Unit of Time Travel

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Unit of Time Travel

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

Hello, forumeers!

I was wondering if there is an established unit for measuring time travel. Either one by an established author (e.g. Asimov, Heinlein) or one in actual scientific literature.

If not, I propose the metric unit "nix" to be derived as one second per second. For example, if my time machine can jump forward one year in what appears to me to take one second, it will travel at a rating of approximately 31.5 meganixes. And if my time machine is just an ordinary closet / car / phone booth, then it will travel at a rating of 1 nix (not counting the effects of relativity in the case of the car.) Makes sense, yes?

I chose the word "nix" because it is a German-esque word for nothing, as the units would normally cancel each other out, and because it is one of the more newly-discovered moons of Pluto (and "hydra" doesn't work as well as a unit IMHO.) Also, by a startling coincidence, it is my last name.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby ahammel » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:20 pm UTC

If it's seconds per second, then it's unitless, no?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:54 pm UTC

And radians are (unit length) per (unit length), but we still have a pretty useful name for them.

What makes them useful is that not all units of a particular dimension are created equal. When you're comparing traveler seconds per outsider seconds, or unit arc length per unit radial length, it make sense to have a new word to keep track of the distinction.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:36 pm UTC

Oh, one more thing - we probably need a term for "measurement of time traveled." Like how "watt" is the metric unit of power, or "helen" is the metric unit of beauty, "nix" can be the metric unit of... temporalization? chronometrics??
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:42 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:If it's seconds per second, then it's unitless, no?


No Well, think of the Hubble constant, which is measured in km/s/Mpc, which is actually just a unit of time, but actually conveys more information.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:17 pm UTC

Inverse time, actually, which is why it's sometimes listed in Hertz.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:01 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:What makes them useful is that not all units of a particular dimension are created equal. When you're comparing traveler seconds per outsider seconds, or unit arc length per unit radial length, it make sense to have a new word to keep track of the distinction.


It is true that dimensionful units of the same dimension are not created equal (in that the value of a given property will change if the units are changed to a different set with the same dimensions) but this is not true for dimensionless units. In fact, this is the whole reason dimensionless properties are useful, no matter what units you choose you get the same value (provided the units are consistent).

Now, you may point out radians vs degrees here however degrees only differ because the degree is defined using inconsistent units. Otherwise, l/r returns the angle in radians regardless of units.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:26 pm UTC

How many paradoxes are generated per trip? The Paradox/trip, or, the McFly?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:41 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:It is true that dimensionful units of the same dimension are not created equal (in that the value of a given property will change if the units are changed to a different set with the same dimensions) but this is not true for dimensionless units. In fact, this is the whole reason dimensionless properties are useful, no matter what units you choose you get the same value (provided the units are consistent).
I know. My point was that the dimensionful units of "traveler seconds" and "outsider seconds" are different, but consistent. Sure, there's no point in specifying that the unit of time travel is travelerseconds/outsiderseconds, because traveleryears/outsideryears gives the same number. But what I was arguing against was the claim that we need not name the "nix" at all since the dimensions of its component parts cancel out.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby WarDaft » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:14 am UTC

Are we talking about time dilation units, or time travel units? If we actually have time travel, can't we make the machinery do most of the work, nesting it as needed, and just pluck people from one point and drop them at another in as little of their subjective time experience as we want?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:16 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:It is true that dimensionful units of the same dimension are not created equal (in that the value of a given property will change if the units are changed to a different set with the same dimensions) but this is not true for dimensionless units. In fact, this is the whole reason dimensionless properties are useful, no matter what units you choose you get the same value (provided the units are consistent).
I know. My point was that the dimensionful units of "traveler seconds" and "outsider seconds" are different, but consistent. Sure, there's no point in specifying that the unit of time travel is travelerseconds/outsiderseconds, because traveleryears/outsideryears gives the same number. But what I was arguing against was the claim that we need not name the "nix" at all since the dimensions of its component parts cancel out.


