Sunday, January 11
#2 - time machine
A great uncle of yours recently passed away. He was independently wealthy and nobody you know can manage to tell you what exactly he did with his time. Though most of your extended family considered him a little crazy, the two of you always got along well.
In his will, your uncle leaves you the remnants of one of his "science projects", delivered to you in a large crate. Upon inspection, you find a time machine inside.
It is a single-passenger device capable of transporting you to any time or place (the user sets the date and location). Besides your own person, the machine has enough room to accommodate two medium-sized duffel bags. Also in the crate is a sort of manual left by your uncle. It contains general usage instructions, assurances that the device is fully safe and operational, and a few caveats about the machine. They are as follows:
1) While in another time period, you will not have the ability to alter significant historical events.
2) On a related note, your uncle also advises you not to travel to any time in which there is a high likelihood of encountering yourself. He cites space-time continuum concerns.
3) The machine's battery is solar powered, but needs a full year to recharge after jumping. In essence, if you choose to time travel, you are committing to at least a year in that time.
4) To return to the present day, you simply press a large red button on the dashboard once seated in the machine. This will not take you back to the day you originally left. Rather, your return date will be determined by the date of your departure plus the length of time you spent in the past or future. For instance, if you leave in January of 2009 to spend two years studying under Socrates, you will return in January of 2011. There is no way for you to regain the two "lost" years in the present day. While you cannot grasp all of the theory behind it, your uncle includes a great deal of math in this section of the manual explaining why this is.
Based on this information, what do you do with the time machine?
Please note, travel to distant times and/or places would present cultural challenges that would likely require preparation in advance of the trip. In the example above, showing up in ancient Greece as an English speaker in blue jeans might very well lead to a fruitless (or possibly even dangerous) year.
Posted by Matt at 3:01 PM