works is whether the past can be changed or is it the "destiny" time travel where the time travel was always destined to happen and nothing can be changed. This is akin to, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don't like these stories because it means free will is illusion and there never really was any drama because it all happened exactly the way it was always supposed to. Trek has some of those. They even made a joke about that in the DS9 episode where they went back to "The Trouble With Tribbles" (One of the temporal investigators said something like, "Don't say that. We hate it when people say that.")

Destiny preserves causation, but I hate it. An example of destiny time travel in Trek was the TNG story with Data's severed head being found before he even went back in time and it got cut off. He was destined to go back in time. And when Mark Twain got pulled into the future, Ryker still knew who he was, when the only way that would be possible is if he was destined to eventually go back to his tome, complete his works, and make history that matched what was in the Enterprise databanks and Ryker's memories. Then there was that one totally messed up movie where this guy became his own father and mother, and a future version of himself was the bad guy!

Probably the norm in Star Trek, and time travel in general, is that things can be changed in the past that effect your future. There is a single timeline that can be altered, like recording over the existing audio on a cassette tape. These stories can involve accidental time travel and/or an antagonist wants to change the past, and the protagonist has to preserve the original timeline or get things back on course. These stories can also involve the protagonist intentionally time traveling to prevent or undo something horrible that happened. The new timeline is technically an altered timeline, but it is close enough.

Star Trek: The Voyage Home is like this. Two whales disappeared before being killed and the whaling ship crew saw a UFO. Two garbage men saw something weird in Golden Gate park but never told anyone about it. The cetacean institute specialist disappeared (I think the novelization even suggested Gillian might have wrecked her truck while crying and killed herself, if she hadn't helped Kirk save the whales and travelled to the future with them.) The Russian guy who was mortally wounded escaping from the nuclear vessel disappeared from the hospital. An old lady miraculously grew a new kidney and lived longer. An extra pair of broken 18th century glasses were left in 1986. Scotty gives the formula for transparent aluminum to the guy who his history recorded had invented it, so Earth gets is slightly sooner. The timeline has changed but not in any significant way. It still leads to the future we see in Star Trek and Kirk's time travel to the past, thus becoming a stable loop of causation.

I've also thought of things that time travel stories don't usually address, like in the altered timeline leading to the original events in the TVH film, shouldn't there then be two birds of prey in 1986, the original one orphaned from their original timeline and the new one that repeats it, the duplication possibly causing a change to the original time travel that might make the loop unstable? That would be a mess so it would seem for simplicity's sake the altered timeline's bird of prey destroys and replaces the original in the time warp, and then each subsequent loop replaces the prior one, so there is still only one bird of prey in the past and stability. Another thing I've thought of is, What if a destiny time travel story could be interpreted as actually just not not showing us the original time travel where changes are made, but instead showing us a stable loop where the altered timeline still leads to the time travel. It might seem like the time travel was destined to happen and the time traveler actions in the past were "always" a part of timeline. That couldn't explain all destiny time travel stories, but might work for some. Like with Data's head in the past, it could be that there was a different course of events that we never saw that lead to that, and then what we see happen is the second (and all subsequent) time loop. It still doesn't make it an entertaining story for me though.

Most of these stories allow you to undo yourself, meaning you could kill yourself or prevent your birth, but that would not cause a paradox. In this model, if I went back and accidentally killed my grandfather before my father was born, and then went back to my original present time, I would be in an altered timeline where no one knew me, but time-traveling me would still exist because I was protected by my existence back in the time of the alteration. I would just be orphaned from the original chain of events that lead to me originally existing and going back to make the alternation. This type of time travel can also allow time travel "duplicates" to be made. Say one morning I went back in time to last night and told myself not to time travel tomorrow. Then we both went to sleep and woke up in the morning, and neither one of us time traveled again. There would be two of me, the original me that time traveled and the one who didn't. No, it is counterintuitive because time only flows in one direction (at least in human experience). But it makes time travel stories possible.