We don't need nix though. We can simply define our relative-time-factor (or whatever we want to call it) as t'/t0 (or vice versa, take your pick) and then, no matter what units we *were* working in we will recover the same answer. In this case it is the definition of this value which encodes the information you want to "nix" to convey and so, we do not actually need a "unit".
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

How is that argument different from one you could use for radians?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:05 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Inverse time, actually, which is why it's sometimes listed in Hertz.


yep, my mistake, I just looked it up, the Hubble constant can be expressed as 2.3 x 10^-18 Hz but that doesn't convey the same information as 74.3 km/s/Mpc

To be honest, I find nothing wrong with the term "nix" whether it means seconds per second, or Mega-annum per Mega-annum, really it's just a factor of time travel, at present we are travelling through time at a factor of 1, and always will, what harm is it to, in a world where time travel is possible to use "we are travelling at 1/8/-1000 nix" as shorthand for "we are travelling through time at a factor of 1/8/-1000"?

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:49 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:To be honest, I find nothing wrong with the term "nix" whether it means seconds per second, or Mega-annum per Mega-annum, really it's just a factor of time travel, at present we are travelling through time at a factor of 1, and always will, what harm is it to, in a world where time travel is possible to use "we are travelling at 1/8/-1000 nix" as shorthand for "we are travelling through time at a factor of 1/8/-1000"?


I disagree. "We are travelling through time at a factor of X" is a cooler expression than "We are travelling at X nix" by at least one MegaFonzie.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby mathmannix » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

Klear wrote:I disagree. "We are travelling through time at a factor of X" is a cooler expression than "We are travelling at X nix" by at least one MegaFonzie.


You need at least one megafonzie to jump one megashark, right?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby AvatarIII » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:12 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:To be honest, I find nothing wrong with the term "nix" whether it means seconds per second, or Mega-annum per Mega-annum, really it's just a factor of time travel, at present we are travelling through time at a factor of 1, and always will, what harm is it to, in a world where time travel is possible to use "we are travelling at 1/8/-1000 nix" as shorthand for "we are travelling through time at a factor of 1/8/-1000"?


I disagree. "We are travelling through time at a factor of X" is a cooler expression than "We are travelling at X nix" by at least one MegaFonzie.


Cooler or not, it's 5 syllables longer, and people are lazy.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Malle » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:We don't need nix though. We can simply define our relative-time-factor (or whatever we want to call it) as t'/t0 (or vice versa, take your pick) and then, no matter what units we *were* working in we will recover the same answer.
Okay, I think I have a name. Let's see if substituting it into the sentence makes sense.
eSOANEM wrote:We don't need nix though. We can simply define our relative-time-factor (or whatever we want to call it) nix as t'/t0 (or vice versa, take your pick) and then, no matter what units we *were* working in we will recover the same answer.
Hmm, no, something is clearly wrong. Did I choose an inappropriate name or does the quoted argument make no sense?

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:31 pm UTC

The argument makes exactly as much sense as an argument that "radian" is a useless term.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:32 pm UTC

I would define it as abs(Δtoutside - Δttraveler ) / Δttraveler.
This has the benefit that a not-at-all-a-time machine has a speed of 0 nix.
This also translates to a speed of (1,inf) being needed to travel back in time.

I'd also recommend keeping it a scalar, as a vector would have to be four dimensional (the arrow of time can point anywhere with a time travel, relativity combination).

As for the distance traveled: standard time measurements are fine. An hour is the relative distance between two events, not an absolute point.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:34 am UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I would define it as abs(Δtoutside - Δttraveler ) / Δttraveler.


Wouldn't travelling instantly cause you to divide by zero? Edit: And a LOT of time machines in fiction travel instantly. You know... as opposed to those in reality.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:36 am UTC

Why is that a problem? That's the case when you measure speed and you try to travel "instantly".
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:38 am UTC

Oh yeah, right. Makes sense. I guess I'm too ingrained with the "Don't divide by zero! The universe will explode!" stuff.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby mathmannix » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:46 pm UTC

Okay, Back to the Future has instantaneous time travel, for example. But I always thought it made more sense "realistically" to have a time machine more like the one in, well, The Time Machine, which, although it moves discretely (which doesn't make sense to me), starts off slowly (i.e. only a little faster than the speed of the rest of the world) and then got up to speed wherein the machine was traversing many a year in the blink of an eye, so that the sun just became a wide band of its location during different seasons.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:18 pm UTC

How does it move discretely?
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:07 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Okay, Back to the Future has instantaneous time travel, for example.


