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Fiction, © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
I very humbly thank the Swedish Academy for this award. Although my invention of time travel must be regarded as one of the truly great achievements of all human history, I do not feel worthy of the honor. My discovery was actually nothing more than the combination of two happy accidents, my accidental discovery of the Time Field Equations, and my subsequent invention of the time machine.
Before I describe these happy accidents in more detail, let me digress by describing the truly meager work that had been done in time travel research before I began working on it. Time seemed rigid and unvarying until Einstein proposed his Special and General Theories of Relativity. Then it became clear that time could travel forward at various rates for different observers under certain circumstances, like extremely high speeds or in extremely strong gravitational fields. Then Quantum Mechanics showed that an antiparticle could be viewed as a particle travelling backward in time. A few scientists chose to believe that such particles actually were travelling backward in time. Most scientists were skeptical, to say the least.
None of this even approached a coherent theory of time travel. Then I came along, and virtually stumbled upon my Time Field Theory and my Time Field Equations, almost ten years ago today. Here is my original notebook, in which I first wrote down these equations. I'm not sure how they came into my mind. But I was sure that they were the answer to the puzzles and paradoxes that I had been studying for so many years. I am sure that you have all seen these equations. They even appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, next to a ridiculous picture of myself.
These Time Field Equations are a system of differential equations which are rather difficult to evaluate in detail, in most cases. Suffice it to say that solutions to the entire system of equations cannot normally be estimated using today's fastest computers in less than a thousand or so years. While the equations do not point to solutions at this time, they do point to possible tests which can be performed in the laboratory.
The fact that these equations must converge to a solution is obvious from the fact that we observe time to march at a constant rate, and by the predictability of Relativity.
Under truly bizarre circumstances, the equations "blow up." They predict that a time traveller, under these circumstances, would cease to exist in time. Although such an event sounds frightening, I do not actually know what it means. What happens when you do not exist in time? Do you merely cease to exist? I theorized that time travel, into the past or future, may happen somewhere between these two extremes, between constant time, and not existing.
I needed time travellers, in order to test this theory, and find experimental values in order to calibrate my equations. My first time travellers were very accurate clocks. Later, I used rats, and even later, monkeys. Eventually, I myself travelled in time, from the age of dinosaurs to the far distant future. And I was able to create a portable device which creates a fairly intense time field. This device became known as a "time machine." I hold such a device here. I will now activate it.
And Professor Hansen disappeared from the stage. The audience stood and applauded wildly. His acceptance speech was described upon more front pages of more newspapers than had his initial discovery. I am sitting here, in a public library, in the year 2782, reading those front pages. There are nearly one-hundred books here on the subject of time travel. They all praise Dr. Hansen, profusely, as do encyclopedias and history books. None of them tells the real story, the story that I am about to tell here.
I was a historian at a large university in the year 2905. That year, and my life in and around that year, seems so close to me here in 2782. But, of course, it is 123 years in the future. I was doing research, much as I am doing now, reading newspapers. And then, in an ancient issue of the New York Times, I spotted an interesting want ad:
Wanted: Time traveller to please give me a ride in a time machine. Please meet me at 342 E. Snow Way, New York, NY, at noon, July 1, 2000.
Intrigued, I dug out my time machine, and went to visit the man. It was Dr. Hansen. He was actually surprised that someone answered his ad. He had placed it with the newspaper just a few hours before. It had not yet appeared in print. He took some convincing that I was a real time traveller, and not some prankster from the newspaper. I showed him money from the future, and my ID cards from the future. He agreed that I could not have prepared these so soon after his phone call to the newspaper. Perhaps this was all genuine.
We then took a time journey, using my time machine, the same portable device that he later claimed to have invented. We went to the end of the Jurassic era, shortly before dinosaurs became extinct. It was wild and beautiful there. I had an uneasy feeling that we were being watched by something really huge. We saw no animals larger than a small house, however.
We took several time journeys, over the next few weeks. On one of these, I was shot. it was one of Napoleon's battles; I don't remember which one. And we were stranded in time, for a time. I had lost consciousness, and he did not know how to operate the time machine. He carried me to a farm house, where my wound was bandaged by the woman of the house. I eventually woke and took antibiotics which I had in my backpack. I was fed bread and a tasty soup with chunks of meat in it. In a few days, I was back on my feet. When I tentatively made my way down the stairs, I found Dr. Hansen, writing in his famous notebook. He had the time machine on the table, and he had pulled a tiny user's manual out of a door in its side. I had never known that a user's manual had even existed. He was copying "his" time field equations from the manual into his notebook. When he saw me, he guiltily put away his notebook. "Ah, you're alive again," he said, "I was just learning to operate your time machine." One does not need the time field equations in order to operate a time machine.
We had a few more time adventures together. And I began to consider him a good friend. Then he stole my time machine and left me stranded here in 2782. And he went back and won the Nobel Prize.
I'm not really stranded here. Time travel is common in 2782. And I have nearly saved enough money to buy another time machine.
Am I bent on revenge? No, not at all. Will I attempt to set the record straight? I doubt that that is even possible. Dr. Hansen is acclaimed as the inventor of time travel, not just in his own time, but perhaps in all subsequent times. I can only record my own story, as I am doing now.
But I do want to visit with Dr. Hansen. I want to know why he stole my time machine, when we could have gotten one of them for a dollar, in the 37th century, inside a box of breakfast cereal.
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