Then you've got the time travel where any alteration in the past creates alternate timelines/universes that both exist simultaneously. Causation is preserved because the original timeline still leads to you going back in time, and the alterations diverge from that timeline. This is what Star Trek used for the recent film series to explain how the new reality and the original reality both still exist. You would think that once you go back and then live in this the divergence you would be orphaned from your original timeline/universe, but if the franchise/world/story includes jumping from universe to universe, then you may be able to exist in a divergent branch of reality and still get back to the original timeline.

Then you've got what I'll call Looper time travel here, which is not because Looper started it but because it was Rian Johnson, and it seems internally consistent within that film in my initial analysis of that film. It is like parts of Back to the Future where undoing your own existence causes you to slowly fade away from that moment in the past that is changing the future. It doesn't prevent you from going back in the first place, creating a paradox that cycles back and forth. It doesn't change anything that lead you to that moment of the change, but from that moment, you change to reflect your alteration. A guy was cutting body parts off the present self of a future guy who had traveled to that past. The body parts just disappeared from the future older self's body before his eyes as he was trying to reach the butcher and stop him from doing what he was doing to his younger past self. Even if handled consistently in the film, it really doesn't make any sense, so I'm not a fan.

Then you've got time travel movies that mix the types of time travel and have inconsistent rules, like where characters who time travel get to the present to find that some things they did in the past were always a part of the timeline they came from before they went back in time and did them, but other things were changed. It's a rare story that has multiple sets of time travel rules in it and I still enjoy it.

But I guess my main point is that you should not hold the fact that time travel works differently in different stories against all time travel stories. That's throwing the baby Luke out with the bacta bath water. Unrelated stories shouldn't have to work the same way. Now if they are certain kinds of time travel stories that you categorically dislike, I can certainly understand not liking those stories, but that still isn't all time travel stories.
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TauntaunScout
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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a series of views on time travel like I do everything.

I go on the idea that time as we perceive it is the entirety of the universe moving from a more ordered to a less ordered state. Since there's no way to get enough energy to move your entire universe into a more ordered state, backwards time travel is impossible.

But if it were possible:

Paradoxes are impossible. No matter how hard you tried to kill your own grandparents, you'd fail. Altering the future and thus creating new universes (which is what you're doing by creating a new timeline) is probably impossible. It's like a Greek prophecy in reverse or something. All your actions to try to create a paradox would add up to instead contributing to the creation of the time you came from.

But I liked a lot of time travel movies. Such as:

The Back to the Future movies

Many aspects of the Terminator movies

Quantum Leap

Army of Darkness
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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's true. From an energy standpoint, altering the past to create multiple divergent universes is absurd. One person travelling in time can create a duplicate universe out of whole cloth put way too much power into the actions of a mere mortal.

What if there are already infinite parallel dimensions and universes? If you travel in time and change something (assuming that the act of time travelling itself doesn't alter events, but I'm trying to steer clear of Shroedinger). So events are altered, according to your memory. Now you go back, but you don't arrive in your original timeline, but in a parallel one in which the events you changed had already occurred.

Just a thought supporting the 'you can't change your own past' idea. Mostly, time travel makes my head hurt. Unless it's like Timecop. That was a cool movie. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:


Just a thought supporting the 'you can't change your own past' idea. Mostly, time travel makes my head hurt. Unless it's like Timecop. That was a cool movie. Smile


Like in Futurama when Fry went back in time, slept with a young woman and accidentally became his own grandfather?
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2019 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
l.

What if there are already infinite parallel dimensions and universes? If you travel in time and change something (assuming that the act of time travelling itself doesn't alter events, but I'm trying to steer clear of Shroedinger). So events are altered, according to your memory. Now you go back, but you don't arrive in your original timeline, but in a parallel one in which the events you changed had already occurred.



Personally I support this view;
Multiverse; Infinite realities. Time travelling is actually reality-hopping to the universe that reflects the things you changed.

Of course this does absolutely destroy the concept of free will.
Whatever you do, there is a version of you that did the opposite and every shade of action in between.

Man, that's depressing to think about.
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2019 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"Time Travel" is going against nature and traveling to the past... Time travel is fictional...
TauntaunScout wrote:
...backwards time travel is impossible.

Roger.