Seems instantaneous != Actually instantaneous

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

Wouldn't any kind of non-instantaneous time travel require the time machine being present and visible to outside world, though?

I believe that's how it works in Primer, though I haven't seen the movie yet.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby mathmannix » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:54 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Wouldn't any kind of non-instantaneous time travel require the time machine being present and visible to outside world, though?

I believe that's how it works in Primer, though I haven't seen the movie yet.


I refer to H. G. Wells :

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'You mean to say that that machine has travelled into the future?' said Filby.

'Into the future or the past—I don't, for certain, know which.'

After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. 'It must have gone into the past if it has gone anywhere,' he said.

'Why?' said the Time Traveller.

'Because I presume that it has not moved in space, and if it travelled into the future it would still be here all this time, since it must have travelled through this time.'

'But,' I said, 'If it travelled into the past it would have been visible when we came first into this room; and last Thursday when we were here; and the Thursday before that; and so forth!'

'Serious objections,' remarked the Provincial Mayor, with an air of impartiality, turning towards the Time Traveller.

'Not a bit,' said the Time Traveller, and, to the Psychologist: 'You think. You can explain that. It's presentation below the threshold, you know, diluted presentation.'

'Of course,' said the Psychologist, and reassured us. 'That's a simple point of psychology. I should have thought of it. It's plain enough, and helps the paradox delightfully. We cannot see it, nor can we appreciate this machine, any more than we can the spoke of a wheel spinning, or a bullet flying through the air. If it is travelling through time fifty times or a hundred times faster than we are, if it gets through a minute while we get through a second, the impression it creates will of course be only one-fiftieth or one-hundredth of what it would make if it were not travelling in time. That's plain enough.' He passed his hand through the space in which the machine had been. 'You see?' he said, laughing.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:47 am UTC

Yeah, I'm quite aware that H. G. Wells thought of everything, but still... if you put something in the place where the time machine is (was, will be), it would crash into it sooner or later, and certainly before it has reached its destination.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:How is that argument different from one you could use for radians?


It's not. The equivalent argument for radians vs degrees is that only one is actually a measure of angle as defined in terms of arc. The other is a measure of some bizarre quantity which happens to be 180/pi * the angle.

In this system, it is not the units of the two quantities which differ (because both are dimensionless) but rather the variable.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:How is that argument different from one you could use for radians?
It's not. The equivalent argument for radians vs degrees.
What equivalent argument? We're not arguing here about nix vs. something else, we're arguing that "nix" itself is a useful word for talking about time travel rates, just like "radian" is itself a useful word for talking about angles.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:35 pm UTC

Sort-of equivalent to this:

eSOANEM wrote:We don't need nix though. We can simply define our relative-time-factor (or whatever we want to call it) as t'/t0 (or vice versa, take your pick) and then, no matter what units we *were* working in we will recover the same answer. In this case it is the definition of this value which encodes the information you want to "nix" to convey and so, we do not actually need a "unit".


It's not as equivalent as I'd thought at the time I posted that, it had been a while since I read my posts and I've had a lot of work for uni so my exact posts slipped my mind. I meant something more like a specific case of the general argument in my first post for radians vs degrees.

Anyway, the only reason we need to define whether an angle is in radians or degrees is because degrees are still taught at an early age and angle is defined in most people's heads in terms of them. This is not what angle is though. Angle is the ratio of arc length to radius. If this was the definition in more people's heads (rather than a fraction of a whole loop), angle would always be in radians implicitly and degrees would not make sense as a unit of angle.

