Technobabble: On Time Travel

In true Nerd style, I have elected to discuss that which is not currently possible and at the extreme edge of Science fiction to explore first among all the very many important issues raised.

I would like to begin by adding some perspective. Time Travel was imagined by James Cameron, who wrote the scripts, as a plot device. In situations such as these, the techonogy aspect of the story is Technobabble. There is no rhyme or reason to how it works, it just works by certain rules. In some cases, such as Star Trek, technobabble requires consistency.

Nonetheless, fans innately desire to have a believable universe filled with continuity.

I am guessing that James Cameron chose time travellers to enter the world naked as a symbol of rebirth. And also to keep future guns out of the past. I doubt it was an excuse for screen nudity, although that rule may have changed now that Lena Headey and Summer Glau are at the helm.

The cardinal rules of time travel in Terminator movies confuse me upon reflection. The basic premise of the technobabble explanation offered is that only living tissue can be transported.

Upon close examination, rules of Time Travel do not make a lot of sense even within the context of T1 and T2. The Terminator endoskeleton is not living, but presumably can be transported by virtue of being covered in flesh. Weapons, however, cannot be encased in flesh and transported. Things that were once living — cotton, leather, can’t go through. Furthermore, the T1000 was neither living tissue nor covered in living tissue and could still time travel.

Furthermore, if time travel is possible, why only send 1 person back in time? Presumably in the future there is infinite time to evaluate and send infinite corrections into the past in order to change it.

In conclusion, I want to say that the best explanation is that only intelligent beings (or simply Terminators and Humans if you like) and not objects are be able to time travel. This would permit the head of a Terminator to time travel.

Furthermore, this Time Travel mentioned is definitely Science Fantasy. In Science Fiction, there is a proposed scientific mechanism or principle in how the gadgets work. There is no credible reason for me to believe that living tissue time travels better or worse than non-tissue. I can’t even make one up in wildly theorizing.

The Verdict:

Terminator time travel is a plot device to set up unique story line and plot opportunities. It is a tool of the writers and therefore follows whatever rules they deem necessary. There is no well conceived scientifc theory behind this time travel upon which to scrutinize or form an objection.
Nerds, let’s let this one go. It will never make Sci-Fi sense, so let’s spend our efforts elsewhere. After all, a time machine in a bank vault is flippin awesome.

Here is a great article about Time Travel and Modern Physics take a look.


6 Responses to “Technobabble: On Time Travel”

  1. Good stuff nerd Chief!
    I think there is a lot here to digest.
    I added a link to Time Travel and Modern Physics which I thought was fun.
    I really am surprised that no one else has posted a response.


  2. Technobabble away. I suspect the idea is that humans developed time travel and created their time portal in such a way as to only allow humans to use it. Skynet, lacking the human intuitiveness to build its own time machine–time travel is illogical–decided to try and fool the human’s time machine into sending its cyborgs through. First with a flesh covering, and then with polymimetic alloy that would appear to a scanner as flesh.

    The explanation by the time travelers–that only organic material can be sent back–likely represents their limited technical understanding of the mechanism. They knew what they needed to know to get the mission done and not necessarily the exact science of time travel. They are soldiers after all.

    Given the complexity and enormous energy requirements for time travel, there probably is only one time machine or very few of them. There could also be a substantial charge time between jumps that is proportional to the amount of energy needed to send a given amount of mass. Skynet probably would have had to mount an assault on a human fortress to get its minions through and, given the constraint that the time machine would only send humans, may have had difficulty constructing a cyborg that would fit human-like parameters and still be an effective killing machine. For example, a concealed plasma rifle might have resulted in a 10-foot tall cyborg that would obviously not be human and perhaps would require more energy than what was available to successfully time travel.

    Nuclear powered energy weapons might also disrupt time travel due to high energy output. Additionally, if only one or a few individuals could be transported in a short period, giving them advanced weaponry would make them obvious in an earlier time period. Without any ability to recharge or repair their weapons, any advantage would quickly be lost. Not to mention that the local authorities, national guard, or army may be alerted to the perceived extreme threat, which would potentially compromise the mission.

    I suspect a present-day military battalion could, being properly prepared and with expected casualties, destroy a T-800, T-1000, or T-X. Kyle Reese would have had less of a chance confronting a SWAT team and would have ended up killing people he wanted to protect and likely detrimentally affecting the future he was supposed to save.


  4. Great posting, enjoyable to read. well done!

  5. realy good!!!!!!!

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