TauntaunScout wrote:
Paradoxes are impossible. No matter how hard you tried to kill your own grandparents, you'd fail. Altering the future and thus creating new universes (which is what you're doing by creating a new timeline) is probably impossible. It's like a Greek prophecy in reverse or something. All your actions to try to create a paradox would add up to instead contributing to the creation of the time you came from.

For that to be the case, that would mean the universe would have some built-in complex mechanism in place to prevent any attempts from time travelers to create paradoxes. A much simpler mechanism would be time only moving in one direction thus disallowing time travel in the first place.

From a fiction dramatic perspective, time travel stories with your universal mechanism could still be interesting in those cases where changes can be made just not a changes that cause paradoxes, but that mechanism entering the story in the form of failed attempts to create paradoxes would still seem pointless to me in story.

Since you seemed to speaking to if time travel is actually real, sure I'd love to go back and see things like witnessing myself watching ANH for the first time, seeing Led Zeppelin in concert, seeing the pyramids being built, etc. I like to imagine that history can be changed but changing things to prevent or undo something bad could have unforeseeable negative side effects and end up making things worse, like when McCoy saved Joan Collins and it ended up resulting in millions more people dying in WWII than had died before. It's not healthy to dwell on the past and experience regret so my time travel fantasies mostly only involve observing history, not changing it.

Pel wrote:
From an energy standpoint, altering the past to create multiple divergent universes is absurd. One person travelling in time can create a duplicate universe out of whole cloth put way too much power into the actions of a mere mortal.

What if there are already infinite parallel dimensions and universes? If you travel in time and change something (assuming that the act of time travelling itself doesn't alter events, but I'm trying to steer clear of Shroedinger). So events are altered, according to your memory. Now you go back, but you don't arrive in your original timeline, but in a parallel one in which the events you changed had already occurred.

Just a thought supporting the 'you can't change your own past' idea.

I would tend to agree, but ultimately the mechanism behind the alternate realities type of time travel (whether the realities are newly created or preexisting) would probably never matter to a time travel story of that nature. In my personal interpretation of the Star Trek 09 time travel, since things sucked into the 'red matter black holes' go back in time, I like to think that the supernova first went back to the dawn of time and sparked the big bang that created the alternate reality as just one more universe in an infinite multiverse, then when Nero's ship went through to that now existing alternate universe it went through to Kirk's birth year, and Spock's ship went through to an even more recent year in that universe. But operationally, the time travel still works the same.

However, even in less cosmic time travel stories, the alternate realities model doesn't have to require massive energy to create divergent realities if it is an inherent aspect of reality is a multiplicity of alternate realities/divergent timelines.

Pel wrote:
Mostly, time travel makes my head hurt.

As much as I've thought about it, I've experienced this at times. After seeing the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes I remember going online to research to wrap my head completely around the ending. The DVD came with a handy diagram. There's a low budget film called Primer, which I would call a thinking man's time travel movie. I don't think I've ever completely wrapped my head around it, but I liked it.

TauntaunScout wrote:
Like in Futurama when Fry went back in time, slept with a young woman and accidentally became his own grandfather?

That's a good one.
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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
As much as I've thought about it, I've experienced this at times. After seeing the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes I remember going online to research to wrap my head completely around the ending.


It's much closer to the book than anything else that's ever been done.

Happy Accidents was a different sort of time travel movie.
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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the time being I try to avoid any time travel in my games as no rules have been established for it "in universe". I do not want mishmash of trek theories which vary from episode to episode.

Still one type on "time travel" I allow. Going to the future.

One option is via high sub light. Typical average speed, based on the chart presented in RAW, is approx. 0.4 c. Once you go like 0.9+ time dilatation factor gives some real effect. This was presented nicely in Forever War novel.

Other type is orbiting near some strong gravity source like in Interstellar.
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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darklighter79 wrote:
For the time being I try to avoid any time travel in my games as no rules have been established for it "in universe". I do not want mishmash of trek theories which vary from episode to episode.

Still one type on "time travel" I allow. Going to the future.

One option is via high sub light. Typical average speed, based on the chart presented in RAW, is approx. 0.4 c. Once you go like 0.9+ time dilatation factor gives some real effect. This was presented nicely in Forever War novel.

Other type is orbiting near some strong gravity source like in Interstellar.