Likewise, seeing as we do not have any preconceived notions of what our time-travel-parameter means, we do not need to specify which definition we mean, we can simply define it as t'/t0 (which I'd probably call the time dilation factor) in which case there is absolutely no need for a unit as there is no alternative definition differing only by a factor to distinguish it from.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:02 pm UTC

Is it the time dilation factor due to velocity? Is it the time dilation factor due to gravitation? Is it the time dilation factor due to being in a stasis field? Is it the time dilation factor for going backward in time?

All of these questions and more can be answered by calling the one for time travel "nix". Plus the whole being five fewer syllables thing.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:32 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Is it the time dilation factor due to velocity? Is it the time dilation factor due to gravitation? Is it the time dilation factor due to being in a stasis field? Is it the time dilation factor for going backward in time?

All of these questions and more can be answered by calling the one for time travel "nix". Plus the whole being five fewer syllables thing.


1. I think you may not have understood my definition. To clarify, it would be all of the above. As I defined it, it would simply be the ratio of co-ordinate time to proper time (strictly speaking the deltas of each) and so cover all phenomena which changed the rate at which clocks are observed to tick.

2. Likewise for following the definition I gave. Admittedly "time-dilation-factor" is an unwieldy term, but once we give it a symbol (I used f earlier (although f isn't actually a great choice of symbol seeing as it's used for a lot of things already)) instead we can refer to it by that instead e.g. f=0.5 vs 0.5nix. Furthermore, in an actual sentence you'll need some extra words beyond "0.5nix" to maintain grammar whereas this is not needed for f=0.5 meaning that they're actually pretty similar when it comes to syllables.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Carlington » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:14 am UTC

I think we should turn it around, and make it Nix 1. This makes it analogous to Mach 1 for the speed of sound in atmosphere. Nix 1 can be defined as the speed of time (ewwww) in a rest frame. Hence, Nix 2 is travelling two seconds for every second of proper time, and Nix 0.5 is travelling one second for every two seconds of proper time, and so on. This relies on only travelling into the future to be possible. Travelling into the past is also neatly covered by fractional Nix. Nix 0.5 is analogous to the rest of the visible universe moving at Nix 2 relative to your reference frame, Nix 0.1 is analogous to the same situation with Nix 10, and so on.
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Klear » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:29 am UTC

Carlington wrote:I think we should turn it around, and make it Nix 1. This makes it analogous to Mach 1 for the speed of sound in atmosphere. Nix 1 can be defined as the speed of time (ewwww) in a rest frame. Hence, Nix 2 is travelling two seconds for every second of proper time, and Nix 0.5 is travelling one second for every two seconds of proper time, and so on. This relies on only travelling into the future to be possible. Travelling into the past is also neatly covered by fractional Nix. Nix 0.5 is analogous to the rest of the visible universe moving at Nix 2 relative to your reference frame, Nix 0.1 is analogous to the same situation with Nix 10, and so on.


This... sounds a bit confusing. I understand the proposed Nix as outside time/subjective time. Fractions mean that while you were in the time machine, the outside time was going slower (Narnia Time, check TVTropes on oyur own peril). Going to the past would be negavite Nix. At the speed -1 Nix, you are simply going backwards, something like -100000000 Nix would be the time travel we usually see.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:34 am UTC

Units of time travel is good and all, but we should really focus on figuring out time grammar.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe wrote: One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can't cope with. There is no problem with changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

The major problem is simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you, for instance, how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be descibed differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is futher complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations while you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later aditions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term "Future Perfect" has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.

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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Carlington » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:43 am UTC

Time-travel grammar is easy. Make liberal use of the phrases "by this time" and "at this point".
For example, "I travelled to the year 2043. I learnt that, by this time, humanity will have sorted their shit, with regards to time travel grammar."
Another example, "I travelled back in time, to the year 1863. At this point in time, there were no suitable sockets for me to charge my time machine's flux capacitor, so I got stuck for a little while."

Klear wrote:
Carlington wrote:I think we should turn it around, and make it Nix 1. This makes it analogous to Mach 1 for the speed of sound in atmosphere. Nix 1 can be defined as the speed of time (ewwww) in a rest frame. Hence, Nix 2 is travelling two seconds for every second of proper time, and Nix 0.5 is travelling one second for every two seconds of proper time, and so on. This relies on only travelling into the future to be possible. Travelling into the past is also neatly covered by fractional Nix. (No it isn't, I'm a buttbrain). Nix 0.5 is analogous to the rest of the visible universe moving at Nix 2 relative to your reference frame, Nix 0.1 is analogous to the same situation with Nix 10, and so on.


