Monday, 18 March 2013

Backwards In Time?

James Blish's The Triumph Of Time, IN Cities In Flight (London, 1981) informs us that, when mid-twentieth century experimental physicists produced a few atoms of anti-matter that lasted for "...a few millionths of a micro-second...," the apparent production of these atoms was really their destruction and vice versa because the direction of their duration was the reverse of ours.

I thought that I had detected a contradiction in Blish's account because he states, first, that the "...atoms proved to be non-viable beyond a few millionths of a micro-second..." and, secondly, that "...the particles of which they were made were born...some micro-seconds in the future..." (p. 510)

So does the anti-matter exist for "...some micro-seconds..." or for only "...a few millionths of a micro-second..."? However, Blish seems to mean that the physicists observed anti-material atoms decaying, after a few millionths of a micro-second, into anti-material particles that they continued to observe for a few full micro-seconds?

The inter-universal probe has at its center a crystal of anti-salt of which we are told that it:

"...was already minus two weeks "young" and had yet a week to go...before it would collide with the flying instant of the present and decay..." (p. 555)

This is a rather confusing account. The present instant does not "fly" anywhere. Each instant is seen as the present by any conscious being existing in that instant. If, as we usually say, an object is two weeks old and has a week to go, then it began to exist two weeks ago and will cease to exist one week hence. Since this crystal is anti-matter, Blish seems to mean that it was destroyed one week ago and will be produced two weeks hence?

When, immediately after the moment of the cosmic collision, each of the "Survivors" enters his own four dimensional space, will he be accompanied by any of the furniture from the room in which they were waiting? No, the scientists, wanting to create new universes only from the matter of their own bodies, will push the furniture a micro-second into the past, presumably by temporarily transforming it into anti-matter? (We are told that it will be done by " '...using a modification of the technique we used to build Object 4101-Alephnull [an anti-material object] in the future...'" (p. 593))

The result, we are told, will be that the furniture will remain in the universe. But will it? If it is sent only a micro-second into the past, will it not then come forward again, co-existing with itself for that micro-second?

In fact, why are the Survivors each entering a space of their own? As I understand it, the entire Planet He entered the metagalactic center before the cosmic collision and therefore occupies the common neutral zone after the collision so why are the planet's spindizzies said to " '...have been annihilated...'"?

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