Don't forget the "Slow Path" method of time travel: jump into a cryo tube and just sleep the years away until the future arrives. What could possibly go wrong?
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darklighter79 wrote:
Forever War novel.


One of the most enjoyable and engaging books I've ever read!

In a non-starwars game I introduced a sort of time travel.
It was an occult investigation type game.

The players were looking for a missing man and encountered a cursed / Magic VCR.
When using it to watch a VHS movie, when the VCR clock got to a specific time whoever was watching the film got transported to the moment that particular scene was being filmed. Like...right there behind the camera man.

From there they could interact with anyone or everyone...leave the set, or the area where it was being filmed, go anywhere they wanted and do anything they wanted.

Meanwhile, back in the 'real' world the tape continued to play. When it reaches the end...the person(s) in the alternate reality got zapped out.

The VHS tape would then rewind.

Every time they went in, everything was reset. 'Groundhog day' style.

I left it a complete mystery in a lot of areas, but my players deduced that it wasn't actually a real place; it was somehow a full snapshot of reality had been recorded at that time, by who or for what reason was unknown.
But this recording was 100% accurate.

They used it as a form of reconnaissance. They couldn't change the past permanently or alter their present with this kind of time travel...but they could find a movie that was filmed in a certain time and set the VCR clock to activate during a certain scene if they knew where that scene had been filmed, then they could go and spy on some event they knew had happened and wanted more info about.

Or break in to someplace...kill everyone if necessary to get to read some secret documents or whatever....and no real harm done, but they obtained the info.

Long story short, something like this could be a function of a Holocron.

Allow someone to enter into a fully interactive mental simulation of a long-ago time and place, with everyone reacting exactly as the real versions would have.
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me be frank (and in Chicago I can be Earnest): There's already time travel in Star Wars. Any FTL travel is, by definition, time travel. We just tend to forget that part.

Time travel to the future is also already achieved in Star Wars - there's an incident with a hyperdrive that makes an Old Republic era character end up in a "now" 200 years later - and there's also Dreypa's Oubliette. Or even the carbonite Sith army, or Star's End for that matter.

Personally, I prefer the Novikov self-consistency principle. It seems to solve most of the possible paradoxes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novikov_self-consistency_principle
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 10:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Time Travel Reply with quote

TauntaunScout wrote:
Whill wrote:
the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes

It's much closer to the book than anything else that's ever been done.

As someone who has read the book (English translation) and seen every PotA movie, I would agree with that overall. The book was pretty good but the escape was extremely disappointing because the author literally just had a single sentence along the lines of, 'The escape was daring and exciting' without detailing it at all. I'm not a big Tim Burton fan in general but his PotA movie is my favorite of them all.

Whill wrote:
For the sake of discussion, time naturally moves in the forward direction so I do not consider stories only involving one-way journeys to the future to be "time travel" stories. "Time Travel" is going against nature and traveling to the past, whether it involves traveling to the future beforehand or afterward.

Sutehp wrote:
Don't forget the "Slow Path" method of time travel: jump into a cryo tube and just sleep the years away until the future arrives.

Darklighter79 wrote:
Still one type on "time travel" I allow. Going to the future.

One option is via high sub light. Typical average speed, based on the chart presented in RAW, is approx. 0.4 c. Once you go like 0.9+ time dilatation factor gives some real effect. This was presented nicely in Forever War novel.

Other type is orbiting near some strong gravity source like in Interstellar.

By that definition, we real people here on Earth are all time travelers. Time is always moving forward. Time dilation is still moving forward through time, just a different rate than planetary time like we experience in our every day lives. Suspended animation just slows down aging, but you still only wake up in the future, not the past. The OP was meant to be about stories involving time travel to the past.

I love Interstellar. But even with the time dilation it also has some sci-fi "time travel" to the past in it, like how the construct inside the black hole allowed Matthew McConaughey to communicate with and effect the past.

Darklighter79 wrote:
For the time being I try to avoid any time travel in my games as no rules have been established for it "in universe". I do not want mishmash of trek theories which vary from episode to episode.

It is inevitable that this discussion would venture into time travel in the RPG, so I should mention that there was a thread for that: Time Travel in the SW RPG.
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:
In a non-starwars game I introduced a sort of time travel.
It was an occult investigation type game.