This... sounds a bit confusing. I understand the proposed Nix as outside time/subjective time. Fractions mean that while you were in the time machine, the outside time was going slower (Narnia Time, check TVTropes on oyur own peril). Going to the past would be negavite Nix. At the speed -1 Nix, you are simply going backwards, something like -100000000 Nix would be the time travel we usually see.

No, no, I'm proposing we appropriate the use of Nix for describing the ratio of time inside the time machine to time outside the time machine. If our time machine is set to Nix 1, the ratio inside:outside is 1:1, meaning that no (relative) time travel is occurring. If we're set to Nix 2, then the ratio is 2:1, meaning 2 seconds pass inside the influence of the time machine for every one second passing outside. This means we're travelling into the future.
Nix 0.5 means a ratio of 0.5:1, which simplifies to a ratio of 1:2. This means that for every 1 second that passes inside the time machine, two seconds pass outside, meaning time would slow down. Traveling at Nix 0 means no time is passing in either direction. When you shut off the time travel field, time has moved on in the world outside.
Negative Nix takes you into the past, contrary to what I said before. I didn't think it through properly.
Last edited by Carlington on Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:06 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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AvatarIII
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:45 am UTC

Klear wrote:Wouldn't any kind of non-instantaneous time travel require the time machine being present and visible to outside world, though?

I believe that's how it works in Primer, though I haven't seen the movie yet.


Things can be non-instantaneous, but still faster than the eye can see.

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Quizatzhaderac
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:00 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Okay, Back to the Future has instantaneous time travel, for example.


Seems instantaneous != Actually instantaneous

If we assume the Delorean works like a Tachyonic antitelephone, knowing that it requires a spatial speed of 80 mph to travel back in time, we can work out it's maximum TTS (time travel speed). The trivial travel time experienced by the passengers can be explained by having a time dilator within the greater time machine to protect the passengers and degradable automobile parts.

Klear wrote:Oh yeah, right. Makes sense. I guess I'm too ingrained with the "Don't divide by zero! The universe will explode!" stuff.

In those situations (and Xeno's paradox) it can help to imagine time a space in discreet terms. If something is here one moment and there the next, that's still a Δt of one plank time.

Magnanimous wrote:Units of time travel is good and all, but we should really focus on figuring out time grammar.
Learn to make full use of the tenses we already have. English, formally, has 12 chronologically significant tenses. You increase that by counting "going to <verb>"/"planning on <verb>" constructs as altering tense ( I was going to eat that). Further more, the constructs/tenses can be compounded as far as someone can keep track of them.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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Sizik
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Re: Unit of Time Travel

Postby Sizik » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:03 pm UTC

Carlington wrote:No, no, I'm proposing we appropriate the use of Nix for describing the ratio of time inside the time machine to time outside the time machine. If our time machine is set to Nix 1, the ratio inside:outside is 1:1, meaning that no (relative) time travel is occurring. If we're set to Nix 2, then the ratio is 2:1, meaning 2 seconds pass inside the influence of the time machine for every one second passing outside. This means we're travelling into the future.
Nix 0.5 means a ratio of 0.5:1, which simplifies to a ratio of 1:2. This means that for every 1 second that passes inside the time machine, two seconds pass outside, meaning time would slow down. Traveling at Nix 0 means no time is passing in either direction. When you shut off the time travel field, time has moved on in the world outside.
Negative Nix takes you into the past, contrary to what I said before. I didn't think it through properly.


You're getting the ratios backwards. Nix is outside:inside, not inside:outside (your descriptions of the effects are correct, though).
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King Author wrote:If space (rather, distance) is an illusion, it'd be possible for one meta-me to experience both body's sensory inputs.
Yes. And if wishes were horses, wishing wells would fill up very quickly with drowned horses.


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