The players were looking for a missing man and encountered a cursed / Magic VCR.
When using it to watch a VHS movie, when the VCR clock got to a specific time whoever was watching the film got transported to the moment that particular scene was being filmed. Like...right there behind the camera man.

From there they could interact with anyone or everyone...leave the set, or the area where it was being filmed, go anywhere they wanted and do anything they wanted.

Meanwhile, back in the 'real' world the tape continued to play. When it reaches the end...the person(s) in the alternate reality got zapped out.

The VHS tape would then rewind.

Every time they went in, everything was reset. 'Groundhog day' style.

I left it a complete mystery in a lot of areas, but my players deduced that it wasn't actually a real place; it was somehow a full snapshot of reality had been recorded at that time, by who or for what reason was unknown.
But this recording was 100% accurate.

They used it as a form of reconnaissance. They couldn't change the past permanently or alter their present with this kind of time travel...but they could find a movie that was filmed in a certain time and set the VCR clock to activate during a certain scene if they knew where that scene had been filmed, then they could go and spy on some event they knew had happened and wanted more info about.

Or break in to someplace...kill everyone if necessary to get to read some secret documents or whatever....and no real harm done, but they obtained the info.

Long story short, something like this could be a function of a Holocron.

Allow someone to enter into a fully interactive mental simulation of a long-ago time and place, with everyone reacting exactly as the real versions would have.

That's a really cool idea. I can see that as a function of Holocron. It's kinda like a holodeck recreation. It's also kinda like the time travel where you can't change anything in the past because it just creates an alternate time timeline/reality, but then you can go back to your original timeline that remains unchanged based on the original way it happened without time travel. But the difference is with your idea is that you couldn't bring anything from the holocron into the present real world, because it is just a simulation.

My campaign is going to have a Force PC whose primary power is postcognition. I hadn't thought of it being interactive though. That probably should remain the domain of a holocron.
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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarn wrote:
There's already time travel in Star Wars. Any FTL travel is, by definition, time travel. We just tend to forget that part.

For all intents and purposes, not really. See the above posts. FTL is traveling impossible distances for the amount of time spent, but you do not ever come out of hyperspace before you enter it. Time still only moves forward. What's more, FTL prevents time dilation, so traveling faster than the speed of light has a planetary experience of time while traveling under but near the speed of light (which almost never happens in Star Wars) would still have real world time dilation.

Whill wrote:
TauntaunScout wrote:
Paradoxes are impossible. No matter how hard you tried to kill your own grandparents, you'd fail. Altering the future and thus creating new universes (which is what you're doing by creating a new timeline) is probably impossible. It's like a Greek prophecy in reverse or something. All your actions to try to create a paradox would add up to instead contributing to the creation of the time you came from.

For that to be the case, that would mean the universe would have some built-in complex mechanism in place to prevent any attempts from time travelers to create paradoxes. A much simpler mechanism would be time only moving in one direction thus disallowing time travel in the first place.

From a fiction dramatic perspective, time travel stories with your universal mechanism could still be interesting in those cases where changes can be made just not a changes that cause paradoxes, but that mechanism entering the story in the form of failed attempts to create paradoxes would still seem pointless to me in story.

Zarn wrote:
Personally, I prefer the Novikov self-consistency principle. It seems to solve most of the possible paradoxes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novikov_self-consistency_principle

Yep. This principle would likely seem pointless to me in a work of fiction, and a more likely principle to prevent paradoxes would be to not have time travel at all, but what would the fun of that?
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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any FTL drive violates causality. Therefore, time travel. That your own, local sequence of events is well established doesn't really matter, as far as I can tell.

This blog explains it better than I can:

http://www.physicsmatt.com/blog/2016/8/25/why-ftl-implies-time-travel

The most important segment: "If we could just say that there was only one frame of reference where we needed to set up cause and effect, then we could have FTL without worrying about causality. However, there is no special frame of reference, there cannot be one if relativity is to be true. And relativity is true, because we all measure light to travel at the same speed (also, you need relativity for electromagnetism to work, which you probably do want)."
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